By Thomas | 19 June 2016 | Solomon Islands | Deaf Community | Inspiration

Solomon Islanders Deaf Community are humble, respectful, understanding and curious. Not only about us and the British Deaf Community but also about the other Deaf Communities that we had met on our travels.
Despite the fact that Telma and I were both new in town, from a different background and ethnic group, there was a sense of connection and an understanding between myself and them, of what it means to be Deaf. That feeling was shared immediately upon meeting, regardless our differences.
While travelling around New Zealand on our road trip, we met Brent MacPherson, the owner of Stretch Productions and the Director of “The Forgotten People”. The documentary is based on the Deaf Community in the Solomon Islands. His enthusiasm about the Deaf Community made us consider such destination, even though we had never heard of it. So we thought that flying to Honiara and staying there for a week would be perfect.

Prior to our arrival, little did we know that we would fall in love with the people; find a new family; have friends for live and would find it so difficult to leave.

solomon-islands-deaf-community

Meeting Solomon Islanders Deaf Community

During our stay in Honiara, Claire’s family received us in her home. We cannot thank them enough for their warm welcome. For teaching us their culture and their ways, for spending unlimited time with us and for making us feel part of the family. We spent our days with Ali, Claire, Lilly and Jean Claude. We visited two Deaf Schools, Red Cross Special Development Centre for Children and San Isidro Care Centre, met several Deaf children and teachers of the Deaf and enjoyed the relaxed pace of life in Honiara.

solomon-islands-family

I connected with them from day one. We might have had a different upbringing, different culture, food and homes but we are all connected by our Deafness and willingness to thrive in life. After spending three and a half months travelling in the South Pacific, witnessing people’s struggles and some harsh reality, Telma and I were very sad to leave.

deaf-friend-in-honiara

On our last day after saying goodbye to our new friends from the Solomon Islands, we both sobbed like babies. From the window plane, we had the last glimpse; there they were, waiting in the burning sun, for our plane to take off.
As we sat down inside the plane, Telma wrote this on her note book:

To our friends in Honiara

We can’t believe that our time in the South Pacific has come to an end. We spent 3.5 months travelling Fiji, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands and despite the struggles, the brutal reality about how other people live and sometimes the countdown to leave, on our last day after saying goodbye to our new friends from the Solomon Islands, Thomas and I sobbed like babies, broken hearted to be leaving.
Saying goodbye has been part of my life for years, since I left Portugal to live in England, but the goodbyes from travelling and meeting people on the road are harder, tougher and unfair.
When are we going to see them again?
Will we ever see them again?
And that is why it makes it so hard.
On the plane, we both sat in silence until the take-off, cursing ourselves on why we didn’t stay longer. As if staying for another month, would ease the pain of saying goodbye.
While tears filled my eyes when writing this note, Thomas was really touched by the generosity of the Solomon Islanders.
The truth is, the less you have, the happier you are. The Islanders may be poor in money, but so rich from the inside, in many other non-materialistic ways. They have the biggest hearts.
Travelling doesn’t only change you as a person, but also gives you the opportunity to meet wonderful people. The unknown of “the next time” is what it makes it so unfair.
The truth is, these people have touched our hearts.
My dear friends, it’s not a goodbye, it’s “see you soon”.

Honiara, 19th June 2016

friendly deaf community

Special Thanks:

We would like to thank Brent MacPherson for his willingness to help us meeting the Deaf Community, we couldn’t have made this unforgettable trip without Brent’s support. William and Jennie for their hospitality and kindness. And finally to our beloved friends, Ally, Claude, Claire and Lily for their unconditional love.  

Who has inspired you or enriched your travels?

Watch our video

Solomon Islander Sign Language’s description of the Months is based in events or special occasions throughout the year. Whereas British Sign Language rely mostly on fingerspelling, using the first 2-3 letters of the word.

January – New Year
February – Rain (Monsoon season or rainy season)
March – Marching
April – Easter
May – Mother’s Day
June – Holidays
July – Remembrance Day
August – Miss Solomon Islands
September – Harvest Time
October – School Exams
November – Graduation Day
December – Father Christmas

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We are Thomas and Telma – the writers, photographers, videographers and founders of Blank Canvas Voyage.

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