Ntombifuthi’s Journey

Not just an ordinary South African township address. This here is where Retofohile meets – a self-help group of blind people. The house at 6541 Motloung belongs to Ivy. She has given them a space in her humble home to meet. Ivy herself walks using a crutch.

We are inside now and here are some of the group. Their Braille teacher, Sibosiso, is here too. Blind himself, he has travelled all the way from Soweto to Katlehong, with his white cane and on his own, to come and teach them. Here too is Thabelo, our mobility trainer. She is here to take Ntombifuti, a member of the group, on her new journey to freedom. Ian, our Managing Trustee who is also blind, is here to say hello to everyone and to walk down some of that road to freedom with Ntombifuthi. Let the journey begin.

Two months it has taken Ntombifuthi to do this – walk confidently and safely with her white cane. Today, she will overcome the final challenge in her quest to get herself home from 6541 Motloung and back again. That final challenge is to catch a taxi and to do this in both directions. Thabelo Muofhe is here to teach her how. There she is, watching at a distance.

First success on the journey! Ntombifuthi is at the main road, gives the hand signal, a taxi pulls up. Viva!

Getting in and ready to go. And as the door slides shut, she tells the driver precisely where to drop her off. She already knows how to get from there to her home.

Second success of the journey! It worked! And here she is, by her gate. Her home is at the back of the house.

Lebo, Ntombifuthi’s daughter, has been waiting anxiously with her cousin to see if her mother would make it home with the taxi and without her help. And now, here Lebo is, full of smiles and overflowing with pride for that mother of hers.

Now, the journey back. We have headed for the main road again – Ntombifuthi knew exactly how to get herself there and where to wait for the taxi. And here it is!
See how she uses her white cane to find the taxi door. Success number three!

And did Nthombifuthi get off the taxi at the right place coming back?

Ask the fruit seller. She will tell you. Because he watched her passing earlier on and now he sees her coming back. Yes! Another success for Nthombifuthi today!

The journey is done! Ntombifuthi is more than delighted: she is thrilled. And so is Thabelo. “Before, I was scared people will laugh at me,” she says. “Now, I am proud.”