The first Thusong Service Centre to teach Braille literacy in South Africa is in North West Province
- By Ephraim Mbara
Bokamoso Thusong Service Centre in Jericho, North West Province is proud to be the first Thusong Service Centre in South Africa to go down the history books for teaching blind people Braille.
Like in the biblical story of two blind men who were sitting by the roadside of Jericho, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord. Son of David, have mercy on us!” And Jesus Christ helped them to recover their eye sights.
When Bokamoso Thusong Service Centre was officially launched by the former Premier of North West Province Ms Edna Molewa in 2008, the blind people of the rural area of Jericho and the surrounding villages saw an opportunity to advance their knowledge and learning progress in Braille literacy.
They did not allow their disability to be an obstacle towards success. They organised themselves and started a learning centre for blind people at Bokamaoso Thusong Service Centre. This happened after GCIS has organised a Local Intersectoral Steering Committee (LISSC) meeting with all stakeholders, including disabled people to discuss about opportunities at the centre.
The Jericho organisation for the disabled made an application for a literacy programme for the blind through the council for the blind. The Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign for the blind was launched in June 2008 at the centre.
The visually impaired people from Jericho and surrounding areas which get services at the centre learn Braille at their door steps. The South African Council for the blind supplied them with equipments such as perkins for Braille which they use to write Braille.
Mr Sannyboy Mogapi, a Braille teacher at Bokamoso Thusong Service Centre, said he is happy about the response of blind people towards the Braille literacy programme. “Since we started this literacy programme for the blind last year, visually impaired people are responding. They are not many, but we are happy with the progress and we appeal to families who have blind people to bring them to learn about Braille,” he said.
Mogapi holds a Diploma in Braille from Thembelihle Training College for the blind at King Williams town in the Eastern Cape Province.
He is assisted by Jimmy Baloyi who is the deputy chairperson for the blind in North West Province.
Classes are attended on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday every week.
People who live within the Madibeng Local Municipality and have visually impaired people who want to learn Braille can contact Mr Jimmy Baloyi at 072 644 6157 or Mr Sannyboy Mogapi at 076 526 7990 or they can even visit Bokamoso Thusong Service Centre in Jericho in Madibeng Local Municipality during working hours.