My name is Tobias Shozi, and this is my story…
My name is Tobias Shozi and I will be 30 years old in November. I live near Klaarwater in KZN and I am the firstborn in my family. I am the only person in my family to be born Deaf. My dad left when I was a baby and although I have asked many times, nobody tells me anything about him. I don’t know who he is or whether he is even alive. I just don’t know.
When I was 16, my mother passed away. My sister moved in with my aunty and I was raised by my gogo, whom I love very much.
I attended Fulton School for the Deaf in KZN. However, when I left school, I realised there were very few opportunities available for a Deaf person. I looked for work but was never successful and had to live off my grant money, staying at home for 8 years. I was so bored!
To pass the time I played soccer with a group of Deaf friends and one of them told me about eDeaf. I was so excited that there was a company that could help me study and find a job. The very next week I went to enrol at eDeaf. I was worried because I hadn’t worked before, but they accepted me on the Shoprite Checkers learnership programme and I was so happy for the first time in ages.
It was great because all the training was done in SASL. I could understand my facilitator because she is deaf, and she had also worked at Shoprite Checkers before. I really enjoyed Deli training with one of the Managers, Mark. He is a hearing person and we had interpreters to work with us. Mark was very kind and passionate about food. He taught me a lot, including many things I didn’t learn in school. My mind was suddenly open to new ideas. We worked in a simulated kitchen environment and we made a few recipes during our training.
After one year, I completed my NQF Level 2 in Wholesale and Retail. I attended an awards ceremony to receive my certificate and I was so proud of myself.
After the training I was offered a permanent position in the bakery at Shoprite Checkers Chatsworth. I love my job. I like to work fast and keep the customers happy. I don’t like them to stand in a long queue waiting.
When new staff join the team, I teach them what to do with the experience I have gained. I love interacting with the customers. I always smile. Smiling is important in my job.
I am confident interacting with the customers. I’m not shy or hide away because I’m Deaf. I just wish that sometimes people would see me differently. Not only as a Deaf person. Just a person. A capable, confident person who speaks another language. That’s all.
I would love to be the first Deaf assistant Manager. Why not? I have all the experience necessary. I have a good work ethic. I am reliable and passionate about the bakery, just like Mark taught me.
When I visit my Gogo she tries to give me money, but I tell her I don’t need money anymore because I have my own job and that makes her very proud of me.
Deaf people can do anything except hear!