GAUTENG DIS­AP­POINTS

Blind duo among the top achiev­ers feted at break­fast

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - @Lanc_02 ILANIT CHERNICK ilanit.chernick@inl.co.za

IT’S BEEN a dif­fi­cult school jour­ney for dis­abled stu­dents Epho­dia Mu­dau and Hlu­lani Malun­gani from the Rivoni School for the Blind in Lim­popo.

These two stu­dents are among the top achiev­ers in spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion and were hon­oured yes­ter­day at a break­fast with Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Angie Mot­shekga at Vo­da­world in Midrand.

Epho­dia is par­tially blind, while Hlu­lani started go­ing blind in 2008 and by 2014 was to­tally blind. Born in Phiphidi, a ru­ral Lim­popo vil­lage, Epho­dia de­scribed life as hard. “My fa­ther died in 2009, he got sick and my mom didn’t have a job so we were very poor. “School and study­ing was not al­ways easy be­cause my eyes get sore. Some­times if they were too painful some­one had to read for me,” Epho­dia said.

In Au­gust, prior to start­ing fi­nal ex­ams, tragedy struck the Mu­dau fam­ily once more. “My brother was killed in an ac­ci­dent. He was a taxi driver in Joburg. Af­ter he died, my mom and my teacher en­cour­aged me to keep go­ing and now I am here,” she said. In the fu­ture, Epho­dia hopes to buy her mom a com­fort­able house in ap­pre­ci­a­tion for ev­ery­thing she has done for her.

Her favourite sub­ject was busi­ness stud­ies and she plans to study Me­dia at the Univer­sity of Lim­popo.

Bul­lied through­out his school days, Hlu­lani, who is from a ru­ral vil­lage in Giyani, Lim­popo, said he re­alised some­thing was wrong in 2008 when his eyesight started fad­ing. “I was in a nor­mal school for pri­mary and part of high school. It was re­ally hard grow­ing up be­cause the other kids would make fun of me and laugh at me,” he re­called.

He moved to Rivoni in 2012 and af­ter hav­ing an op­er­a­tion on his eyes at the end of 2013, things wors­ened. “I bumped into a wall at the be­gin­ning of 2014 by ac­ci­dent and that’s when I went blind.

“I started learn­ing braille and within two weeks I was able to read it,” he said.

Hlu­lani is an avid mu­sic lover who sings well and hopes to take it fur­ther. He en­joys read­ing and writ­ing sto­ries and poems.

This smart young man will be study­ing psy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Venda.

Be­ing hon­oured at the break­fast with the min­is­ter was ex­cit­ing for both stu­dents.

“I feel great and I’m so thank­ful to my teach­ers and my mom for ev­ery­thing,” Epho­dia said.

For Hlu­lani, his be­ing hon­oured at the break­fast is his best way to re­pay those who mocked him. “To­day they will watch me on TV. I’m very proud and grate­ful for my fam­ily and teach­ers,” he said.

“To learn­ers who are still study­ing, work hard and do the things that will help you to ex­cel; don’t spend your time use­lessly,” Hlu­lani added.

PIC­TURE: NOKUTHULA MBATHA

PHOTO OP: Min­is­ter of Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Angie Mot­shekga with Deputy Min­is­ter En­ver Surty pose as they cel­e­brate with the 2016 top ma­tric achiev­ers.

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