Association for blind turns 80

The Lighthouse Association for the Blind, based in Goodwood, will celebrate its 80th anniversary next month.

Honorary president Clive Payne, from Gardens, said the association was established in 1937 in a bid to eliminate the loneliness that many blind people contend with.

Ivan Rainier, manager of the association in Edgemead, said it was started by Marjorie Watson as a result of her insight into the social needs of visually impaired people.

“We tend to the social needs of blind and partially-sighted people in the greater Cape Town area through club meetings and outings with a particular emphasis on eliminating their loneliness and helping them with their special requirements,” he said.

Mr Payne said they have over 50 members from the northern and southern suburbs and the CBD.

“A lot of blind people tend to sit at home and we host social gatherings to give them an opportunity to socialise with like-minded people,” he said.

Members pay a nominal annual fee and the association caters for anyone with a recognised sight problem. Mr Payne said the club meets on the first and third Thursday of every month at the Pinelands Town Hall.

He said chess is popular among their members with many of them thrashing sighted people. They also enjoy bowls and next month three of them will compete in the National Bowls Championship in Johannesburg.

Mr Payne said while working at the SABC in Johannesburg, he tuned into a radio station and heard a blind man call in to a show asking why there were no programmes on radio for blind people.

“My life would have been completely different if I had not heard that man on the radio. The next day, I went to my boss and asked if I could start a radio programme aimed at the blind,” he said.

The association was initially a social club but that changed when they started doing outreach work in Cape Town’s townships. Mr Payne said accessing housing and work opportunities are a few of the challenges they face.

“However, three of our members are employed at the South African Revenue Services (SARS) as switchboard operators. One is a piano tuner and some of our members work in the IT industry; at the bank and many of them go on to become physiotherapists.”

Mr Rainier said the organisation relies on funding from the Lotteries Board and individual donors.

“It costs R35 000 a month to run the association and we are appealing to people to donate to our worthy cause even if they can only give R50 a month,” he said.

To donate, call 021 591 1544 or email lightforblind@sadomain.co.za

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