Dr. Ciwa Griffiths-August 16, 2010

Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.                                        

Matthew 13:9

My Aunt, Dr. Ciwa Griffiths, Ph.D

Dr. Ciwa Griffiths is my aunt and my hero. Out of all the people I know she has had the most impact on the world today. I stand in amazement of her accomplishments.

She is a pioneer in the field of hearing loss.  She was one of the first people to realize that even if a person is profoundly deaf, if you place a hearing aid on them a lot of them will be able to hear and if you place it on a baby, they will grow up being a part of the hearing world. At the time when my aunt suggested putting hearing aids on babies, everyone thought she was crazy. Nowadays a child has to be tested for hearing loss before it leaves the hospital-and that law is in large part to her efforts.
She started the HEAR Foundation in Eagle Rock, California in 1954. It would later become the HEAR Center and move to Pasadena, where it still resides to this day.  I often marveled at her and her determination to overcome obstacles. She is my inspiration. She died in 2003, shortly after my son was born. However, the first thing she wanted to know after his birth was “Did the hospital test his hearing before he left.” I assured her they had. She said “Good, I worked very hard to get that law passed that made it mandatory for children to be tested before they leave the hospital so I like to make sure it is being followed.”
That was my Aunt Ciwa, one to never give up. One to not take the easy way out or listen to the naysayers who tell her something can’t be done. My aunt was born in 1911 when women couldn’t even vote let alone go around starting organizations.  She was the ninth child of ten (Ciwa pronounced THEE WA means nine in the Fijian language. )  and has written books on her life. She is the reason I can do any of my genealogy! The woman is a godsend!
She is my hero because we are a lot alike, me and her. We stand by what we believe and if you have a problem with it, oh well. She is my hero because she loved her family more than anything else. She is my inspiration and I hope one day when I pass on, I will made a change in the world  the way she has.  She is a force to be reckoned with. God bless Ciwa Griffiths!

4 thoughts on “Dr. Ciwa Griffiths-August 16, 2010

  1. Hi Dena:
    I was fascinated to read your tribute to Ciwa Griffiths. I entirely agree. I discovered her through her niece (grand niece?) Gerry Whitmont who lent me Ciwa’s wonderful book, ‘One Out of Ten’. (Gerry is the daughter of Naomi who is the daughter of Ran (Arthur George Randolph Griffiths) who was Ciwa’s eldest brother).

    I hope you won’t consider it rude of me to ask about your Black heritage. I am writing a book in which Ciwa’s mother, Jennie Scott Griffiths, plays a big role. I have been doing some genealogical research into Jennie’s father and mother, and have been intrigued to find that descendants in both their family lines have searched for ‘Black Dutch’ ancestors because of their appearance. When Jennie was in Sydney in 1914 one newspaper described her mother as Creole, but on what authority I cannot say, unless Jennie herself said so. As far as I can tell none of the US descendants have been able to establish any basis for believing they have an African American or Native American heritage.

    So, having read your blog and discovered that you had done genealogical research I am contacting you in the hope that I may be able to clarify this matter. And I am not sure which of Ciwa’s brothers and sisters you are descended from. (Of course I realize that your Black heritage may have nothing to do with the Griffiths family.)

    Looking forward to your reply,

    Kind regards,
    Clio Radix

  2. I am “descended” from her brother, Leonard Griffiths. He was my grandfather
    His daughter, Judith Lynn adopted me when I was nine months old. So while I am not related by blood they are the only family I have ever known. How is Geri doing? Tell her I miss her. I have not seen my cuz in years. Dena

  3. Thank you, Dena, for your quick reply and the information about your adoptive family. Since sending my original post I discovered your blog entry on trying to find your biological parents, so I feel a bit silly at asking for the same information. Forgive me.
    Your grand-dad Len must have been an admirable and loving person (I can only rely on Ciwa’s portrait of him).
    Gerry has some health problems but is a ball of energy. I have been helping her get her Jennie Scott Griffiths papers into the National Library of Australia. She and I will be catching up soon so I will pass on your message to her. I don’t think she knows about your blog. Best wishes, Clio Radix.

  4. I met Dr. Griffiths in October 1961, when my parents brought me to see her. I was one of those kids who benefited from binaural hearing aids… and years later, when I had become completely deaf, had the aural memory from those early days to benefit immensely from binaural cochlear implants. In our family, the name “Ciwa Griffiths” was akin to God. Thank God for wome like her who thought outside the box and never gave up. Warmest regards, to your family and the legacy you continue to honor.. Janet Johanson

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