"I'm losing my hearing more and more."
That took us by surprise.
The first time we had a chat with social entrepreneur Lily Goh, we found out she had a profound-to-severe degree of deafness. She's been deaf since she was 2, and she's "getting worse," the 33-year-old told us through a mixture of notepad scribbling, sign language and speaking.
What surprised us more than the idea that deaf people could get deafer was that Lily has no self-pity, no bitterness. Instead, we saw a determination to help others who are deaf.
The Singaporean talked about raising awareness about deaf culture. She spoke about helping deaf children in Cambodia by introducing them to music, giving them access to something that gives her great joy.
Did we mention that Lily and her deaf friends, who call themselves ExtraOrdinary Horizons, play some serious percussion?
That surprised us too: deaf people making music.
We were to be surprised many more times in the weeks of getting to know some of the members of the group, hanging out and filming their practice sessions and performances.
Regular But Extraordinary
They're regular people, with familiar pleasures like traveling, playing football or basketball, baking, reading and spending time with friends. In getting to know them, speaking through "broken" sign language and just being in their presence, we soaked up their energy. They are so vibrant, so full of joy.
They also have fears and frustrations, but these, too, are not uncommon: conflict within families, arguments with friends, break-ups and difficulties at school or work. They aspire to be actors and performing artists, good at their jobs and awesome friends. Surprisingly ordinary?
Truth be told, we were fully expecting ordinary -- even out-of-sync -- drumming at the first music practice I attended. So much for being open-minded. What we saw was extraordinary precision, coordination and tenacity.
Most of all, they blew us away with their deep love of and commitment to music. So inspiring were they that Singaporean indie band Black Forest not only wrote them a song, but teamed up with them in a music video, too.
We are pretty sure it will blow you away.
You can also learn more about deaf culture or take up a sign language course with the group. Find out how.
This article was written by Joshua Lye, Head of Content at Our Better World.