Helping visually impaired people

The Eastern Cape has always been an area of South Africa particularly affected by poverty and unemployment. It is even harder for people with disabilities to find a job. Many remain uneducated, unemployed and without hope.

GADRA: Helping the visually impaired
The Grahamstown Area Distress Relief Association (GADRA) provides various services to unemployed and poverty-stricken people. GADRA receives no government subsidy and is totally dependent on donations. Among those helped by GADRA are visually impaired people, and Thembisa sends grants to support this aspect of their work.

Visually impaired people can come to GADRA for Braille classes. A GADRA minibus collects the students, who cannot afford the taxi fare. One of their pupils had never attended school as her parents thought she would not be able to read or write so why bother? There are also computer classes (using special ‘speaking’ software) and classes in independent living and helping people make their homes ‘blindsafe’.

A new project is beekeeping; if this proves viable it will help provide dignity and an income for the participants. Partly to counter the ill effects of unemployment, GADRA has also started social activities, including bowls and drumming. For the drumming classes, students from Rhodes University who came along to teach the blind participants how to drum soon realized how much the participants were going to teach them!