Can you imagine being blind?

Since I’ve started working in community radio I’ve obviously had to become “community-focussed” and change my entire mind set. I’ve never really cared about community issues before (as harsh as that may sound), but now I am forced to. At my previous job I had to be more politically-focussed and had to keep abreast of international issues. So this was a huge shift for me.

So just after I took up the position, I was told to do a feature on Blind Buddy Day. At the time I was like, wha-aat?? Blind Buddy Day??? This is sooooo not journalism! But I had no choice. Blind Buddy Day, I was to find out through interviews, is an initiative by the League of Friends of the Blind to raise funds and awareness about blind and visually impaired people, as it costs a lot for organisations such as Lofob to empower them.

In addition to writing about Blind Buddy Day and Lofob I was instructed to pay a visit to the Cape Town Society for the Blind and do a whole feature on blind people and the discrimination they face on a daily basis. At first I wasn’t completely happy with this. I wanted to get out there and do “real” journalism work.

So I visited CTSB to interview some people about the place and what services they offer. In the foyer there were loads of woven items such as pedestals, cribs, chairs, tables etc.

The head of fundraising, Sedick Jordan, answered some of my questions and introduced me to a blind person before taking me on a tour.

The blind person he introduced me to was Adrian Davids, an eloquent and educated 28-year-old who went blind at 11 years old due to an illness.

Adrian completed school, studied sound engineering and worked at Bush radio for a while. He is the first person in Africa to complete the International Computer Driving Licence Core course, which consists of seven modules. And just by engaging with the guy you can tell he’s intelligent and determined. Yet, he can’t find a job. And this is the discrimination that so many blind and visually impaired people out there face. They have all the skills and qualifications to do a job but companies won’t hire them because they think hiring a blind person would set them back in some way.

So I went on a tour of CTSB. I cannot describe the feeling of seeing blind people weave baskets and work on computers. Immediately you feel some sort of sympathy for them. But that feeling disappears after seeing that they don’t actually have a problem doing anything without their vision.

Soon after this visit I returned. But this time for the opening of a coffee shop. I was invited to the launch of the coffee shop that was opened on the premises of CTSB. The shop will be run by blind and visually impaired people as far as possible – from the managers to the waiters. The aim is not only to raise funds but also awareness – to show sighted people that those without vision can do just about anything they want to do.

At the launch there were partially-sighted waiters and even blind people entertaining guests with ballroom dances! I was amazed to see this.

And just seeing how they went about their business with ease made me feel so grateful for having a fully-functional body. Can you imagine having your sight taken away fom at the young and tender age of 11?

We should appreciate our capabilities and not discriminate against anyone with a disability. We need learn to accept people with disabilities and help empower them where we can so that they can be a part of our society. The blind are people too. Support Blind Buddy Day on 28 May buy purchasing a sticker for R10 and don’t forget about the new coffee shop at CTSB. They need our support!

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