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High hopes for Marrakesh

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In case you haven’t heard, the Marrakesh Treaty came into force on 30 September 2016. It seeks to boost the volume of texts for blind and print disabled people around the world. This is vital, because currently only about 10% of published materials are available in accessible formats, such as Braille, large print and audio.


Hanif Kruger, SANCB’s Resource Centre Manager, is excited about this. “There is a worldwide book famine for blind or print disabled people. The Marrakesh Treaty aims to alleviate this shortage of material. I’m also looking at our government to clean up the Copyright Act so that we can provide education and opportunities to all people who are deserving of it.”
 

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Powering up the blind community

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Knowing what price tag to put on your product is a tricky business – and unfortunately, incorrect pricing can sink the best efforts of our visually impaired entrepreneurs.


But thanks to ABSA, 17 enterprises run by visually impaired entrepreneurs now have a clear understanding of how it’s done.


Over the course of the past year, ABSA has provided these enterprises with business training that covers pricing, record keeping, book keeping and business promotion.


We’ve been delighted by the results. In July, 12 visually impaired voluntary workers from Masibambane in Tjakastad, Mpumalanga, received training. This enterprise manufactures wood products and says the training has empowered them to make many changes for the better. “We have improved our record keeping and promote our products more effectively. We no longer keep money on our premises. Our staff are also much more customer focussed,” Masibambane chairlady, Thuli Mkhatshwa, said proudly.


Thank you, ABSA, for empowering visually impaired entrepreneurs – and bolstering employment among people with disabilities.
 

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Making 67 minutes count

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We’re grateful to each and every person who supported visually impaired South Africans as part of their 67 Minutes for Madiba on 18 July last year.


SANCB staff and a team of volunteers from Exxaro performed their community service at Ikemiseng Association for the Blind in Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria. The group cleared an overgrown piece of land for cultivation and helped water their vegetable garden. Thanks to Exxaro and Tshwane Municipality for sponsoring and supporting us in this worthwhile endeavour.


In another initiative, the AECI group and its subsidiary Acacia Real Estate mobilised staff nationwide to support our Rand-a-Day campaign.
The Star newspaper donated over 100 reading glasses, with 20 people from Mamelodi, Pretoria benefiting from this kind gesture following free eye screening by the SANCB’s Bureau for the Prevention of Blindness.


Thank you for thinking of us and keeping Madiba’s legacy alive.
 

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The sky’s the limit for Colette

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15-year-old Colette Roos has got gumption! When her parents couldn’t afford to send her to a Space Camp in the USA, this plucky teenager took it upon herself to obtain a scholarship to cover the cost. Then she made the long trip to Huntsville, Alabama – on her own!


Held at NASA in September last year, the Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students is a week-long event for blind and partially sighted students with an interest in maths and science.


Colette joined 14 other students in an exciting yet challenging activity, which included building rockets and experiencing simulated space.


“This is a week I will always remember. It was an opportunity to gain independence and meet new friends,” said the Grade 10 pupil. Colette has uploaded two Q&A videos about her trip on YouTube – where you can also view her music videos.


It’s compassionate acts like these that help blind learners believe that they can go anywhere their dreams take them. Thank you!
 

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How you’ve helped this little group to grow

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Masihlanganeni Association for the Disabled
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The Masihlanganeni Association for the Disabled never fails to impress us with their determination to overcome hardship. Founded in March 1998 with 10 members, their first meetings were held in a car, in a pub, and in a caravan.

They finally moved to a community center, where SANCB provided training in small business, household detergent manufacture and mat making. The group has since acquired a nappy-making machine and they earn an income selling nappies, mats, bags and detergents to the community. Earlier this year, SANCB started a new round of small business training for new members, to ensure that Masihlanganeni stays at the top of their game!

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You’ve got the power to change a blind child’s life

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Caring friends make all the difference in blind children’s lives.

Like 10-year-old Fizza Khan and Laylaa Jacobs – whom we were fortunate enough to catch up with recently.

They’ve benefited enormously from the generosity of our supporters, who’ve placed crucial early learning tools in their hands.

If you’d like to make a difference in the lives of more blind children, please make your online donation today.

It’ll contribute towards learning aids for young, visually impaired boys and girls this Christmas.

And what’s more, your gift will help them cut a confident path through school, which could otherwise be a daunting task for a visually impaired child.

Not only have the girls received Perkins braillers from our Resource Centre, but Laylaa’s received a braille Scrabble set and Fizza was given a Perkins Panda audio kit.

If you make your contribution right away, these educational toys will be a reality for other young children who also need them.

So please will you make life much more satisfying – and fun – for visually impaired children by making your pledge today?
 

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Cataracts don't only affect the elderly

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Did you know that some babies are born with cataracts, or a clouding of the eye’s lens? This is called congenital cataracts – and all three of the Oosthuizen boys, from Pretoria, were born with this condition. Fortunately, because their mother was also born with it, doctors picked it up early, and the boys had surgery when they were only two months old.

Without such early intervention, congenital cataracts cause “lazy eye”, a condition which can lead to other problems such as involuntary eye movements, crossed eyes and an inability to fix one’s gaze upon objects. Such problems can profoundly impact learning ability, personality and even appearance, which ultimately affects a child’s entire life.

When they were 10 months old, the boys received lens implants. But because their eyes are still growing, the lenses can’t work optimally, and the boys have to wear tinted multi-focal glasses to assist their vision. You can imagine the cost of buying all three boys specialised glasses every year. That’s why Mrs Oosthuizen contacted us. She knew she couldn’t put a price to her sons’ vision, even though she couldn’t afford the cost of the spectacles.

Thanks to the support of sponsors like you, we were able to open the doors of our specialised services to assist this energetic family. At our low vision clinic, the boys and their mother were properly screened and evaluated by a low vision specialist and optometrist. We discovered Mrs Oosthuizen was still using a scratched, 20-year-old magnifier she was given when she was at school!

We’ll do everything in our power to assist these intelligent boys to reach their full potential. They all attend Prinshof School for visually impaired children and lead full and busy lives. The two elder boys, Dune (13) and Vaughn (11), want to become computer programmers when they finish school, while Beaux (9) is enjoying life too much to think so far ahead. A full, bright future awaits these young boys because you’ve helped create specialised services at Council that they can rely on.

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A friend to the end - leaving a legacy

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It’s difficult to know how much money we’ll need to see us through our lives – which sometimes makes it hard to work out how much we can safely donate to our favourite charities.

That’s why it’s such a good idea to leave a memento or sum of money to your favourite charity in your Will. Our President’s Circle is a special group of people, (with Dr. William Rowland as the patron), who’ve included the South African National Council for the Blind in their Will.

Leaving a bequest to Council costs you nothing now, reduces the total value of your estate, and saves tax. And your kindness will be remembered for years to come.

To find out more about the President’s Circle, contact Nishen.

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Blinded by glaucoma

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Robbed of sight by the silent thief - Glaucoma

When words started disappearing off the paper in front of her eyes, Ellen Bokwana, a mother of three from Potchefstroom, took herself off for an eye test.

She had been involved in a car accident in 2001, and thought that her sight was deteriorating because of the accident. But it wasn’t long before she was given the devastating news that she had glaucoma – and that the disease was so far gone that she would lose her sight completely.

Like Ellen, most people only realise they have glaucoma when they are already losing their sight – and it’s too late to arrest the disease.

Despite feeling like her world had collapsed around her, Ellen bravely continued going to work at the Department of Defence. But instead of doing administrative work, she was placed in a job where she handed out forms and advice.

Her luck changed when a blind colleague was transferred from Pretoria to Potchefstroom. A former student of Optima, he told Ellen about Optima’s training and the possibilities it would create for her.

Ellen is now training in computer literacy and is looking forward to getting a promotion and a more challenging position when she returns to work with her new skills and knowledge.

There are many things in life that Ellen sorely misses now that she is blind – but there are many other activities that she is looking forward to unlocking: like reading books once she has mastered the computer, and learning to cook without sight.

Ellen used to be a wonderful cook before she lost her vision and we look forward to the day she has mastered her skills again – and invites us over for a home-cooked meal!

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Quote: Support us success stories-2010-11-16 15:38

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Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.

Author: 
Barbara De Angelis
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