RISING ABOVE LIMITATIONS
By: Mondli Ngubane
As a young boy he was injured while at school when his school mate threw rusted mental right above his right eye brow. The injuries he sustained resulted in him being totally blind in 1985.
Kenneth Ngwenya was born partially sighted in 1972, but still went to a normal school because he wasn’t totally blind at the time. In class, he used to sit in front because he couldn’t see clearly and his peers would complain saying he was blocking the board.
After the accident, his sight deteriorated. He was referred to Enduduzweni Special School for the blind. A school that catered for pupils without sight. This is where he was introduced to an organisation called The Society for the Blind (KZNBS), which changed his life forever.
The Society for the Blind helped him in 1988 to have an eye operation. The organisation took him to various doctors to see if he can be assisted in avoiding total loss of sight because he had sight problems from birth.
After the operation, Ngwenya regained 60% of his sight with the help of the KZNBS. This happened when he was still in grade 7.
He started working for the organisation in 1990 as a basket weaver. He is now working for them as a Production and Sales Manager. His department serves to equip and empower blind and partially sighted persons to be independent through training and teaching them how to weave cane products and also help them impart business skills necessary which enables them to market their products.
Before working for the organisation Kenneth had his own business called KZN Blind Weavers but he had to close down because of mistakes that were made. Mistakes that he claims to have learnt from.
“I think it was God’s plan for me to establish that business because I got more skills from the outside than inside welfare. I got more skills from the help I got from South Africa breweries, they have trained me and I can give a well deserving applause back to the organisation. I’m grateful to be working for this organisation,” said Ngwenya.
Ngwenya has three children; his eldest son is a graduate and his wife lectures at eThewkini Coastal College. His entire family has proper sight. Ngwenya’s wife says she doesn’t mind that he has a vision problem he has always risen above his limitations.
Ngwenya says he is grateful for all the effort made by people around him by allowing him to learn, make mistakes, fail, laugh and keep on going strong. He believes that always moving forward despite challenges and obstacles that he encounters along the way is exactly what has kept him and the society strong. “I am so proud of how employees of the society united towards ensuring that the Society continues to render its service to the community,” said Ngwenya.
Ngwenya says making baskets is an art that helps him feed his family.
“Making basket is an art which made who I am and still giving me income,” said Ngwenya.
“I’m grateful for all the skills I’ve learned here and I’m glad I started as a weaver. Had it not been for the society for the blind I don’t know where I would be today.”
The KZNBS ensures the empowerment and improvement of the life and status of blind and partially sighted persons, their families and where possible people with other disabilities.