Woman learns to read and write then goes blind Defies odds to fulfill dream

Her parents did not see any value in education but in farming and doing household chores so Obene Mmelesane grew up not knowing how read or write.

Driven by desire to learn despite her age, the now 50 -year -old woman from Ramotswa enrolled with the Department of Out of School Education and Training (DOSET) in 2000 when she was 35.

As if bad luck was stalking her, a few months later after acquiring ‘the precious skills’ she got sick, and as if that was not enough she later turned blind.

But instead of accepting her misfortune and resigning to the fact that she was just unlucky in life, Mmelesane sought help and two years later her sight was resorted.

Today Mmelesane has her own business and although the going gets tough at times, she finds solace in the fact that she is living her dream.

“I always had a dream of owning my own business, but I had no confidence because I was not able to read and write. When I heard about adult education offered through DOSET in 2000, I jumped at the opportunity,” she said.

After learning how to read and write, she then started her business of making vases and other decorating pieces using old newspapers, water paint, oil paint, stones and glue.

“As if a bad spell was cast on me, I turned blind just when my business was flourishing. I was making enough money and suddenly life turned upside down as I could not see. I couldn’t understand what was going on, it was like I was being punished for learning how to read and write and for trying to leave my dream.”

However the fighter in her refused to accept that was the end of her dreams and she continued with her business though with extreme difficulties.

On the other hand she was also seeking helping to restore her sight and it was eventually restored two years later.

“I am not the one to easily give up and this is what has kept me going over the years. I still run my business and earning an honest living out of it. I also believe in making use of my hands as that is how we were brought up. In fact I made my own jersey when I was 12 so you can see that using my hands is part of my childhood,” she said.

Mmelesane said the biggest challenge in her business was getting together her inputs and the pricey special type of glue that she uses.

“I stick small stones on the finished products, it consumes time and the glue is expensive,” she said.

Questioned about women’s grant offered by Women’s Affairs Department, Mmelesane said she is yet to understand the scheme and will make an effort to seek financial boost to expand her business.

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