October 26, 2012, Pretoria, South Africa
I am Felicity.
I was born with a degenerative eye condition. I am 12 Years old. When I was younger I could see a little bit, but not anymore. I use my walking stick to move around. It helps me a lot. I really enjoy music and love to dance. I go for dancing lessons with other girls who also have visual impairments. We like it if the music has a fast beat! People think because I cannot see that I am probably dumb as well but there is nothing wrong with my brain. If they talk to me, they talk really loud, because they think I cannot hear well and cannot understand anything. My friend Suzanne and I just giggle about it because they do not know how to handle my disability. I know what I am capable of, I make the best of everything, and I enjoy it all!
Do you think I will get married? Do you think I will get a job?”
Ben talks about people joking about his twin brother, Alex, who has spina bifida. Debbie is a hearing impaired girl. She explains she likes listening to music (she can feel the beat). As for Richard, he battles to use his wheelchair on the grassy areas, but can go really really fast in the yard…
Felicity, Ben, Debbie and Richard are puppets.
Lein Smuts is introducing the puppets to three social workers: Priscilla, Maria and Boitumelo.
The idea is to have social workers organize sessions in schools to sensitize children to the difficulties faced by people with disabilities. These colorful puppets are attractive, the words are simple, and stories percussive. No doubt this valuable material will be a great help for kids to engage, discuss and understand what disabilities are about.
Lein works for Employment Solutions (ES) for People with Disabilities, bringing her creativity and her energy. ES developed into a protective workshop offering skills training and creating jobs for people with all the disabilities you can think of, across all demographics. Lein is a talented artist: she paints and sculpts. She initially came to give a pottery training, and then she decided to stay! Lein works not only on the awareness amongst non-disabled people, but is also responsible for the craft unit. In 2010, she launched Zoetlief Lein, a beautiful lifestyle label (go and have a look at the shop in Duncan Yard!).
I am Nathalie. I am part of the SAP social sabbatical program, working for Employment Solutions for a 4-week period. Every day, I meet people who have poignant stories to tell, who are happy to have a job, who greet you with enthusiasm. This place is a real eye-opener for me, it truly reshapes my view of the world and is a great source of inspiration!