Dorothy Duncan Braille Library & Rehabilitation Centre
The Dorothy Duncan Braille Library and Rehabilitation Centre, has for the past 25 years, been at the forefront in Zimbabwe in the provision of services to the sight impaired in this country. These services include the rehabilitation of those who have lost their sight in later life enabling them to return to gainful employment, the production of literature on tape, on CD, and in large print and of course in Braille.
Braille books include those necessary for the core subjects for primary and secondary education of children and for their tertiary education as required by individual students, as well as leisure reading material for all ages and leaflets and other important information for the blind. The latter has included information on HIV and Aids, and the country’s Constitution.
The only difference between you and a blind person is that when you open your eyes you will be able to see again. It is difficult to imagine how you would feel if suddenly your world changed from a sighted world to the utter blackness of no vision at all. For the person concerned this is devastation which very easily leads to depression, and for family and friends it is an enormous challenge to deal with the new situation. No matter who you are, you are alone in a world of darkness. The once familiar surroundings take on a new and sometimes very frightening dimension.
The causes of blindness are legion – they vary from accidents, illness, and generic causes to criminal encounters or sheer stupidity. At the end of the day the result is the same, and you have joined the Blind Community of your country and of the world.
For many years the Dorothy Duncan Centre, has been helping to rehabilitate blind adults, and over the past ten years has developed a system of inviting up to eight individuals at a time to spend three months under intensive training thus enabling them a chance to re-establish themselves and continue their lives in the world they used to know, but one which has changed so suddenly to a place of fear and frustration.
The Dorothy Duncan Braille Library and Rehabilitation Centre receives applications from blind people across Zimbabwe, from the cities to the villages to the tiny households hidden in the distant countryside. Each one brings a different story and each one needs much personalised help and training to rebuild their lives. Individuals are taught in classes but each receive individual coaching and counseling for the duration of their rehabilitation.
In 1990 Sr Catherine Jackson (OP) travelled from Zimbabwe to Australia on a Rotary Scholarship to study the rehabilitation of the blind. After a two year study course, and a generous donation from Rotary in Australia, Sr Catherine, herself partially blind, returned to Zimbabwe and with the help of the Dominican Convent School, started a small braille production facility, working from one small room. As chance would have it, following an appeal from Sr Catherine for further support and funding, she was approached by Mr Mike Frudd a Chartered Accountant and at that time treasurer for the Dorothy Duncan Centre for the Blind, with the suggestion that Sr Catherine and her production facility should combine with the Dorothy Duncan Centre and in due course the Dorothy Duncan Braille Library and Rehabilitation Centre (DDBL) was established.
Thanks to generous donations raised both locally and from overseas, the DDBL was able to purchase and refurbish a small block of flats to house the Braille Library and Rehabilitation Teaching Unit. Sadly, due to financial constraints, the Dorothy Duncan Centre for the Blind, a home for the elderly and disabled, was forced to close. All the inmates at that time were successfully re-homed with other similar facilities.
Sr Catherine (OP)
The scene opens on the main street of one of the large industrial cities of England during the Second World War. A contingent of American GIs are in a convoy driving VERY slowly since they are being led by a small girl on a tricycle. The gates and fences had been removed from all the houses for the ‘War Effort’ and the child, Judith Mary Jackson had taken the opportunity of exercising her independence, a characteristic which would show itself repeatedly in later life.
Judith’s father, a civil engineer, spent the war years repairing bridges and roads destroyed in the bombing of England. He suffered serious lumbago and the doctors told him he needed to move to a warmer climate. At that time emigration to Southern Rhodesia was being encouraged by the British Government. Her father therefore gave up his partnership in a foundry run together with his older brother, and Judith’s mother packed up a complete household and seven children the youngest being 6 months old, and they set off for the Adventure of a Lifetime with misgivings and hopes and fears.
The scene changes to a small ship making its way from Southampton, to Belgium and thence round the coast via the Canary Islands to dock at Lobito Bay. By means of the Great Benguela Railway, an engineering feat that was disappointingly short lived, the Jackson family cross Angola, the Belgium Congo, Northern Rhodesia and make their new home in Southern Rhodesia.
The uncountable numbers of handicapped people at the railway stations of the Congo left an indelible mark on Judith’s mind, and maybe this was the tiny spark waiting to be ignited at the right time in the years to come.
Again the scene changes, the years have flown by, and Judith, now a young adult, and a qualified teacher emerges from the chrysalis of the Rhodesian education system. Judith had always had a close association with the Dominican Sisters, and they were the leading educators and health workers in this country since 1891. She knew she had a talent for teaching and had inherited her mother’s gift of organisation. Her first choice would have been to be a farmer, but teaching came a very close second and that was to be her destiny. She joined the Dominican Order and began, albeit without knowing it, the long preparation for what was to become the main reason for her life. In future she was to be known as Sister Catherine Jackson.
In the fullness of time, having Headed three Dominican Convent schools, both in Zambia and Zimbabwe, Sister Catherine, handed over the leadership to others, and devoted her time and energy to making A Level Mathematics and Geography an integral and treasured part of the lives of hundreds of students.
But the dream continues and the spark lit so long ago in the Congo, bursts into flame. Now losing her own sight, Sister Catherine notices and has compassion on the many blind beggars of Harare. By means of a Rotary Scholarship she sets out on yet another dramatic period of her life and a further step to the final goal. A year’s training in Australia on teaching the blind and the cementing of many very generous friendships in and out of Rotary led to the Dorothy Duncan Braille Library and Rehabilitation Centre which was born almost by accident, but now, over twenty-five years later, flourishes to benefit so many in Zimbabwe.
A Trust is responsible for the financial running of the organisation and an Executive Committee, drawn from a cross section of professions meets regularly to guide and support the workings of the Center.
The DDBL is run by an Office Administrator in charge of day to day, and future demands, and a Technical Administrator in charge of technical requirements.
Mr. Mike Frudd is a Chartered Accountant (Zimbabwe and South Africa) and is a past president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe.
He is a retired senior partner of PwC ( PricewaterhouseCoopers) in Central Africa. He is currently on the boards of a number of Zimbabwe Companies and since his retirement from PwC he operates as a business and financial consultant.
Mike has been involved with the Dorothy Duncan Centre since 1976 when he joined the committee as treasurer. He has therefore been intimately involved with the Braiile Library since its formation having been instrumental in Sr Catherine joining the Centre when she was operating a braille production facility from a room at the Dominican Convent. He is currently a Trustee and the Chairman of the Centre.
Mr. Frudd has been a member of the Rotary movement since 1976 and is a past president. Through Rotary he has been actively involved in many different charitable activities over the years. He is a Trustee and Treasurer of the Combined Services Organization Trust which operates the Athol Evans Complex for the elderly. He is also on the board of Pleasantways, another Senior Citizens’ Home in Mount Pleasant. He is Chairman of Trustees of OPHID Trust, the Organisation for Public Health Interventions and Development, and he advises several other voluntary organisations. He is a committee member and financial advisor to the Association which runs the township at Mazwikadei near Banket.
Mike is married to Norma and they have two adult daughters. They are both committed Christians and members of the Bible Baptist Church in Chisipite.
Mr. Tim Tanser is a Legal Practitioner and Notary Public.
Tim spent forty-one years in the legal firm of Scanlen & Holderness (S & H), the last five years of which he was Senior Partner and Chairman. Following his retirement from S & H, Tim set up his own legal consultancy specialising in property and commercial matters, conveyancing, Estate planning and associated aspects such as Wills, Trusts and Estate Administration.
Tim has been actively involved with the History Society of Zimbabwe and has held many positions within the Society including, for ten years, that of National Chairman. He is a past president of the Harare (then Salisbury) Attorneys Association and the National Trust of Zimbabwe. He has been intimately involved in school administration having been Chairman of Alexandra Park Primary School for ten years and on the board of governors of Falcon College for twenty-five years, five of these as Chairman. He is a Trustee of the Wakeford Trust, a charitable trust for educational and vocational purposes.
Tim is an elder and chairman of leadership of the Baptist Bible Church where he and his wife Diana worship. He has over many years conducted Restoring Relationships courses at the Christian Counselling Centre.
Tim plays tennis and golf and he and Diana have three married children and six grandchildren.
Mrs. Charity Johnson joined Dorothy Duncan Centre’s Home for the elderly as an Administrator in March 2009. She was transferred to the Braille Library in June 2012 when the home was closed. Amongst her duties at the Braille Library, she is responsible for all the administrative work including handling all the monetary issues and maintenance of both the Braille Library and the premises at Denmark Avenue in Milton Park. Her vision for the Braille Library is to assist and rehabilitate increased numbers of people who have gone blind so that they are able to go back and lead a normal life in our society. She would like to see more outreach programmes as she feels that DDBL is not as well known as it should be, many people have never heard of the Braille Library and her goal is that within the next year people will know more about the Braille Library and the facilities they have
Mr. Andrew Mutambisi is a fully trained teacher, who has specialised in Special Needs and specifically the rehabilitation and training of the blind and partially sighted. Mr. Mutambisi joined the Dorothy Duncan Braille Library and Rehabilitation Centre in 2009. His long experience working for the welfare of special needs examination candidates at the National Exam Board ZIMSEC has transformed Mr. Mutambisi into a well dedicated and focused resource person for the visually challenged members of society who visit the Dorothy Duncan Braille Library. He is largely in Braille Transcription and Rehabilitation services that are the current major drivers of the Dorothy Duncan Centre as a Welfare Organisation.
With an extensive library of Braille, large print and audio, books, tapes and DVDs, covering both educational and entertainment subjects, the library caters for the blind and partially sighted persons throughout the country. Printing machinery, both in-house and for schools and institutions, for educational and general use of blind persons is constantly in demand and workshops for maintenance and upkeep are kept busy. Classrooms for the rehabilitation of the blind include computers, and domestic appliances.
Donations & Fundraising
Cause4Concern a Trust that specializes in fundraising for Charities and legitimate causes here in Zimbabwe, will be undertaking an aggressive awareness and fund raising initiative on behalf of The Dorothy Duncan Braille Library and Rehabilitation Centre, both locally and internationally. This initiative has been kindly and proudly sponsored by The Old Mutual Foundation.
Through this website, general and specific individuals and organizations interested in the welfare of the blind and partially sighted will be targeted. It is hoped that in turn these initial targets will pass on information to subordinates creating something of a pyramid effect and ultimately reaching thousands of potential donors both large and small.
Through these initiatives it is intended that funds will be raised in order to expand the activities of the Library by being able to offer rehabilitation to increased numbers of Zimbabweans and to expand the level of knowledge of those being rehabilitated in technical skills suitable for the visually impaired, to assist them not only to return to their former employment, but also to achieve promotions in that employment. It is also a vision to empower schools and other Centres, which deal with the visually impaired around the country with both the skills and the equipment to produce Braille material specific to their particular needs.
For more information on the Dorothy Duncan Braille Library and Rehabilitation Centre, and how to make donations from overseas visit www.cause4concernzim.com
For local donations To the Dorothy Duncan Braille Library and Rehabilitation Centre, banking details are as follows:
CABS, Platinum Branch.
a/c no. 901624547
Dorothy Duncan Centre
Post: Monday 28th of September 2015
PICKING UP THE PIECES
Mayibongwe Madisa (26) was coming from a local shopping Centre in Hatfield in Zimbabwe when he was attacked by thugs who gouged out both his eyes. Ordinarily after such a gruesome attack, the temptation to feel pity for yourself and accept your fate is over-powering, however the opposite is true for Mayibongwe who has picked himself up and enrolled for a rehabilitation course with Dorothy Duncan Braille Library and Rehabilitation Unit in Harare.
He holds a Bachelor of Entrepreneurship Development Degree from the University of Zimbabwe. Mayibongwe is a prime candidate for total rehabilitation that will allow him to exercise his talents in entrepreneurship development.
The family whilst initially shocked by his attack has become his pillar of strength, especially his wife Amogelang who escorts him to and from the rehabilitation Centre for his classes each day.
It is hoped that at the end of his 3 month rehabilitation program equipped with Computer, Mobility, Orientation and Daily living skills Mayibongwe will be able to kick start his career, once again proving to the world that there is life after blindness.
Post: Thursday 24th of September 2015
INVITATION TO THE DOROTHY DUNCAN BRAILLE LIBRARY OPEN DAY
You are cordially invited to the Dorothy Duncan Braille Library Open Day on the 30th September 2015. The objective of this open day is to re-connect with old students, institutions, corporates and well-wishers who in the past and present have helped the DDBL operate. We would like to showcase the various assistive devices that the blind use and need. This will be an opportunity for you to become actively involved in the lives of the blind.
The open day is scheduled to start at 0830 hrs – 1600 hrs. Kindly give an indication of the time you will be able to attend at your convenience according to the time given above by Monday 28th September 2015.
We look forward to your participation and support of this noble cause.
Charity Johnson (Mrs)
DIRECTOR – LIBRARY AND REHABILITATION
Post: Thursday 24th of September 2015
By Honeybow Nyamhunga
Display and Expo
The Dorothy Duncan Braille Library has intensified their outreach program through holding displays and expos. The Library participated in the Disability Expo held from the 29-31 July 2015 in Bulawayo. This was the first time the library participated in an exposition that was held outside Harare. The Library is moving away from confining itself to Harare showcasing their products and services to the Southern region of the country. This helps to take on board all people who ordinarily would not be able to come to Harare to look for products for blind people. On display was information on Braille services offered by the Dorothy Duncan Braille Library such as the provision of transcription services, the library service which has both braille and audio services, and the rehabilitation unit which has taken the blind to another level.
During the Disability Expo there were a number of people who expressed ignorance on the availability of a rehabilitation unit that is complete with a computer lab, orientation and mobility facility for the blind. Mrs Loveness Khanye of Malindela suburb in Bulawayo was one such person. As a pastor she has a desire to help other people but she intimated that she found it difficult to motivate other people about ‘what God could do for you’ without such a miracle happening to herself first. After being in contact with the Dorothy Duncan she was left with little doubt that indeed miracles can happen and God can answer prayers.
The presentation on how we help the blind accept and live with blindness encouraged Faith Choto (Mrs Khanye’s daughter) to invite Taffy to meet her mother. We got to Mrs Khanya home with the place looking deserted with no sign of life. Mrs Kanye later emerged out of the house after 10 minutes of anxious knocking. She was clearly struggling to find her way around her own house.
Mrs Khanye a very cheerful woman a Pastor by profession had all but given up the quest for a professional life. Having lost her eyes just before she was due to enrol for her Degree in Theology she thought her world had come crushing on her.
That was before a 30minute lecture on mobility and orientation where aspects on rehabilitation where clearly expounded. She like everybody else who hears about the work being done by Dorothy Duncan Braille Library was amazed at what we do at Dorothy Duncan but do not make a habit of keeping the public aware of these services.
I am glad to say that Mrs Khanye has gained considerable confidence to move around her own surroundings and she now knows how to use the mobility cane properly. Needless to say she needs to follow it up with enrolling into our rehabilitation centre for her to be more proficient in the other facets of rehabilitation offered here.
Post: Wednesday 24th of June 2015
Louis Braille, to whom the blind owe their alphabet, was born in Coupvray, France in 1809. At the age of three, whilst cutting leather in his father’s shop, the knife slipped and plunged into his eye causing him to become blind. At age fifteen Braille worked out an adaptation of an existing code system that adequately met the needs of the sightless. Adoption of the universal Braille code for the English-speaking world, however, did not come until 1932, when representatives of agencies for the blind from United States and Great Britain met in London and agreed upon a Braille system known as Standard English Braille. Over the years, confusion has arisen where countries have adapted the system for their own use.
Earlier this year, the DDBL was able to bring to Zimbabwe from England, Mr George Bell who introduced delegates from around Zimbabwe at a workshop, to the new Unified English Braille Code. In his introductory remarks, Mr Bell expressed his pleasure to be in Zimbabwe, and his admiration for the work Sister Catherine had done for the blind over the last twenty-five years. Mr Bell explained the need for the Unified English Braille, to be used throughout the world, and congratulated Zimbabwe for being amongst the first English-speaking African countries to realise the importance of introducing this concept into their teaching.
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