Visually-impaired woman, 51, passes matric

2017-08-25 10:01
A picture of Sadia Daniels at a machine which helps magnify text. (Supplied)

A picture of Sadia Daniels at a machine which helps magnify text. (Supplied)

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Cape Town – Mitchells Plain housewife Sadia Daniels definitely lives up to the "superwoman" nickname her husband Reza gave her.

After living with visual impairment for around 30 years, she was inspired to get her matric certificate by her son tackling university and her daughter finishing school.

"I told myself it is time for me. I want to do this for myself," she told News24 on Thursday.

She signed up for six subjects this year and wrote the exams four months later.

On Friday, she received the good news: she had passed all her subjects and obtained a score high enough to qualify for entrance to university.

"My daughter checked the results online. I got 76 for Afrikaans, 75 for Maths and 65 for English. I told her I thought I was going to have 80 for English!

"She said I am ungrateful, but if you study hard, you want to see the results. Then I thought - I have to be grateful."

The achievement was no mean feat for the 51-year-old.

She passed without being enrolled in a school, wrote her exams while fasting and used tutors and YouTube videos to study.

"I am so blessed that I am able to help other people, to tell them it is possible to do this," she gushed.

A well-oiled machine

As a schoolgirl, Daniels struggled to see the blackboard, but there was not much help for pupils with learning difficulties in those days. After school, she worked as a merchandise clerk and telex operator for six years.

Her vision deteriorated to the extent that she had to give her job up and stay at home.

She was subsequently diagnosed with Stargardt disease, an inherited eye condition that affects a small part of the retina and causes progressive vision loss.

This did not hold her back from studying and running her home like a well-oiled machine.

"I cook, I clean, I do everything myself. Because I have been like this now for so many years, I don’t know any other life," she said.

"My husband will tell you he calls me superwoman because there are women who have normal sight and don’t do half the things I do."

Everybody told her it was impossible that the education department had allowed her to register for all six subjects in one go.

Ignoring their words, she attended a school that claimed to cater for people with visual impairment. She left when she found out teachers were still writing on the blackboard. She simply could not see anything.

Then, Heidi Volkwijn, of the League of Friends of the Blind (LOFOB), helped Daniels with support services for mainstream education. 

The services for adults include a free after-school programme with tutors in various subjects, low vision aids, and scribes for when people need to write their exams. A similar programme extends support to those still in school.

'I was pushing myself'

"I recorded every session with my tutor on my phone so I could listen [to it]. I also studied by listening to Youtube videos," she explained.

"I was pushing myself so hard that my children told me: 'mommy you are pushing too hard'. I thought that I don't [just] want to pass, I want to pass well."

She thanked everyone who supported her, including her retired scribe who sat with her in class and recorded her answers on the exam papers.

"Maths was a bit hectic," Daniels said with a laugh. "My scribe should be applauded for all her hard work."

Her next step would be to motivate young people. Someone had already asked her give a motivational speech at a matric dance in Mitchells Plain, an opportunity she jumped at.

If she did further her studies, she would not choose something that would take years to complete.

"Imagine how old I will be then!"

Read more on:    cape town  |  education  |  good news

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