---original message--- Subject: Pretoria Workshop for the Blind has changed so many lives Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2007 22:30:48 -0500 Allafrica.com Monday, December 03, 2007 Pretoria Workshop for the Blind has changed so many lives South Africa: Workshop Uplifts Disabled People BuaNews (Tshwane), PretoriaPretoria Workshop for the Blind has changed so many lives of disabled people while also managing to break stereotypes around people living with disabilities,
writes Luyanda Makapela.Cane-worker Zakes Champion, 47, who is blind, has been with the organisation for 17 years and working for the Pretoria Workshop for the Blind has changed his life after he was badly assaulted in 1979, loosing his eyesight completely.
"Since I have started here in the early nineties, the support that we have been given so far, both emotionally and financially, has been of great help. I can now be able to, unlike before, support my family without anyone feeling pity for me," said Mr Champion, a father of two daughters aged 27 and 14.
Soon after he realized that he lost his eyesight completely, rather than sitting and wait for handouts, Mr Champion enrolled for a three months training
Braille course in 1983.His dream came true in 1990 when he got a call to start working at the Pretoria Workshop for the Blind as a contracted cane-worker.
"Since I started working here, my family never went to bed hungry and through the little basic salary I received (then) every week and my disability grant,
everything has been going smoothly, until now," he said.Mr Champion said meeting with other blind people after struggled to accept that he would no longer see anymore has encouraged him to always aim high.
"After I joined the organisation in 1990 and after I met other people who were born blind it changed my whole life and I decided to pull myself together
and beat the stereotypes."Through the help and support (of the organisation), I go to town by myself, pay my accounts... do my grocery and everything that an able person can do
without assistance from anyone," said Mr Champion with a chuckle.The Pretoria Workshop for the Blind, managed by Emmie Boshoff and partly subsidised by the government, employs 106 people on a permanent basis, 65 percent
of whom have disabilities.A further 100 people are employed on contract during the peak season of whom more than 20 have also disabilities.
The organisation now belongs to its' employees and 50 percent of profits are shared with them as an annual bonus. The balance is used to further the organisation.
Another employee, Mike Moagi, 56, of Mamelodi is semi-blind and has a hearing problem.
He joined the Pretoria Workshop for the Blind in 1996 after he was unemployed for several years.
Mr Moagi, who once depended on handouts and used to beg on the streets to feed his wife and three children, said since he joined the organisation, his
life was getting better everyday."When I first came to work at the centre, only able-people operated sealing machines, but when I arrived, I was one of the few who were chosen to operate
the machine though I was half-blind."This has taught me that besides being blind, you have to try your outmost best to prove that nothing can stop you from doing what you are destined to
do, whether able or disabled," Mr Moagi said.He appealed to those people who lived with people living with disabilities to come forward and take them to special schools for assistance, rather than
keeping them at home."As we celebrate the International Day for People Living with Disabilities, I would like to appeal to communities who have people with disabilities to seek assistance to social welfare organizations on how they can be helped in terms of necessary life skills," Mr Moagi said.
A longest serving employee, Moses Kekana, 63, who has been working for the organisation-turned-business for more that 45 years, said working and tutoring disabled people has been very interesting and delightful although he never thought he will succeed.
"I did not encounter any problem with these people, they are so inquisitive, dedicated and always keen to learn new thing everyday," he said.
Mr Kekana started at the organisation soon after he completed his Form Three (now Grade 10), tutor's carpentry and making baskets and chairs.
One of proud achievements of the Pretoria Workshop for the Blind is the building of a R4,5 million showroom in 2006 where products are displayed and sold.
The product was limited to cane baskets in 1992, but after Ms Boshoff's intervention the work team now produced all types of furniture - chairs, tables, frames and even blinds as well as fertilizer sticks which are distributed nationally and internationally.
http://allafrica.com/stories/200712030923.html ------------------------------ ---------- To send a message to the list, send any message to blindza@xxxxxxxxxxxxx ---------- To unsubscribe from this list, send a message to blindza-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the subject line --- The 'homepage' for this list is at http://www.blindza.co.za