Youth get skills for life at centre

2017-12-13 06:00
Some of the tables and chairs designed by members of the Ba’one Intellectual Disability Centre in Kuruman. Wall decor is also among the arts and crafts made by the group.

Some of the tables and chairs designed by members of the Ba’one Intellectual Disability Centre in Kuruman. Wall decor is also among the arts and crafts made by the group.

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“It was heartbreaking for me to see that children who have intellectual disabilities are not catered for after the age of 18 when they exit the educational system.

“At least those with physical disabilities will go to different protective workshops and even get tertiary education, which enables them to participate in economic activities that uplift them and their communities.”

That is the explanation given by retired teachers Cynthia Ntwaeagae and Kebuile Fredman as to why they started the Ba’one Intellectual Disability Centre in Kuruman in 2010.

The pair used their pension money and their special needs education training from their previous jobs to start this non-governmental organisation.

Ntwaeagae was a teacher at the Learamele Special School, which caters for children with disabilities from the ages of seven to 18.

The centre’s main objective is to empower young people with intellectual disabilities with skills in arts and crafts, as well as ensuring that there is productiveness and continuous learning.

After a successful four years of the programme, the center registered as a cooperative in 2014 so that learners can use the skills they learned to earn a living.

Fredman explained that they accept all learners from mainstream schools in the centre.

“Upon their arrival, we do an assessment to determine their intellectual capacity so that we can customise their training programme.

“We have various vocational training choices that are provided in the centre, which are cooking and ba­king, knitting, needlework, woodwork, recycling, welding, beadwork, gardening, leatherwork and arts and crafts,” she says.

The cooperative has made a sterling impact in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in the John Taolo Gae­tswewe District Municipality, which is considered one of the most impoverished municipalities in the Northern Cape.

Being lauded for its formation by women who are true community builders, they benefitted from the National Development Agency (NDA) with a grant of R295 000.

These women believe in the pledge made by the United Nations (UN) that no one should be left behind regardless of their abilities or disabilities.

The UN’s belief is that through the inclusion of persons with disabilities, the world can fast-track the process towards inclusive sustainable development and promote resilient societies for all.

The NDA grant has enabled the cooperative to move from a scrapyard with only 12 learners to a bigger and more conducive space where they can reportedly accommodate 97 learners.

The NDA’s Northern Cape manager, Lesedi Piki, applauded the powerful model and passion put into the running of the centre.

“The model of this centre is a really powerful one, especially considering the passion, enthusiasm and experience of these two amazing women coming together, as well as the quality and uniqueness of the products made by these children.

“Indeed, the approach of this cooperative is a practice to be replicated and emphasised in the country,” Piki said in a statement.

The women have won various awards, such as the Standard Bank Best Performer in 2015, amongst others.

Although the cooperative has achieved many milestones in a space of seven years, they still need assistance.

Call Fredman on 082-345-9565 or send an e-mail to mmolaengisagontle@gmail. com.

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