85 years of service for Lofob

The League of Friends of the Blind (Lofob) is proudly celebrating 85 years of service to blind and visually impaired people in South Africa.

A thanksgiving service will be held at the Grassy Park Methodist Church on Sunday 4 February at 09:00 to mark this milestone.

The organisation was founded by Isaac Jacobs on 2 February 1933. Jacobs was became blind at the age of 17 and was unable to gain a formal education as he was denied access to the only existing school for the blind because of his colour. Realising his plight and the challenges faced by other black and coloured blind people, he worked tirelessly to ensure that disadvantaged blind people had access to support and basic services.

Lofob prides itself on the many achievements over the years, with one of the highlights being the development of a countrywide Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme. Lofob’s ECD programme was established 30 years ago and is one of only three in South Africa specialising in visually impaired children. The organisation is still called upon today for its expertise in blindness and early childhood development.

At the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB), Lofob was at the forefront of the struggle to eradicate racism and correct the segregated structure long before apartheid was abolished. Lofob was instrumental in establishing a local blind women’s forum to ensure that blind women had a voice in this sector. This later led to the establishment of South African Blind Women in Action. Lofob also co-hosted the successful World Blind Union Assembly in Cape Town in 2004, which was the first of its kind. At the 2008 assembly in Geneva, the organisation was invited to the world stage to present a paper on best practice principles for sustaining a world-class organisation in developing countries.

Under the new leadership of Armand Bam as executive director, the organisation has received the status of a training institution and is now registered with the Education Training and Development Practices Seta.

Lofob strives to empower, educate and employ visually impaired people through innovative strategies. This is evident when one sees the role the team has played in the development of successful blind individuals who find themselves excelling in various governmental institutions and national and international platforms.

“Lofob not only celebrates 85 years of service, it also celebrates overcoming the hardships of an apartheid era, surviving a world war, soaring through turbulent economic climates and above all the achievement of growing from an organisation which once offered charity to one that specialises in the development of human potential through world-class independence development services,” says Bam.

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