Together with organisations from around the world, the International White Cane Safety Day is celebrated annually through different events. The International White Cane Safety Awareness Day Fun Walk, run and hosted by the SA National Council for the Blind, was a great success and MySchool donated R100 per registered entry. Council, in turn, promised to use these funds to make white canes more readily available to needy blind people for whom the cane is not only a vital tool for their daily lives, but also a symbol of their independence.
Two of the lucky recipients of some of these canes were students from their Optima College, Phumlile Hadebe and Sindisiwe Masuku, who are both doing the Call Centre Operator Training course. Phumlile and Sindisiwe successfully completed an intensive computer training course at Optima before proceeding towards a qualification in call centre training.
With just a two year age gap between them, their lives have been tragically similar. Phumlile lost her sight to measles at age 5, and in the same year, so did Sindisiwe at age 3. Sindisiwe remembers Phumlile from their time together at Vulelwa School for the Blind in KZN. They hail from rural KwaZulu Natal, Phumlile comes from Nkandla and Sindisiwe from Kwa Ngwanase, near the Mozambiquean border.
Unfortunately, due to the sad demise of her father who always encouraged her, Phumlile had to drop out of Filadelfia Secondary School in 1994. She returned to her family, where she is the eldest of seven children, because her disability grant was their sole income from 1995 to 2007. Following an ABET course in KZN, she learnt of the opportunities she could find through Optima. She wants to complete her matric and would like to study social work through Unisa. A mother of one daughter, Phumlile wishes she could have her vision back just to see her daughter.
Sindisiwe was luckier, as she completed matric at Filadelfia and went on to do a switchboard operator training course at Optima College. She volunteered as a switchboard operator at Manguzi Hospital and then at the KZN Blind and Deaf Society. An active braille reader, Sindisiwe also volunteered as an ABET teacher for two years at Bawanile, wherein she taught social sciences. She also enjoys listening to the radio, visiting friends, singing and debating.
These two remarkable women, both found out about the opportunities available at Optima through their principal at Filadelphia. Even though their journey to get to Optima has not been easy or quick, Sindisiwe and Phumlile maintain that the work which Council does and the support which they've had at Optima is vital for their sense of independence as it is a stepping stone towards being productive contributors to society. Sindisiwe says that even though they are faced with many social hurdles and obstacles, she believes that "Donors who make our education and training at Optima possible are very blessed because with them we can take steps to living our dreams and making something of our lives."
The tremendous difference these white canes for mobility and other assistive devices, which are available to blind people, cannot be underestimated. The South African National Council for the Blind would like to thank MySchool for their support, which comes off the public's willingness to sign up to the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme. By simply registering at no cost and listing the South African National Council for the Blind as a beneficiary, you help make a definite difference in the lives of many people every time you freely swipe your card at a participating business partner.