Cape town-160307-MEC of Social development in Western Cape Albert Fritz congratulates Joel Greek student from Athlone School for the blind who won the Lions club international essay, Joel will fly to New York Tomorrow to collect his Prize-Pictuer by BHEKI RADEBE

Michael Nkalane

Joel Greek, a partially blind teenager from Kuils River, has won an international essay writing competition.

Joel, 12, wrote about his role models – Malala Yousafzai, an opponent of efforts to stop girls from going to school in Pakistan, and the late child Aids activist Nkosi Johnson – in his 500-word essay on the theme “Share Peace” in the Lions Club International essay writing competition.

Joel, from the Athlone School for the Blind, said Yousafzai and Nkosi were his role models because they stood up for the rights of children.

He beat children, aged 11 to 13, from other countries. The excited teen flies to New York tonight to accept his prize on Saturday.

He will address a gathering of 500 people, including delegates from the UN, at the 38th annual Lions Day at the UN headquarters.

An aspiring historian, Joel said: “This shows we can excel as well. We are at the same level as other pupils. It is just that we do not have 100 percent eyesight and some of us are completely blind.”

Joel was diagnosed with optic glaucoma at six months old. He was born seeing but his vision deteriorated. He has partial vision in one eye and is blind in the other.

School principal Fletcher Fisher said the win was testimony that blind children were not receiving an inferior education.