The Institute for the Blind is asking the public’s help to enable it to continue its valuable work.
This follows the Department of Labour’s decision not to subsidise the institution any longer. Although the institute only received 15% of its funding from the state, Lotto and other contributions have also been drying up.
Freddie Botha, Executive Head of the Institute for the Blind says the lack of funding could result in the 530 blind and disabled people housed at the Institute’s facilities literally living on the streets. According to Botha their annual running costs amount to R51-million. The Institute also subsidizes the Pioneer School for the Blind with R4.2-million per year.
Botha’s concerns are echoed by Hein Wagner, the institute’s brand new brand ambassador, global adventurer and motivational speaker. “Support from the State for this very specialised education has been totally insufficient”, says Wagner, who attended the Pioneer School for the Blind from the age of five.
Wagner, who won the SA Championships Blind Tandem Road Race with team mate Alwyn de Kock earlier this month, says there are many remarkable individuals who have been schooled and housed at the institute over the years and who are living proof that despite challenges, with the right help anything is possible. “However, the bottom line is that there is no hope without help,” he adds.
Wagner (picture) made history last year as the first blind person to participate in the treacherous Antarctica marathon.