Durban - Siyabonga Vilakazi, 37, plays cricket, loves cooking and going out dancing with friends.
But when he went blind after a car accident 11 years ago, he felt as though his world had crashed around him
“I love being sociable and being out with friends. So when I lost my sight, I cried almost every day; it was not a beautiful sight,” he said.
Vilakazi, from KwaMashu, was speaking at the launch of KZN Blind & Deaf Society’s inaugural “Eye Can Walk” fundraiser, a fun 5km walk to be held on Sunday, October 15. Participants will wear blindfolds on the walk to experience life without vision.
At the launch, Vilakazi said he lived in virtual isolation for three years after his accident.
“At the beginning it was pretty hard just to go out and meet people. At the same time I dreaded being cooped up in the house. I was also worried about my education.” After a friend suggested he approach a blind and deaf organisation for help, Vilakazi met the practitioners at KZN Blind and Deaf Society .
“I may have lost my sight, but I had not lost my personality. I met other people like me and I learned daily living skills as well as computer and telephone skills. I also had to learn Braille and how to move around with a white cane.
“The team played such a huge role in mentoring me and giving me independence. When that white cane was put in my hand, it changed my life. I can even cross the busiest streets in Durban. With this white cane I can go the extra mile,” he said.
Vilakazi plays cricket for the KZN Blind & Deaf team where, although he is an all-rounder, he prefers to take on bowling duty.
“I like walking and doing home gym. I also like to keep fit and stay on a pretty organic diet. I really love cooking and have just gone semi-vegetarian. I make a good veggie stew, as well as a roast chicken with lemon and herb,” said Vilakazi.
President of the KZN Blind & Deaf Society and former Concourt Justice Zak Yacoob said the white cane and teaching blind people about the world around them was crucial for a non-sighted person to cope with everyday life.
“It’s very important to know your own surroundings and understand the relationship between yourself, people and things around you. You cannot live in isolation and orientation helps you cope in society,” said Yacoob at the launch.
The director of the KZN Blind & Deaf Society, Shamila Surjoo, called on companies, schools and the public to join in their inaugural Fun Walk.
The cost is R50 and entries can be done online at www.eventtiming.info/eyecanwalk or for more information contact KZN Blind & deaf Society on 031 309 4991.
The Independent on Saturday