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LONELY TOGETHER a project from Voice Of The Speechless



The lyrics of the heartfelt song, LONELY TOGETHER, written by South African artist, Ziya (a.k.a. Jana Viljoen), supported by visual director, video editor and co-producer Nick Costaras and co-producer Chris Letcher, take on new meaning when you realize that those families and individuals living with special needs, face a constant state of lockdown: "To you, it is the new normal, to me, it's just another day."

Ziya a South African musician, composer, songwriter, and co-founder of the Brain Child Fund currently lives in Philadelphia in the USA, with her husband - Hannes - and their four children. She recounts a conversation with a parent with special needs children:

"They were permanently in Lockdown. Their son has compromised immunity, which essentially means that they cannot go anywhere as he is very fragile. We are all essentially the same," says the singer-songwriter. "During the lockdown, we were lonely together. The forced lockdown highlighted our need for connection and our desire to love and be loved.

"COVID-19 created a 'new normal' where people felt trapped and isolated, the reality for special needs individuals who feel trapped in their bodies. These incredible souls with thoughts and dreams feel as trapped in their own bodies as we felt during the lockdown."

LONELY TOGETHER is part of Voice of the Speechless (VOS), an initiative of the Brain Child Fund, a non-profit organization founded in 2009 and serving special needs families through entertainment, education, support, and by raising awareness. VOS records these children's sounds and environments, documents their journey, and captures their stories in songs and music videos, offering a glimpse into their backgrounds and countries.

LONELY TOGETHER is the first track in a series made in collaboration with families and artists around the world. It will culminate in a short documentary. Recordings were done using smartphones, removing the need to travel in person, and demonstrating the power of technology in communicating during this new normal. It features 18 families, including her own, from South Africa, America, and Nigeria.

"We hope this project gives people a depth of insight into the daily lives of people with special needs. Our lockdown did not start with COVID-19, it is a lifestyle we happen to be used to," says Christy and Shawn from Nigeria, whose son has developmental challenges.

American couple Joe and Dawn Gallagher and their family also participated. "Our family is so excited to be a part of this project because we know that love needs no words."

Valencia Viviers and her son Jayden are from South Africa and also feature in the video. "With Jayden, I have learned about silence and that it also has a meaning. Without words, I understand my son. VOS is making it possible for the world to also understand these children and their families."

Ziya and Hannes Viljoen have four incredible and unique children. Kyna (15) survived a pediatric stroke, Gian (14) has Down Syndrome and Autism, and Leo (12) is on the Autism spectrum. Abigale (11), says her mom, is her siblings' cheerleader. "Our children's diagnoses do not define them, and we are privileged to be their parents.

"I hope that the raw emotion and beauty of the video will touch people and that it will bring about a shift in their hearts and minds. I want people to see and experience the beauty of special needs individuals first-hand," says Ziya.



Families of special needs children, who would like to contribute video or sound clips towards this project, or for more information about donations or becoming involved, can visit or send an e-mail to to find out what the requirements are.

Let's be the voice of the speechless.

Download LONELY TOGETHER here:

Watch a short concept video about VOS here:

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