Feb 2024 2nd edition

Students encouraged to reach for their dreams

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has encouraged the new cohort of students at the Cape Town Society for the Blind to use the year-long course to learn, grow and provide for their families. 

“Nothing must stop you from achieving your dreams. Take the skills you will aquire and use them to improve your lives.  This programme, offered by the Cape Town Society for the Blind, is a great opportunity and I want to urge you to give it your best,“ Minister Zulu said.  

The Minister recently spoke to the students during a two-day outreach programme focusing on teenage pregnancy, gender-based violence, youth, women and persons with disabilities in and around the City of Cape Town. 

The Cape Town Society for the Blind is a non-profit organisation (NPO) registered with the Department of Social Development, and funded by the National Development Agency (NDA).

The NPO assists persons who struggle with their eyesight by equipping them with skills so that they may reclaim and live positive lives and make a positive impact in society. The NPO provides Low Vision Assessment and Treatment Clinic services. 

According to the department, the organisation used more than R558 000 from the NDA to purchase equipment for the Low Vision Clinic and their Braille programme as well as on staff training courses. 

Roeshda Panday (52) works as a receptionist at the Low Vision Clinic. Her life changed dramatically after she lost her vision in 2020 after struggling with headaches.  

She was later diagnosed with a brain tumour which affected her optic nerve. 

“As a single mother, it was difficult to adjust to my new life but survival mode kicked in, so I started reading up on blindness and discovered this society that gives support to people like me. It was here, at Low Vision Clinic, that I found a community of people who gave me support and care as I learnt how to live with my condition,” Panday said.  

She excelled in the courses offered at the clinic and was later appointed as an intern at the clinic. 

“I found my joy by helping those who walked through the clinic doors. We can all learn so much from each other,” she said.  
The optometrist at the clinic also taught her about the anatomy of the eye. She advised the new class to grab every opportunity offered by the NPO.   

Another beneficiary, Sergil January, said he became blind in 2006 after he was shot in the head. However, he refused to have his confidence taken away by the loss of his eyesight. 

In 2009, he joined the NPO and completed a computer course. Two years down the line, he took up the position of an awareness officer within the organisation.  

January’s work includes conducting outreach programmes at schools and even participating in radio and television interviews regularly to educate communities and persons who need help. 

“I am responsible for creating awareness and advocacy for this amazing organisation that continues to change lives and, in the process, I have grown so much and can confidently say that this is my space, and these are my people,” January said adding that being blind should not stop people from achieving their dreams.  –SAnews.gov.za

For more information, contact the Cape Town Society for the Blind on 021 448 4302 or info@ctsb.org.za.  
The Department of Social Development: 012 312 7727 or customercare@dsd.gov.za. The National Development Agency:  011 018 5500 or info@nda.org.za.

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