A microphone on a stage

“I am able to act because I have accepted myself. LOFOB helped me with that.”


When she was a child, Siphokazi was involved in a car accident which resulted in her loss of sight.

Over the years, her mother started to notice that something was not right with her daughter’s vision. It initially caused some concern, but some of Siphokazi’s vision remained and she continued with her education.

“One day I had a terrible headache. I couldn’t sleep or eat. The next day, everything was black.” It was then that Siphokazi realized she lost the remainder of her vision. “After that, I stopped going out with friends. I was just sitting at home doing nothing.”

The loss of her vision devastated Siphokazi and sent her into an downward emotional spiral. She retreated inward and lost all confidence that she would be able to live the life she wanted.

“I was lost and angry.”

A doctor informed her about LOFOB and the services that they provide. With some encouragement from friends and family, Siphokazi stepped through LOFOB’s doors.

“The first week was hard for me. [Staff] encouraged me to be independent, which I was not used to. My granny did everything for me at home.”

At first, Siphokazi struggled to speak to others and felt uncomfortable and shy in her new surroundings. Slowly, Siphokazi became more comfortable and started to rebuild her confidence.

“The other clients were happy and enjoying their life. Why should I be shy and ashamed of myself? The other clients are encouraging and help me feel free… I see them walking on their own and I also want to do those things on my own.”

Siphokazi has found a new skill that she never thought she would have developed before she lost her vision: acting. She never thought of herself as a performer but she sees herself in a new light. She loves filling a room with laughter through drama.

Shannon Portrait

“For the first time in a while, I am able to read to my children.”


Shannon was visually impaired since birth however, she recently had an accident that caused her to lose her remaining vision.

Shannon worked as a sales consultant at a hardware store where she met her husband. Shannon has been married for five years with two beautiful children aged 2 and 5.

After losing the remainder of her vision, Shannon was unable to work and struggled to care and provide for her family in the way she had before. She lost all confidence as a result.

She was too scared to cook and prepare baths for the children, nervous that she would hurt the children or herself in the process. While she once relied on her limited vision to perform everyday tasks, she now had to rely on her sense of touch. Shannon had to spend several months relearning how to help her husband take care of their home and their children.

Her husband said, “One day she (Shannon) said she wanted to cook for us but she hadn’t cooked for months. I came home from work and she had prepared a whole big meal all by herself and it was delicious!”

“For the first time in a while, I am able to read to my children. My youngest sits with me and puts her hands over the Braille and gets so excited that I have to wait for her to finish before I can start reading to her.”

When Shannon returns home from studying at LOFOB in the afternoon, she plays with her daughter outside, changes their nappies, cooks for them, gives them a bath and puts them to bed.

Shannon is now enrolled in a switchboard operator course to learn new skills for employment. After three months, Shannon has measurable skills in transcription, computer literacy and typing; skills that will be valuable in re-entering the job market.

“I feel like a real mother again. I am confident in caring for my children and I now have marketable skills that will help me find employment.”

Tsheko Portrait

“My view of technology and how to access information changed and that led me on a different journey of my education and my career development.”


“There are many things you can do just as well as a sighted person but you just need to work a little bit harder.”

“I used to mess around on computers… After losing my sight, I thought I would not be able to do it again. But coming here helped me to regain the skill.”

Tsheko lost his vision in 2014 due to a condition that attacks the nerves; in his case the optic nerve. “When my life was just taking shape as an up and coming DJ in Johannesburg… I took a nosedive. One night I went to bed and when I woke up, 50% of my vision was gone.”

After months of back and forth of tests and conversations with specialists, Tsheko was given the final test results that would change everything: He would be blind for the rest of his life.

Tsheko describes the next few months of his life as frustrating and troubled where he shut people out. He sat at home with little to do for nearly six months.

One day, he heard a radio program discussing blindness and decided to call in and ask for recommendations on where to get help. Some listeners called and gave him information about LOFOB. It was then he made the journey from Johannesburg to Cape Town.

“It was a bit of a journey. I didn’t know where I was going, but I wanted to move on and be productive. I chose to pack my bags and take the trip.”

Tsheko thought that he would be unable to use computers again. At LOFOB, Tsheko has been learning how to use the computer through assistive technology, like Job Access With Speech or JAWS.

“The computer is a tool I will need to go into the job market. I am currently using my computer skills in my internship.” Tsheko plans to continue to develop his computer skills to be able to work on coding, websites and apps.

Chumile Portrait

“I always liked to talk a lot. But I wasn’t necessarily confident. I was able to be myself at LOFOB, to do things my own way.”


Chumile was 12 years old when she lost her sight.

“One day in Grade 6, a normal sunny day, I started getting a terrible headache that continued to get worse over the next several days. I was then hospitalised and diagnosed with Miller Fisher syndrome which is a rare nerve disease and caused me to lose my ability to walk, use my hands and see.”

“I had to relearn how to do everything like walking, eating, moving around and getting dressed. After I got out of the hospital, I listened to this Rihanna CD over and over again. It felt comforting and like home,” she said.

Chumile slowly walked around her home trying to find all of the buttons on her CD player that used be so familiar. Now they felt foreign and she struggled to adjust.

Away from her friends and out of her comfort zone, Chumile worked hard to get an education at a school for the blind. She remembers taking her last exams. Chumile worked hard to complete her education at the school for the blind and she remembers the great joy she felt when she passed matric.

However, Chumile quickly became bored with staying at home while her friends went on to further studies and employment. One day as Chumile listened to the radio, one of her favorite things to do, she heard about LOFOB and what they offer. Chumile felt hopeful and ready to start a new adventure. Chumile joined LOFOB’s training programme including computer literacy and home management.

During switchboard training, Chumile started doing a lot of public speaking. “I always liked to talk a lot. But I wasn’t necessarily confident. I was able to be myself at LOFOB, to do things my own way.”

Now she speaks in front of large groups of students and churches, telling her story and helping others to understand what visually impaired people are able to do.

She want to further her education in journalism.

“People are very informed if they listen to the radio. Information is very important for people. If it wasn’t for the radio, I wouldn’t be here at LOFOB and so independent. We can’t all afford the Internet and data… but everyone can afford the radio.”

Sergil Portrait

“When I could see, I was blind to a future… Now I am blind, I can see a bright future ahead of me.”


At 19 years old, Sergil experienced one of the most traumatic events a person can experience: a gunshot wound to the head. Luckily, Sergil survived but the injury left him completely blind.

Sergil had dropped out of school during Grade 9 as a result of his involvement with unsavory friends and groups. He became tangled up in a world that he never planned to be a part of and that was dragging him down. Sergil never had hope of a future that he and his family wanted for himself. He was blinded by the negative influences around him.

“I was never the type that wanted to complete school. I was more of the naughty boy in school; always a clown in class.” Sergil shares stories of teachers and his mother’s frustrations with his behavior and attitude towards school.

His loss of vision pulled him out of the life he was living and gave him different ideas about the future. “I was very angry! Angry about being blind and frustrated that I had wasted all that time going without education.”

Sergil came to LOFOB and completed his independence-, Braille-, computer literacy training. Furthermore, Sergil went on to completing his matric at a mainstream school. Seeing his potential LOFOB offered him employment as switchboard operator/receptionist and later to become the computer literacy instructor for blind and visually impaired clients.

Sergil recalls when he got his first blind friendly cell phone, a Nokia 70. He started noticing some issues with the phone and tried to fix it.

Unable to fix it on his own, he called Vodacom and spoke with a visually impaired customer service representative who verbally walked him through the process of fixing his phone.

Amazed, Sergil’s affinity towards technology and fixing things only grew. He surprised himself when he was able to take things apart and put them back together, not only to understood how the individual components work, but to also troubleshoot problems. At LOFOB, many call him Mr. Fix it.

One day, a LOFOB laptop was not working properly and Sergil sat in the reception area assessing the problem while a visitor waited and looked on. Sergil quickly found the problem – a driver that needed updating – and fixed it no time. The visitor struggled to believe that Sergil was blind and said “This is the work of an IT specialist.”

Sergil has new found interest and hope for a future that excites him.

“When I could see, I was blind to a future… Now I am blind, I can see a bright future ahead of me.”

Khaya Portrait

“I never wanted to be rich. To be rich to me is to be surrounded by people who can build me up and I can do the same for them.”


At LOFOB when you ask people who will succeed in achieving something great, Khaya’s name always comes up. He is a young, bright, energetic young man that beams with promise.

Khaya always struggled to see the board in primary school but his parents and the school thought he just needed spectacles. They learned that he had a cataract and a deformity in his eye. “Little by little I lost my vision.”

Doctors told him that he could not run or participate in one of his favorite activities – football – anymore because the motion could further damage his eyesight. In 2013, his vision deteriorated until he was completely blind.

“I was only comfortable to walk around in my community but now with the help of LOFOB, I am comfortable to go anywhere walking on my own with my long cane or using public transport.”

“Before coming to LOFOB, I knew nothing of assistive technology that helps blind and visually persons with reading and writing.” Khaya was initially not motivated to continue his schooling and to pursue his goals. He finally plucked up the courage to return to school and is enrolled in a ABET programme.

“If don’t put your faith in anything, including yourself… you are eating breathing and sleeping…you are just wasting your being, existence… if you have faith in something even yourself—having hope to be whatever you want to be in life.”

“I never wanted to be rich. To be rich to me is to be surrounded by people who can build me up and I can do the same for them.”

For Khaya and his colleagues, LOFOB is that place. People with visual impairments are able to talk to others in similar situations and to learn how they have adapted to interacting with the world in a new way.

Now, Khaya plans to follow in the footsteps of one of LOFOB’s program managers, Heidi Volkwijn, a blind former client and now manager who is studying law. He hopes to become a lawyer who defends the rights of persons with disabilities like him.

Thandolake Portrait

“I try by all means to be independent. I see the world in a different way. Being at a mainstream school is a challenge that I’m willing to take on. There’s more opportunity.”


Thando’s father is a man of few words. However he always had a lot to say about education. While he himself never had the opportunity to get the education that he wanted, he had high hopes for his son. In 2015, those hopes were seemingly dashed.

During the June examination of Grade 11, Thandolake’s sight failed. Thandolake and his family was traumatised were by this experience as he had no idea what could be the cause. A series of medical tests revealed a diagnosis of glaucoma and there was nothing doctors could do to save his sight.

Thando’s father thought that his son’s education was over, but his teachers and family encouraged him to go to a school for the blind. There was one obstacle though: Thando did not see a future for himself in a special school.

“To them, you have to go to blind school because going to a mainstream school is impossible. There is that separation.”

When Thando came to LOFOB, he met another client that was completing her Grade 12 at a local mainstream school with educational support from LOFOB. Inspired, Thando decided to walk down that same path and asked LOFOB to help him enter a mainstream school.

“I try by all means to be independent. I see the world in a different way. Being at a mainstream school is a challenge that I’m willing to take on. There’s more opportunity.”

Over the last several months, LOFOB has been working with Thando and his school to get assistive devices that will help him to excel in the classroom and his school to find innovative and practical solutions to accommodate him in the classroom.

LOFOB offers an after school programme where tutors assist with transcription of classwork, homework, assignments and tuition of different subjects. LOFOB also offers exam preparation and offers the services of trained scribes and invigilators for examinations.

“Without LOFOB, attending a mainstream school would be just a dream that would never come true. They believed in me and helped me with tutors, scribes, and advocating. It’s been much easier for me to be successful.”

At LOFOB, Thando learned how to use computers, read Braille, use assistive devices, and to confidently move around the city on his own using public transport.

He did not realise that a blind person is capable of training other visually impaired people. During his first few weeks of a computer course, Thando could not believe that his teacher was completely blind.

“I thought he wasn’t blind. I said stop saying that you are blind!…. His skills made me realise that nothing is impossible and gave me hope.”

“I thought nothing was ever going to be good in my life…I viewed my circumstances negatively…LOFOB helped me to find myself again…I realised that there was more to life than just sight.”

Thando has a very hopeful future. He sees himself continuing his studies in hard sciences such as mathematics and computer science engineering.