Perseverance is key to success and that’s exactly what 51-year-old Sadia Daniels has proved.
Ms Daniels, from Westgate, in Mitchell’s Plain, surpassed expectation when she passed her Grade 12 exams with a Bachelor’s pass, despite being visually impaired.
The mother of two had been struggling with her sight since she was in high school, battling to see what was on the board in class.
Trips to the doctor to find what was causing her visual problems were futile because doctors couldn’t make a diagnoses, telling her, her eyesight seemed normal.
Ms Daniels, however, knew something was wrong.
She struggled in school and after Grade 10 decided to give up and start working. She got work as an administrator but things didn’t get any easier for her.
Ms Daniels had to take special measures to get her work done, such as zooming in on her computer screen and carrying a magnifying glass to see better. She adapted her lifestyle around her poor eyesight and still excelled at her job. It was only when her sight got worse and she sought more medical advice that she found a specialist who was able to give a proper diagnosis.
She had Stargardt’s macular dystrophy disease. “Everybody was shocked when I was finally diagnosed because even I was sceptical about whether there was actually something wrong with my eyes. I had never heard of the disease before but I was relieved that there was finally a diagnosis,” said Ms Daniels.
Stargardt disease is a degeneration of photoreceptor cells in the retina. There is no cure for the disease yet.
Ms Daniels was subsequently medically boarded and that’s when she reached out to League of the League of Friends for the Blind (LOFOB in Grassy Park and took part in their independence development programme over 20 years ago.
“At first I was a bit overwhelmed but they helped me cope and learn much needed skills to deal with my visual impairment,” said Ms Daniels.
Last year Ms Daniels decided to complete her matric. She studied hard, with the help of Lofob, tutors and family and triumphed. “I wanted to pass with a distinction but I am still very proud of my achievement, bearing in mind that I wrote six subjects,” said Ms Daniels.
She encouraged other women to believe in themselves. “When women do phenomenal things we are a beacon of light to our families and communities. Disabilities and other things shouldn’t hold you back because we have access to so many things and it is possible to achieve more,” said Ms Daniels.
Lofob’s Manager of Services to Youth and Adults, Heidi Volkwijn said the institution is proud of Ms Daniel’s achievements. “Sadia and I started together as clients at Lofob over 20 years ago so to see the journey her life has taken is incredible. The way she has applied herself to achieving what she wants is amazing. She’s proof and testament to the fact that nothing is impossible,” said Ms Volkwijn.
Ms Daniels thanked Lofob, her tutors, her family and all those who supported her on her journey.