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.