Winston Fani (35), an unemployed blind gentleman, lives in Mfuleni, Cape Town, with his wonderful wife, Busi (43), who is also considered legally blind, and their faithful guide dog, Gladys.
Winston was born with glaucoma, a progressive eye disease, and from the age of 12, has lived life in total darkness. Like so many South Africans, Winston, who worked as a call centre agent at a logistics company in Cape Town, was retrenched during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
“Due to the scarcity of jobs for the visually impaired, and that Winston only has a matric certificate, he has been unable to secure a job despite his determination, and humble dream to support his family,” says Tania Robbertze (54), a friend of the couple who puppy-raised their guide dog.
A vision for the future
For the longest time, Winston, who loves people and has a passion for history and education, has dreamed of furthering his studies and becoming the first blind tour guide in South Africa.
“I want to be the first blind tour guide in South Africa. I want to make history. I want to show it’s not impossible to do what you want to do, despite the obstacles. I want to meet new people and learn from people from different countries who come to visit our country,” says Winston.
To help Winston realise his dream and gain independence, Tania, who has built an everlasting friendship with Winston and his wife, launched a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy, appealing to the public to support Winston in receiving his tour guide certificate.
Thankfully, the appeal reached Enver Duminy, the CEO of Cape Town Tourism, who kindly agreed to cover Winston’s tuition fees for the tour guide course, which will allow Winston to expand his career options.
“Winston is a personable, chatty, gentleman, who connects very well with every person he meets. A job in the tourism industry will be a perfect fit for him,” says Tania.
Tania says there’s a lesson we can all learn from Winston. “Seeing the world from the perspective of a blind man changes how we appreciate and see the world around us. Winston can’t wait to break barriers around visual impairment, and share his unique perspective on the world,” says Tania.