Women share stories of courage

Gayle Lewenstein and Tessa Goldreich from the Union of Jewish Women with Bulelwa Mbolekwa, one of the speakers at the Women of Courage summit.

BULELWA Mbolekwa is one of the 'women of courage' who will be addressing women at a fundraising morning hosted by the Union of Jewish Women at Durban Jewish Club on Wednesday, 15 March.

As a blind woman, Bulelwa feels strongly about empowering people with disabilities, especially women.

She was born in the Transkei and at the age of eight, had started to develop cataracts on her eyes. She said she always called herself a tourist as she visited so many different hospitals all over the country during her younger years.

“My parents were determined that I would see, and I had so many different operations on my eyes. Sometimes I would see for about three to five months, then my sight would start going away again. I decided to take a stand, and accept my blindness was part of my journey in life,” she said.

Bulelwa started mainstream schooling but said she couldn’t cope. She moved to the School for the Deaf and Blind in Johannesburg and learnt brail at Zamokuhele Special School in the Eastern Cape, where she finished her matric.

“I enrolled to study an LLB at UDW and this was the beginning of my journey. After I completed my degree, I struggled to obtain my Articles as people only saw my disability and not what I was capable of doing. They had long stories as to why they couldn’t take me on,” she said.

Bulelwa joined Disabled People SA which is involved in advocacy for people with disabilities.

“This is a human rights organisation which empowers the disabled when it comes to their rights, as their right to serve is often deprived,” she said.

She was a part of the organisation for around six years and then moved on to the office of the Premier in Pietermaritzburg where she was a litigation officer, thanks to her background as a lawyer.

“By God’s grace I was then employed at the Department of Health as the deputy manager of the Youth, Gender and Transformation Unit. I also got more involved with Disabled People SA, where I am now the deputy chair, and I am also the chairperson of the KZN Society for the Blind,” she said.

Bulelwa’s passion is to empower the disabled, to ensure they have a voice, that they are respected and that they receive the acknowledgement they deserve.

“I have met so many challenges in my life, but I have overcome these as I have accepted I can’t change what has happened to me. But I am a person, I am a woman, and I am a mother! I am a proudly single woman who is capable of taking care of my three sons, one who is 13 as well as 10-year-old twins. As disabled people we are still part of the puzzle, and we need to be accepted as equal citizens in this county,” she said.

Bulelwa said she is looking forward to speaking at the event, as she wants people to learn more about people living with disabilities.

“This next decade I want to especially see women with disabilities being treated as equals in South Africa and in other parts of the world,” she said.

Join Bulelwa as well as other inspirational speakers who will share their courageous stories at the Durban Jewish Club from 9am to 12.30pm.

Tickets are R180 which includes tea/coffee and refreshments. Contact 031 335 4457 or email: ujwdb[email protected]

Lauren Walford

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