Learner receives artificial eye

2016-02-17 06:00


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MALEFU THEBEKHALI is the happiest girl alive.

This 14-year-old learner at the Man­tshebo Primary School in Thabong, Welkom, recently received a new lease on life when ABI Bottling’s managing director, Velaphi Ratshefola, funded the manufacturing and fitting of her artificial eye – also known as a scleral shell ocular prosthesis.

Malefu’s chance encounter with the ABI boss took place late last year in Kutlawanong at the Bizniz In A Box-youth entrepreneurship programme launch.

Ratshefola was in attendance to open the first of the 66 spaza shops as part of a youth empowerment programme initiated by ABI Bottling and the Free State government, and where participating youth were allocated spaza shops to set them up for entrepreneurship.

The reason for Malefu’s attendance at this launch was her teacher, Joyce Mokalodise, who heard that officials from the Free State government would be in attendance and she wanted to meet them and share the plight of this young learner – who was struggling at school due to low self-esteem and lack of confidence.

They had been to various institutions, but could not get any help.

It was here that Malefu’s tragic story of being injured with a pair of scissors and losing her eye was shared by Free State MEC for Social Development, honourable Sisi Ntombela, during her speech.

After highlighting the plight of the family and living conditions of the learner, community members who were attending the event started making donations and Ratshefola pledged to fund the much-needed operation for Malefu, as well as her uniform required for the 2016 school year.

Ratshefola, who comes from humble beginnings, knows first-hand the situation that is faced by those who are less fortunate and as such was more than happy to extend a helping hand to ensure a brighter future for Malefu.

“Schooling is a critical foundation for our future generation. I was really moved by this child’s challenges that affected her confidence and performance at school. I could not just look the other way, especially when I myself come from hard times,” says Ratshefola.

Malefu is the seventh child in a family of four sisters and two brothers – two of the siblings are deceased.

She now lives with her widowed mother who relies on a social grant to make ends meet.

Malefu also received the school uniform, to give her a good start to her academic year.

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