Cape Town, 05 February 2024: On the first day of the build-up activities to the State of the Nation Address (SoNA) by the Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu; visually impaired people and who those with low and reduced vision, applauded the work, and support they received from the Cape Town Society for the Blind - an organisation supported by the National Development Agency (NDA).
The NDA is one of the two department’s entities and had bought for the organisation its state of the art equipment to provide much needed services to the community.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his last SONA on Thursday for the sixth administration.
Ms Roeshda Panday, who now works as a receptionist at the Low Vision Clinic within the organisation said that her life changed dramatically after she lost her vision in 2020. This was after she had been having pounding headaches and 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,” said Panday.
The 52-year-old Panday said she excelled in the courses offered at the Low Vision Clinic and was then offered an internship to work at the clinic. She further said 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 said she learned a lot more from working with the optometrist at the clinic who taught her a lot about the anatomy of the eye. Her advice to the incoming class who require assistance with low vision problem is that they should grab every opportunity offered to them at the Cape Town Society for the Blind. According to Pandy: “finding help with eyesight their challenges is a wonderful opportunity to develop and learn new skills. I want to encourage these young people to avail themselves for the courses offered here so they can live a good life and provide for their families.”
Mr Sergil January, another beneficiary at the organisation that he became blind in 2006 after he was shot in his head. January said he refused to let losing his eyesight tear down his confidence. 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 Awareness Officer within the organisation.
January’s work includes conducting outreach programmes at schools and even participating on 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,” said January.
His advice to the new class was that: “anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Set your goals and go achieve it. Being blind should not stop you from achieving your dreams.”
Addressing the meeting, the Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, encouraged the new class of students 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 progamme offered the Cape Town Society for the Blind is a great opportunity and I want to urge you to give it your best,” said Minister Zulu.
The Cape Town Society for the Blind is a Non-Profit Organisation registered with the Department of Social Development, and funded by its agency, the National Development Agency (NDA) which assist persons who struggle with their eyesight by equipping them with skills so they may reclaim and live positive lives of making a positive impact in society. The NPO provides Low Vision Assessment and Treatment Clinic services.
The organisation utilised an amount of more than 558 thousand Rand from the NDA to purchase equipment for the Low Vision Clinic and their Braille programme as well as on staff training courses to upskill their rehabilitation staff.
On the day, Minister Zulu also visited another organisation, the Sozo Foundation, a local NPO in the Cape Flats which was funded by the NDA and 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.
Tomorrow, Minister Zulu will continue with pre-SoNA outreach activities by hosting a dialogue with boys and girls on teenage pregnancy planned as follows:
Date: Tuesday, 06 February 2024
Venue: 52 Ibali Street, Mbekweni, Paarl, Ihlumelo Junior Secondary School
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT