A life dedicated to the service of others
A remarkable woman who showed the deaf a new path in their lives.
Elisa Gonzalez de Chaves (1914-1967)
Elisa Gonzalez de Chaves was a very remarkable woman but 100 years after her birth, her work has not yet been recognised by the relevant authorities.
Perhaps, as with others who made their mark on society, this is due to the disinterest of many, the ignorance of others or just the unfortunate and inevitable oblivion which condemns dedication to the past.
Such service should never be forgotten, however, and this is true of Elisa Gonzalez de Chaves, a woman who dedicated her life to helping those with hearing deficiencies.
Elisa Gonzalez de Chaves was born on July 12th, 1914. She was the daughter of Antonio González de Chaves y Fernández de Acosta and Leonor González de Chaves y Pérez Valladares.
Elisa was the youngest of
seven children. At the age of four, she lost her mother and was only 15 when her father died, leaving her as an orphan.
Her sisters rallied round and were there to give her strong support and guidance for the rest of her life.
Elisa studied at the college of Hermanas de la Caridad de La Orotava and then in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
She had the desire to be able to talk and communicate with those who were either deaf or hard of hearing because she understood their misfortune and the social isolation they suffered as a result of their condition.
An important step was taken in her life when she became aware of the existence of a school where she could learn to talk to the deaf and to understand the sounds they made.
With this motivation, Elisa joined the Educational Institute of the Deaf and Blind, which existed in the Paseo del General Mola, in Barcelona. Here, Elisa learned to speak, also attending a series of classes and seminars where she perfected her speech and ability of expression with others. Along with this learning, she acquired a diverse knowledge that enabled her to teach others who were in the same situation. Thus, after training and with the idea of ? teaching others the knowledge and skills she had acquired, she decided to return to Tenerife in 1956.
Once on the island, Elisa was very aware of the complex task she needed to develop, but without hesitation, she went to different places on the island looking for deaf people who were unable to com-municate and to show them a new path in their lives.
The circumstances were not favorable and the means Elisa had were scare but some how, she managed to take the few teaching resources she had for the first time in a room in a bad state of repair owned by the Delegation of the Women’s Section of Santa Cruz.
She later taught in a secondary school and took a class on an interim basis in the “San Fernando” School Group.
The need to find a suitable fixed place resulted in multiple requests and applications and Elisa finally gained a favorable response. Her masterpiece was the creation of a school for deaf mutes.
However, it took ten years, during which there were many petitions, requests for help and appeals to achieve a project that could ultimately conquer countless obstacles that seemed utopia to become a reality.
The work was slow and by cruel fate, Elisa never saw the realisation of her dream. She died on August 4th, 1967 and was hailed for her “charity, perserverance and service to others.”
With her death, however, her work and her life blurred with the passing of time.
A street in the capital of Tenerife remembers her name but she awaits the greater recognition she deserves.
A hundred years after her birth, Elisa waits patiently for a worthy tribute to her memory and life.