Zulu encourages students to reach for their dreams

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

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 learn and use it 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,“ Zulu said. 

The Minister was speaking during the first day of build-up activities leading to the State of the Nation Address (SONA). 

Zulu is conducting 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 its agency, 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.

The visually impaired and those with low and reduced vision have applauded the work, and support they receive from the Cape Town Society for the Blind.

Roeshda Panday, who works as a receptionist at the Low Vision Clinic said that 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 which gave 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 learned how to live with my condition,” Panday said. 

The 52-year-old excelled in the courses offered at the clinic and was then offered an internship to work at the clinic.

She added that it was at the organisation that: “I found my joy by helping those who walked through the clinic doors. We can all learn so much from each other.” 

She also learned a lot more from the optometrist at the clinic who taught her about the anatomy of the eye. She advised the new class to grab every opportunity offered by the Cape Town Society for the Blind. 

Another beneficiary at the organisation, Sergil January, said that 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 Cape Town Society for the Blind where he completed a computer course. Two years down the line, which was in 2021, 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 on a regular basis 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.

Minister Zulu also visited another organisation, the Sozo Foundation, a local NPO in the Cape Flats which was funded by the NDA. The organisation renders youth development programmes, focusing on young people who are not in education, employment, or training.
This NPO achieves this by creating pathways to skills development and youth-led enterprises to address high rates of school dropout, gangsterism and youth unemployment in the area.

Today, Minister Zulu will continue with pre-SoNA outreach activities by hosting a dialogue with boys and girls on teenage pregnancy at Ihlumelo Junior Secondary School in Mbekweni, Paarl. – SAnews.gov.za