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Location: Chicagoland, United States

I'm a deaf mom to three deaf and hard of hearing kids. The hubby is deaf too. Kaycie, our Westie, can hear a rabbit breathing a half mile away. I grew up hard of hearing and became deaf at the age of 19.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. Mohandas Gandhi

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Friday, February 1, 2008
Josh Swiller Pens "The Unheard"

Josh Swiller has held many jobs. He's been a forest ranger, a raw food chef, teacher, a Zen monk, and he once crafted sheepskin slippers. He spent two years in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer.

After being fired from a law firm, Josh settled into a friend's barn and wrote The Unheard, a memoir of his two years in Kenya, Africa.

You can read more about Josh in an article that I wrote for Disaboom:

Peace Corps Years Inspire The Unheard

Josh blogs at Cochbla. For the time being, he's decided that being an author is a noble profession and he's hammering away at his next book.

I appreciate your good work.

February 1, 2008 at 5:38 PM  

Josh’s experience was sadly typical in many respects. He was puzzlement to the community. Why was he there? Why was he impotent to wave a magic wand and heal the diseased and dying or provide wells, jobs or education? Ultimately since he could not work wonders, what was amiss? On Josh’s side, he too wondered why he was there. What was he to do to promote development? And how to do it? Especially since the community’s response was nearly zero. Finally, what did he accomplish?

Josh carried an additional burden as a deaf man. He could partially understand one-on-one when his hearing aids were working, but in crowds or with background noise intelligible sounds ceased. Josh wrote frankly about his deafness and the issues that he had to deal with - exclusion from group conversations for example. But part of his motivation to join the Peace Corps was to find himself and to find a place where deafness mattered less. He said he found that in Zambia. Being white and American was odd enough; no one seemed concerned with his deafness.

Josh forged a solid friendship with Augustine Jere who served as his guide to Zambian culture and the strange town they lived in. Ultimately, this friendship was tested by culture and corrupt, even evil, circumstances. Without divulging the story, let me say that it tracks. Zambians, their town, expectations and frailties come alive. The author writes compellingly. Former PCVs will recognize the reality of the world Swiller so ably describes and will admire his tenacity even while deploring his (self admitted) foolishness in attempting to deal with it.

August 10, 2008 at 12:17 AM  

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