Event Types

Vanessa is a 19 year old woman who is both deaf and blind.  While Ms Vlajkovic was born blind, her hearing did not begin to deteriorate until she was seven.  She learnt braille at 4 and twelve months ago switched off from the hearing world.  Due to her limited vision, the Auslan is ‘tactile’ meaning the signs are formed on Vanessa’s hands. 

Vanessa has never let her sensory loss prevent her from being involved at school and in the community – competing in gymnastics and cheer-leading, several awards, and being named WA Young Person of the Year in 2016. She has become a significant advocate within the Deafblind Community, and helped establish Deafblind West Australians, an entity providing support, social interaction and advocacy for deafblind individuals.   

The Rotary Club of Osborne Park sponsored her to attend the 9th European Deafblind International Conference, held in Aalborg, Denmark in September 2017 where she presented a paper on  “The important role that touch has played in my life”.  

Vanessa Vlajkovic
Feb 06, 2018

Michele Alexander knows what it’s like to go through a good dose of hell. She woke up one day and her hearing started failing. Then. It was gone. How would you feel if that happened to you?

The only option was a cochlea implant. If I woke up and found myself without hearing, I could probably kiss DJing and Beatboxing goodbye. But then again, people like Michele are proof that you can do more than manage a new way of life, you can excel. Michele overcame that most dreadful of challenges to which we are all susceptible. I’m not talking about losing your hearing, but something harder to come to grips with. The accepting of yourself the way you are.

Michele tells a story of being ashamed of her cochlea implant. She didn’t want anyone to know. On top of that, she got her fair share of cancer, had chemo and lost her hair. This resulted in having to wear a wig because she was still so afraid of people seeing the cochlea implant.

Things changed in a single moment when she met Nick Vujicic. A super human without arms and legs. Michele went to give Nick a hug at one of his gigs and this is where she had a healing transformation. She told Nick, “before I give you a hug, I have to do something.” She removed her wig in front of all those people. Exposing her cochlea implant of course, but more importantly, accepting who she really was.

Many of us go through life hiding something from others, when really it’s not the worst thing when they find out. In fact, most people do not react the way we think they would have. It’s our own acceptance of who we are. Yet, I believe there is something even greater at play here. A further fear and Ordeal to pass through. It is quite simply, facing our light, seeing that we are capable of amazing things even in the face of weakness.

Michele is a business coach and the past-President of Belmont Rotary Club.

Michelle Alexander
Feb 20, 2018

Past District Governor Ron Geary is a Endowment and Major Gifts Adviser for Zone 8 and a Director of the Rotary Foundation Australian Ltd.   He will be talking to us about the ring pull program and other Rotary projects that he is familiar with.

Ron Geary
Feb 27, 2018