By: Puleng Maphisa – 17 November 2023

Shining a spotlight and raising awareness on blindness and other forms of visual impairments has consistently remained a primary objective for the second-year Public Relations students at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT).

As part of their assessment, the students were assigned a compelling project of identifying a non-governmental organisation (NGO) deserving of their support. The group ultimately chose to align with Blind South Africa, an organisation that promotes and facilitates the dignity and independence of blind and visually impaired South Africans.

Over the past few months, this collaboration has evolved into a meaningful partnership.

On 14 November 2023the PR group in collaboration with the South African Disability Alliance (SADA) organised an event on campus with the primary aim of raising awareness about blindness and visual impairment. The event hosted key figures from the Blind SA community, including Mr. Jace Nair, the CEO, Mr. David Nkwekwezi, the Disability Service Coordinator and all key roleplayers advocating for the blind community at VUT. Also in the midst was Nomasa Radebe, a visually impaired VUT alumna who graduated for her Diploma in Tourism Management earlier this year.

Mr. Nair, reflecting on the significance of the day, emphasized the unique opportunity to educate students on the daily lives of blind individuals. He underscored the importance of treating the blind not as special cases but as integral members of society. He further expressed gratitude for the unexpected recognition from the PR students, highlighting the scarcity of awareness initiatives for the blind, adding how crucial there is role in enlightening those unaware of the challenges faced by the visually impaired.

Providing insight into the mission of Blind SA, Mr. Nair explained the NGO’s commitment to creating employment opportunities within their community, along with educational initiatives and the provision of braille services for blind and visually impaired South Africans.

Mr. Nkwekwezi commended the students for their exciting initiative, noting that VUT actively supports and assists blind students with study materials. He acknowledged the significance of bridging the gap between the sighted and the visually impaired.

Speaking on behalf of the PR group, Mr. Tshepiso Kaibe shared the challenges they encountered during the project. Despite facing obstacles and struggling with donations, the group managed to successfully pull through. He explained that the event was not only about raising awareness but also included a donation of five walking sticks to Blind SA. He candidly mentioned the budget constraints but conveyed the hope that their efforts had brought joy and smiles. “Our wish for VUT to consider adopting Blind SA as one of their supported NGOs”, he concluded.