MY JOURNEY WITH ACTION FOR THE BLIND AND DISABLED.
Testimonial by Hannelie Minnie
What can be the dream of a young teenage girl who just started high school, and who grew up in a middle class family? To finish high school, get proper employment, drive her own car? To just have the basics, nothing fancy. That was my dream, until my life changed drastically.
At the age of 14, my left eye was removed due to eye cancer, and an artificial eye was made in the place of the eye that was removed. The artificial eye was perfect, and the bonus was that I could still see 95% in the right eye. Meaning that I will still one day drive my own little car. Though that is not where it stopped. Early 2010 I realized that the sight in my right eye is vague, I was diagnosed with a very rare eye condition, suddenly seeing only light and dark. Not having a choice, I dropped out of high school. After an operation done, I was able to see large fond sizes, some color and movement. Life went on and I joined Prinshof School for the blind in Pretoria, while gradually learning braille, I worked with my magnifying glass and big font sized books. Before the end of my grade 10 year exams, I lost that bit of sight in my right eye, seeing very poor. Not knowing braille so well the exams was upon me and I refused to do my grade 10 over the following year. I studied from voice recordings, writing my exams with a teacher reading the questions to me, and me telling them exactly what to write. At the end of 2013 I finished my Matric with really good deserved marks.
My dream to just be a normal girl with employment and driving a little car had to adapt to my new life. Instead of applying for a car loan, I applied for a guide dog, and instead of just getting employment, I chose a career in social work. My guide dog and I, alone in the streets in and around the campus of University of Pretoria was the best feeling of independency anyone could ever give me. Later my first Guide dog Rudy was retrieved, but I was then blessed with Barley who is still happily working and walking with me. I worked so hard, and focused so much on being a social worker, giving therapy, and doing everything in me to help others on an emotional level. Before the end of my second year, after my selection process where I was selected for social work, I realized that it is not working out for me. With all my social work characteristics, I am strong, but if it comes to others, I am not so strong.
Plan B of my career choice had to be implemented, and that is where my journey with Action for Blind and Disabled Children started. My path crossed with Action after I was on the hunt for one full year, looking for any employment or learnership, without any success. After phoning a few times, a gentlemen working for Action, saw the potential in me, as well as my desperation. With him having the desire to build on a disabled person’s career, he put in everything to get me a learnership. In March 2018 I received a life changing phone call from Action.
There was a Contact Center learnership available for me. Barley my guide dog and I packed our bags and went to stay in the house for students across the street from Action. A lot of challenges crossed my path, but with persistency, positivity and hard work, I did it. I completed my contact center learnership, did my practical at Action, and while I saw my future at Action, I was appointed as a contact center facilitator just after Lock down level 3 started.
Walking step by step on my journey with Action, I learned that as a disabled person, one should never give up. While things look dark and cold like in winter, always give your best and work hard, because when it is warm with flowers all around you like in springtime, it will be your time to blossom. Action taught me to look forward towards the future, and not back into the past, because after all my trial and failure, I had my break through! I now feel that I am making a bigger change in other disabled peoples lives through education, than I would have done as a social worker.
Action trains people basic computer skills that is beneficial for those who went to school, but did not really have the opportunity to be computer literate. Then there is the benefit for those who are computer and language littered, that can further build on their career and become a Contact Center Agent. Besides all the other things Action offer like the pottery workshop, it is good to study at Action, because it is not too big, everyone gets to know everyone on a personal level, that makes the educating part dedicated motivated and pleasurable. The food Parcels that are donated to Action helps those students with a high level of poverty at home, to set it aside and focus on their studies. Whenever students come from far, there is no excuse for traveling to be a barrier to their studies, because the student house across the street of Action is open for all with the willingness to study.
Action gave me hope beyond hope, gave me education on a contact center level, taught me life lessons, and totally changed my life by giving me employment. One learnership is the key to one big life changing step in a disabled person’s life, and it can all start by one company sponsoring one person for education, and that is my reason why I feel People and Companies can sponsor Action. As it is said, today’s youth is tomorrow’s future, and you may not have the power to change the world, but you can have the ability to change one person’s life.