Walk down any dirt or sandy road and you’ll see tracks. Tracks from cars and bicycles, cows and goats, adults and children. Most of these tracks, whether from a vehicle, animal or person, are so familiar to us we hardly pay them any attention. But when we learn to look carefully, we will see each track tells a story.
The tracks in this photo were not tracks I’d seen before: Yes, there are car tracks, footprints, and the marks of soft-soled shoes. But look closely, there is another track: A thin line scratched into the dirt – left to right, right to left, again and again. What made this track and what story is it telling us?
I looked a little further down the road towards the spaza shop, and there I saw Ntombi walking by herself. The mystery is solved! Those are the tracks of independence, the tracks of newfound confidence. The story these tracks tell is of turning obstacles into possibilities. You see Ntombi is blind and being out walking by herself is a huge achievement and a testament to her courage and perseverance. That thin line scratched into the sand is the mark Ntombi’s white cane makes as she walks carefully but confidently to where she wants to go.
Learning to walk with a cane takes time. It can be scary and is always hard work. But with this new skill, Ntombi can now visit her family and friends, walk to church, and go to the shops without relying on anyone but herself. “You must just focus,” she says.