Inspiration to deaf children
BEING born deaf has never stood in the way of Ipswich woman Ceilidh O'Sullivan's ambition.
The Peak Crossing 22-year-old, who completely lost her hearing as a teenager - was a successful BMX rider before she embarked on a mission to help deaf kids in Africa.
After receiving a life changing cochlea implant and learning to listen and speak again, Ms O'Sullivan joined the Boanerges Deaf Initiative and has since taken a key role in establishing schools specifically for deaf kids in the central African country of Uganda.
She has become the Australian representative of the not-for-profit organisation, which looks after the needs of 35 hearing impaired children in the capital, Kampala, plus another 90 children in the north of the country, and about 40 in the east.
"Deaf children are seen as a curse in Uganda - being deaf is viewed as a disease," Ms O'Sullivan said.
"I felt I had to go there to teach them that deafness is OK and it is not a sickness."
Ms O'Sullivan first went to Uganda in 2010, meeting the director of BDI and working for two months to set up a school in Kampala.
"I worked with only 12 to 15 children," she said.
"Being in Uganda changed my life. I learnt about how the children lived and how they were treated. It opened my eyes to see the needs of others."
She returned to the country at the end of last year to purchase a piece of land for a new school, which she hopes will be complete in a matter of weeks.
Ms O'Sullivan will marry her fiancé Joel - the director of Boanerges Deaf Initiative - in Rosewood in August and the pair will head off to Africa together in October.
Once there, she will continue her volunteer work as a teacher at the various deaf schools.
"That's where I am meant to be and that's where I am needed," she said.
"I am looking forward to the smiles on the kids' faces."