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The ability to communicate in sign language has drawn the deaf naturally to me and made me share their world – Ayodele Eizabeth

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Ayodele Funmilayo Elizabeth is a Nigerian born and a Lagos based practicing entrepreneur. She attended Yaba college of Technology where she obtained O. N. D in Science Laboratory Technology and H.N.D. in Chemistry, which gave her a share in the manufacturing industry of which she runs a venture that manufactures industrial and domestic products. She also possesses a diploma certificate in Desktop publishing among other skills.

Elizabeth is a problem-solving, highly intellectual and innovative individual motivated by compassion and love. Elizabeth’s entrepreneurial strength has been a source of inspiration to many.

Having gone through various vocational and leadership trainings of which she became an alumni member of the Advanced Daystar Leadership Academy. She started occupying the leadership role at the age of 17 when she became the managing director of an I.T/ computer institution. She had since then been engaging in the business world. Her desire for knowledge and her versatility nature led her into learning sign language which she has since been utilizing to lessen the isolation of the deaf.

Elizabeth love for humanity and equality led her into advocating for inclusion of deaf persons and encouraging people to embrace the use of sign language.

Elizabeth love for humanity and equality brought her to advocating/­proposing for the inclusion of deaf persons into every sector including programs/conference which was honored and led to having deaf people in attendance at mega and prestigious conference like ‘Live Your Dream Africa’ and ‘Dynamic Youth Assembly’ . She and her team also organize monthly program to empower the deaf intellectually and socially. She was recently interviewed at the Ambassador Radio show ,Unilag F.M
She is the founder of Beyond Limitation Initiative, an initiative that is passionate about bridging the gap between the deaf and the hearing. She shares her story in this interview.

Childhood Influence
Yes, I remember during my childhood how my mother and everyone around will repeatedly say the wisdom and creative qualities I demonstrated were uncommon for children my age. I grew up seeing my mother defending the cause of others and her stand against any form of injustice and oppression despite her widowhood.

Meet Ayodele
Ayodele Funmilayo Elizabeth is a transformation catalyst, passionate about humanity (especially equality and justice), entrepreneurship and innovation. She has featured on various media platforms too

Inspiration behind Beyond Limitation Initiative
Beyond Limitation Initiative is passionate and burdened with bridging the gap between the deaf and the hearing, kicking against the deprivation of the rights of the deaf (in rents, entrepreneurship, services, education, health, social life etc).

One experience stands out. After I had developed my ability to relate and connect with the deaf, at one time I saw three deaf persons communicating with one another in front of my office. I got excited and approached them. We became good friends till date. However one of them named Tunji ( not a real name) became so close to me that he will visit my residence almost everyday.

Unknown to me, Tunji (not real name) needed a friend that hears his heart. He needed someone who could understand the language of his heart (sign language), he was apparently tired of shrinking his thoughts on paper.

The saddest part of his story was how he became deaf and the discrimination he suffered from there on. I asked myself “what if it happens to me, will I suffer same?” What would become of the deaf in the next generation? Is life becoming better for them?

Advocacy for people living with hearing disabilites
Although I didn’t have any relatives associated with hearing disabilities neither am I one, but the ability to communicate in sign language has drawn the deaf naturally to me and made me share their world.

However, other disabilities are apparent and easily assisted than the deaf while the deaf can do anything except hear, they can also be more independent than other disabilities but ironically they suffer the high side of discrimination. Also, communication plays a vital role in our daily life but a fraction of our citizens have been disconnected from their world due to communication barrier which can be minimized if the hearing could embrace sign language.

Who and What Inspire me?
My greatest inspiration comes from God in whom I draw strength. My mother and the deaf world are also sources of inspiration to me. Lately, Mrs Oginni Folusho has been inspiring me through her love for humanity and her compassionate heart.

Greatest Reward
The Joy derived from serving humanity especially when I see the desired change been effected. The smiles on the faces of the deaf and the stories of liberation of some of them are my rewards too. I believe that everyone has his/her quota to contribute in making the world a better place. Therefore, I would say my greatest reward comes from doing so.

Challenges of Running my Organisation
The present challenge is the low awareness of the plights of the deaf by the hearing communities and inadequate funding. Although an average Nigerian is emotional towards people with disabilities but there is need to do more than playing emotion. We have to take deliberate actions towards making life better for them rather than leaving them to the mercy of the government and NGOs alone.

Giving up is not an option
No, I believe that your strong WHY will determine how far you go in the pursuit of your dream. While we don’t choose dreams but dreams choose us, it is our responsibilities to live up to the size of the dreams instead of giving up. Every challenge I have encountered has given me another opportunity to learn and grow.

I am a Woman of Rubies
The God-factor, optimism, problem-solving and being purposeful makes me a Woman of Rubies

Advice to Women
There is a seed of greatness in everyone, no matter who you are, there is something in you that the world needs, so see the abilities in you rather than the disability. The only limitation you have is the one you place on yourself. Tap into the great endowments you possess and make your world proud. It is not going to be easy but with God, you will triumph. The greatest tragedy is not the inability to hear but the inability to heed. Your humanity status counts more than your hearing status.



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