Connecting the Spirit partners

League of Friends of the Blind (LOFOB) has been running for 91 years, with an Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme that began in the mid 1980’s. LOFOB provides support to blind and visually impaired individuals and their families, and their focus is establishing independence and mobility. For most individuals who make use of the support and resources LOFOB provides, it is a place where they experience immense healing and the development of a new sense of self.

LOFOB’s ECD programme prides itself on not only preparing blind and visually impaired children for school, but for life. The Spirit Foundation connected the Bonnie People (BP) ECD programme on an exchange of information and experiences programme. The BP group met Ms. Cheryl and her class of four-year-olds. Each child experiences visual impairments at varying degrees. Skye, who is completely blind, showed us how she enjoys playing with playdough, and riding her bike. She also told us about her holiday where she went camping with her family and swam in the sea.

Ms. Cheryl shared advice on how to improve parent involvement in our two BP schools and reminded us that parents tend to want to take a backseat when their children start going to school. It is our job to keep parents in the loop and encourage active participation as often as possible. “Keep knocking, keep sowing the seeds”, was her parting message to us.

We met Teresa, a retired ECD teacher who is gradually losing her ability to see. Teresa taught us that teaching is in our blood – once a teacher, always a teacher! She showed us how to read and type in braille. Skills she intends using to ensure she can actively engage with children and continue to teach long after she inevitably loses her sight.

Richie is completely blind, but that won’t stop him from attending the University of the Western Cape to begin his law degree in March. With the help of Tsego, LOFOB’s orientation and mobility facilitator, Richie was learning how to operate his ‘reader’ laptop that he would use to complete and submit his assignments. Richie reminded us that we have a responsibility to encourage children to try new things, and to never limit children because of our own fear of failure. Children are capable of so much with just a little bit of support and enthusiasm.

BP were tasked to constantly evaluate our ECD programmes and to learn to embrace change. It is from this that we will see growth. Thank you LOFOB!