Monday, September 26, 2011

Interview with Vicki Fourie

Vicki came to me one day, via email, and asked if we wanted to interview her on LAT! After reading her blog and speaking with her, I could not say no! Vicki has an amazing story to share with you and I hope you get as much out of it as I did!

Much Love,

Haylie Gregory, Editor

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a true South African gal who lives in Bloemfontein (it’s in the middle of South Africa), and I turned 22 earlier this year.

We don’t know exactly what caused my hearing damage... When I was a baby, I had a high fever (just like Helen Keller & Marlee Matlin) and we think that’s what caused my hearing loss. I personally don’t believe that I was born deaf.

When I was 2 years old, I didn’t respond when my family called my name, and after extensive tests at the hospital, it was confirmed that I have 97% hearing loss. This came as a big shock for the family, especially my parents.

However, my parents didn’t give up on me after receiving the news. I’m grateful that they reacted this way, for it enabled me to learn how to speak like a hearing person and read lips. I even went to a hearing English school, despite Afrikaans being my home language.

There was many obstacles along the way, but I overcame them by believing that ‘Courage isn’t a gift, it’s a decision.’

In high school, my biggest challenge was large groups. Everyone would  speak all at once, and when you have a profound hearing loss, you can’t really follow what’s going on. And when someone makes a joke and everyone laughs but you didn’t get the joke… that’s when it hurts the most. You feel like an outcast.

I try to avoid these kind of situations, but there are times when you simply cannot, and you have to make the best of it. Don’t be shy to ask questions – he who asks is a fool for a moment – but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.

Today, I still have my moments when I feel left out…  for instance, I can’t speak on the phone, listen to the radio or go to the movies. But I have adapted to my situation. Instead of speaking on the phone, I sms or send emails. Instead of going out to the movies, I rent a DVD and watch it with subtitles. Instead of listening to the radio, I buy the newspaper.

All of us are strong survivers with even stronger survival instincts. We learn how to make the best of our situations.

2) Tell us about your public speaking life? What do you talk about?
With the primary schools, I share on how I struggled sometimes as a deaf girl in a hearing school – the topic is ‘I Know I Can’. With the high school kids, I tell them that ‘Courage isn’t a gift, it’s a decision.’ So many kids today are struggling with drug abuse, self-harming, cursing, etc.

I also share the following story with the high school children:

When I was 14 years old, I was accidentally shot with a gun – the bullet entered me at the back of my shoulder and exited in the front. This accident changed my whole life – in a good way. Before this happened, I always thought that my life was about ME, about what I wanted, what I needed. I also struggled with depression.

After the accident, my attitude towards life changed. I decided not to be selfish anymore and not to feel sorry for myself. Life owes you nothing – it’s your responsibility to make something out of it.

The more I shared my story with others, the more I received healing. When something traumatic happens to you, you tend to keep it inside. It’s not the right thing to do – if you don’t talk about it, you will die within yourself.

3) How is life as a beauty pageant girl?
The beauty pageant world came onto me unexpectedly. When I was in matric, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. There was 3 or 4 people who said that I was going to be like Esther of the Bible – I was going to use my beauty to save a nation. At first, I didn’t quite understand (I thought I needed to marry a prince, and South Africa does not have royalty!).

Soon opportunities started popping up in newspapers, magazines, advertisements, etsc. I heard about the Miss Deaf South Africa, and realized that Esther also partook in a pageant: the Miss Persia pageant. I took this as a sure sign that I must enter.

In 2008 I participated for the first time. I didn’t win, but was crowned 1st Princess & Miss Personality.

In 2009 I participated again, and I was crowned Miss Deaf SA 2009/2010 and Miss Deaf HESC (the official sponsor of the pageant).

In July 2010, I participated in the Miss Deaf International in Las Vegas, and I was crowned 2nd Princess.

In 2011, I competed in the Miss Deaf World, which took place in Prague from the 1st till 11th of July 2011.

For some reason, althroughout

God was preparing me all along – during that week I kept asking Him what I should do for the rest of this year. He was silent until that Friday night – until that women came to me. Everything just fell into place. It all made sense.

4. What is the message you try to bring to people?
 I do not consider myself as a deaf woman... Your circumstances does not need to define you. I consider myself as Vicki – my name means ‘Victorious’. I refuse to be a ‘Victim’ to my circumstances and surroundings.

I believe South Africa has many opportunities. Life is full of choices, and having a positive attitude doesn’t just fall on one’s lap – you need to make a choice to practice this attitude in life. It’s like a muscle: at first it’s not that easy, but with the seasons it becomes easier and then one wonders, ‘Why did I ever doubt myself?’  

There are some people who wallow in self-pity and bitterness, and that doesn’t bring you very far in life... Stop complaining – you are alive, and your disability and/or circumstances is nothing compared to what you have – the gift of life. The world doesn’t owe you a thing – it’s your responsibility to make something out of your life.

Be bold – do not be shy. Always ask questions. Be curious about everything and everything – the more you learn, the more you realize you still have a lot to learn. The world owes you nothing – it’s your responsibility to make something of it. It doesn’t help feeling angry towards God or people about your disability. Believe me, it’s a waste of time. Find out what are your talents and gifts, and focus on them. Embrace who you are. You’re disability does not need to define you…Be courageous!

5) Tell us about the Miss Deaf World 2011 that took place in Prague earlier in July 2011.
Over 38 girls from all over the world competed in this prestigious event that lasted for about 6 days. My mother was my chaperon & we arrived in Prague the 2nd of July after 2 days’ flying. The 8th of July (Friday evening) the pageant’s crowning took place at the Top Hotel Praha.

This year’s Miss Deaf World was the 11th year it took place.

We were treated like royalty. All the girls PLUS their chaperones’ tickets were paid in full by the Miss Deaf World organizers. Our accommodation was free & we had platters of food 4 times a day.

The contestants received so many freebies every day that by the time I had to fly back to SA, I had to leave behind 4 pairs of shoes, amongst other random things. My suitcase was too heavy – that’s how much they blessed us during our stay there!

I didn’t win a place at the Miss Deaf World pageant... BUT about an hour after the crowning someone came up to me, asking whether I’d be interested in playing opposite an Oscar-winner in a new movie. It’s a small role I’m getting, but it’s a start!! I’m not really allowed to reveal more details yet – the contract has to be finalized & everything. But I’m majorly excited!!!

Also, a psychologist from Germany has invited me to be a guest speaker in her country. Will get more details on that later.
So, I didn’t win the Miss Deaf World title, but I came back a winner in other areas of my career. I’m going forward!!

6) How do you spend your quiet time with God?
First thing in the mornings, I spend time with the Lord. I take out my Bible the night before and leave it on the ground so that I won’t forget when the morning come. It takes plenty of wisdom & insight to do what I do (writing, motivational speakings, etc.) and that’s why it’s such a priority for me to draw from the Living Well. Otherwise I’ll run dry. I don’t want that to happen.
I have a favourite spot where I always spend time with the Lord – my room. The winter sun always comes through my window and it’s lovely & warm. I don’t check my cellphone first thing in the morning, and I don’t even put on my hearing aids. That way, I am much more focused in the morning when it comes to spending some time with Jesus. Away from all the noise & madness of this world.

7) What is one of your favorite things about God?
That I can speak to Him whenever & wherever I want to. My job gets real lonely sometimes – the friends I have can’t really relate to what I do because it’s such a unique job that I have. It’s really nice to know that while I’m travelling so much, I can pray in tongues or just bask in my aloneness with the Lord. I can be at the airport, a photoshoot, or just be alone at night and know that He sees me – He knows exactly what I’m going through.

8) What is your favorite passage of scripture and why?
I love the Old Testament. I think it’s because it’s full of powerful stories of battle & courage. We tend to put God in a box and say, ‘He’s a softy. He’s not very strong.’ But when I read the Old Testament I am blown away by the way He just stood up and raised men in battle. Life is a battlefield for all of us. I like to think of God as the Gladiator who’s fiery & undefeatable when it comes to the temptations of this world...

9) What do you like to do during your free time?
I have a beautiful cat named Ally who as the most adorable character. I also love horse riding and jogging to clear my mind.

10) Who do you look up to in life and why?
When I was 14 years old, I was accidentally shot with a gun – the bullet entered me at the back of my shoulder and exited in the front. This accident changed my whole life – in a good way. Before this happened, I always thought that my life was about ME, about what I wanted, what I needed. I also struggled with depression.

After the accident, my attitude towards life changed. I decided not to be selfish anymore and not to feel sorry for myself. Life owes you nothing – it’s your responsibility to make something out of it. They say that a hero is someone who saves your life – the Lord saved my life after that horrible accident. I look up to Him. He is my Saviour.

Readers are welcome to contact Vicki a guest appearance or speaking opportunity:

Follow her on Twitter: @vickifourie


  1. Great interview! What an encouraging story!

  2. So amazing, when the interview ended I was like "NO i WANT MORE" hahah Vicki sounds amazing

  3. a must read and learn from this.