| EASTERN CAPE

Blind Eastern Cape couple hope to go back to school

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When I had my own eyes I had big dreams, says Port St Johns man

Sibusiso Mdokwe and Sibusiso Dayimani with their son Lisolethu in their aunt’s house in Port St John’s. Photo supplied by Modi Maqabaza.
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Sibusiso Mdokwe was 22 years old when a boy in his village hit him in the face. The incident left him blind and shattered his dreams of becoming a teacher.

The 37-year-old man from Tombo village in Port St Johns said he dropped out of school in grade 11. But at a school for the blind a few years later, he met his partner, Sibusiso Dayimani, and the couple now have a one-year old child, Lisolethu (“our eye”).

Dayimani, 24, dreams of becoming a fashion designer and starting her own project assisting blind people.

All they want is to go back to school to complete their studies and find ways to earn money to bring up their son. But they are battling to raise the money they need - registration fees of R4 000 registration before 1 September. The family lives on two disability grants and a child grant. This comes to R3,550 a month.

GroundUp learned about the couple from Umanyano Lwabaphulaphuli Initiative co-ordinator Modi Maqabaza who posted about them on his social networks, seeking donations for the couple to go back to school.

Maqabaza said one of their members had identified the couple. “We found out that they are living in an aunt’s house and they have been struggling to find a place of their own,” he said.

When the pair met, Dayimani was completing her introduction to braille and Mdokwe was finishing his braille course. Due to financial challenges Dayimani, who is from East London, area only finished the introductory course and then left school.

Dayimani told GroundUp she had been born blind. She was raised by her grandmother who died years ago. Her family was poor and they didn’t know much about blind school and it was only in 2011 that she found out about the school.

Mdokwe said he wanted to give his only son the education he and Dayimani had not had.

“When I had my own eyes I had big dreams I wanted to go to university to study teaching. I could see myself standing in front of learners teaching. I can still teach braille,” he said.

Mdokwe said when his girlfriend was pregnant they prayed that their child would be able to to see.

“Now that God has granted us our wish we would like to take care of that wish. We want to send our son to a better school,” he said.

Mdokwe said he needed to pass grade 12 then would teach braille. He has completed the braille course.

The couple said they had found a space at Konwaba training institute in Port Alfred where Dayimani could continue learning braille and computer skills and Mdokwe could complete grade 12. The monthly fee would be R500 which they plan to pay from their grants. If they can raise the registration fee.

Konwaba training institute CEO Nandipha Bhani confirmed that the two need R2,000 each to register.

Eastern Cape social development spokesperson Mzukisi Solani said there were no bursaries for braille studies. Bursaries were only offered for studies in social work.

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TOPICS:  Disability Rights Education

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