Since 2011, the Lafarge Community Trust has supported the Annual International White Cane Campaign to help aid awareness about visual impairment. The Trust is a staunch supporter of Eye Care Month held annually during October and is aimed at creating national awareness around the importance of eye health. To date the Trust has also donated 500 canes to individuals, schools and visually impaired self-help groups to improve mobility.
The annual Lafarge South Africa White Cane Fun Walk which took place on the 15th of October, exposed blindfolded participants to the difficulties of visual impairment and worse - blindness. The staff completed a 1km walk around the company's headquarters to pay tribute to the blind and partially sighted.
This year children (age 6-12) of Lafarge employees were invited to share their understanding of visual impairment through a competition where children drew a picture that depicted their understanding of visual impairment, while learners (age 13-19) shared a poem. Winners received their prizes on the day of the fun walk.
Being visually impaired brings a lot of challenges, especially to learners. Blind and partially-sighted students have to work harder than their able-bodied counterparts to achieve good results. The Lafarge Community Trust in partnership with the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB) supported the first ever Matric Winter School for the visually impaired and have helped to improve matric results and positive competition between learners.
Through this worthy initiative members of the Trust were exposed to the plight of visually impaired learners and found ways to support them. "The challenges that the Trust uncovered were that visually impaired learners face limited opportunities and poor career prospects, a lack of learner material and a shortage of Braille literate educators. This results in more problems such as delays in converting exam question papers into Braille and the difficulty of marking papers for visually impaired matriculates," explained Mpogeng Nkgadima, Programme Manager at Lafarge Trusts.
"The value of the Lafarge programmes was realised by one staff member when her mother lost her sight due to Sugar Diabetes. The staff member was well equipped to deal with the situation through the exposure that she received through the Lafarge Trust's campaigns. She was able to establish support networks and she currently volunteers at a centre for the visually impaired," said Nkgadima.
In addition the SANCB partners with the Lafarge Community Trust to conduct eye screening for over 800 learners in Bodibe Schools, Mokokana and Makgwe Primary schools. This is just one example of the Trust's support of the whole school development project which Lafarge Education Trust started in 2008 and continues to implement.
"These experiences, observations and presentations have led to individuals within Lafarge South Africa changing the way they view visually impaired people and to garner a much better understanding of this disability while also gaining valuable insight on how to deal with visual impairment," concluded Nkgadima.
NOTES TO EDITORS
A world leader in building materials, Lafarge employs 64,000 people in 62 countries, and posted sales of €15.2 billion in 2013. As a top-ranking player in its Cement, Aggregates and Concrete businesses, it contributes to the construction of cities around the world, through its innovative solutions providing them with more housing and making them more compact, more durable, more beautiful, and better connected. With the world's leading building materials research facility, Lafarge places innovation at the heart of its priorities in order to contribute to more sustainable construction and to better serve architectural creativity.
In South Africa, the company manufactures and supplies cement, aggregates, readymixed concrete, gypsum plasterboard and interior building fittings. It focuses on providing solutions to help the sustainable development of better cities that benefit the country's people. Through having a strong presence in all of its business lines, it is in a unique position to contribute to urban construction, while also helping to build better cities, rural towns and villages.
Lafarge South Africa also demonstrates active concern for the conservation of the country's wildlife heritage and is a major supporter of the world's first dedicated baby rhino orphanage in Limpopo Province.
Additional information is available on the website at www.lafarge.co.za
For further information, please contact:
011 657 0000
Glasshouse Communication Management
Bridget von Holdt
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