YEARS OF EXCELLENCE FOR THE KZN SOCIETY FOR THE BLIND AND DEAF
By: Sanelisiwe Mangxaba
For more than ninety five years the KwaZulu-Natal Society for the Blind and Deaf has offered rehabilitation services to partially sighted and blind children and adults in KwaZulu-Natal.
The society has evolved into a dynamic, multifaceted organisation with its focus today on improving rehabilitation, education and employment opportunities for the blind community.
The society has become a home to those that do not have places to stay and those that have been rejected from their families because of their blindness both blind women and men weave cane furniture to sustain their families and make a living for themselves.
“I have worked at the society for more than thirty years and this has helped me in sending my children to school. All my children are now graduates because of this caned furniture,” said Nokubonga Mkhize.
The showroom is a sophisticated and upmarket shop filled with nicely made and painted chairs, baskets and other forms of furniture the blind have made.
Customers come as far as Eastern Cape, to buy the furniture and others to repair it.
“We are from Elliot Dale and we always come here because this place is the best at cane furniture. All our furniture at the farm has lasted us for many years and it was also from here,” said Margaret Van Zyl, a customer.
The society has also been an opportunity even to the sighted people of Durban because people who teach the children and those that paint the furniture are people who can see.
“Our main aim is uplifting society as a whole even though our main focus are blind people. We try to create space for even the sighted although their space is limited,” said Kenneth Ngwenya, manager at the society.
Noises of high pitched voices and laughter greet you as you approach the workshop of the society.
Bubbly personalities making jokes about their blindness and some about how they ended up being blind is what you hear. Some are singing and others are calling each other as they weave their nice and neat baskets.
The society has unleashed students and children who are much more confident and eager to face life despite their physical challenge.
Children at the pre-school are bright and confident, not afraid to raise their concerns and to question the teacher.
“These children are wonderful and brilliant, sometimes I thank God that I had to teach them because they inspire me,” said Ayanda Sangweni, Early Child Development teacher at the society.
The KZN Blind and Deaf Society has travelled the long road through penury and despair to success and distinction. It has located itself among the best institutions in the country.