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Ruth Machobane (1939 - )

The Order of the Baobab in

Ruth Machobane (1939 - ) Awarded for:
Overcoming her sight challenges to record excellent achievements and for motivating and empowering visually impaired people.

Profile of Ruth Machobane

Ruth Machobane started her education at the Athlone School for the Blind in Cape Town, where she obtained a junior certificate. She completed her matric by correspondence at Rapid Results College and obtained a BA degree from Vista University in 1990.

She struggled without Braille material, but her desire to learn led to her completing further diplomas in administration, personnel management and mobility instruction.

She is involved in the New Vision Life Enrichment Programme and runs her own consultancy. She was co-founder and head of the Transvaal Association of Blind Black Adults.

She is deputy chairperson of the National Organisation of the Blind in South Africa and is actively involved in the development of human potential through numerology. She also serves as vice-chairperson of the Sibonile School for the Visually Impaired, the first non-racial school of its kind. Ruth’s daughter, Nthabiseng Hlubi, is a teacher at the school. Machobane’s husband and children are partially sighted.

In 1989, Machobane was involved in setting up a brick-making co-operative run by a group of visually impaired workers in Soweto. The project, situated in the Nomzamo informal settlement in Orlando East, employs 40 brick-makers and helps to support more than450 families. It initially started with 18 people. "When we first started, we were only making about 300 to 500 blocks a day”, she says. "Now we make between 1 000 and 1 500 blocks every day." Through its sales, the project earns about R42 000 a month.

As the second vice-chairperson of the South African National Council for the Blind, she represented South Africa at the World Blind Union congress in Cairo in 1992.

She serves on various United Nations committees and working groups representing the interests of the blind, as well as the Commission on Blindness and Ageing.

Machobane has dedicated her life to supporting and representing the visually impaired. She has helped to compile an education programme for disabled black children.

Ruth Machobane has amply demonstrated that with strong willpower and a passionate commitment to life, nothing is impossible. Despite facing many adversities as a blind person, Machobane has risen to the top and ably represents the interests of the disabled and visually impaired in South Africa.