It all started with a phone call from PMI late November 2013, offering me an opportunity to do a learnership for persons with disabilities. Three years prior to this, I had lost hearing in both ears and was making use of hearing aids.
Upon my arrival at the PMI offices, CV and qualifications in hand for the induction, Mrs Ronelle Routledge immediately met with me after viewing my CV and informed me that there was a company she knew of, dealing solely with learnerships for persons with disabilities. She said that they were currently sourcing for facilitators and that I would be an ideal candidate. She mentioned that it would fair me better than doing a learnership for which I was overqualified and encouraged me to aim higher.
For me, completing the learnership was a way of integrating myself into the hearing world as I had spent the last two years at home after receiving the hearing aids. I had lost hope of ever working in the Developmental Environment which is what my qualifications aligned with. I hold a BA Degree majoring in Psychology and Sociology, as well as a Postgraduate Degree in Group Dynamics from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
I went along with Ronelle to meet with Mrs Lauren Butler at her offices, upon which Ronelle kept urging me to tell Lauren more about myself. I relayed my story and experiences to her, including how I had come to lose my hearing and the impact it had on my life. I elaborated on my time spent working at Masifunde Child Development and my passion for the industry. She advised that I complete the learnership with PMI in the meantime, and said that she saw something in me and definitely wanted me on her team.
Little did I know that this one brief interaction would be the start of a better life for me for the first time after having to adjust to a life with a disability – which felt like a dismal one at the time. I realised that they did not see a disabled man, but rather a capable human being with the potential to make an impact in an industry I firmly believed in. From then on, hope was built and my self-esteem had started to improve with me realising that I could dream again.
Whilst completing the learnership with PMI, Mrs Butler came to my class one day and asked my facilitator; Unathi Yeko, if I could co-facilitate one of her Business Practice classes. During the facilitation session I felt completely at home, and the experience was what one might call magical. There was an instant connection with the learners. As someone with a hearing impairment who had lost all hope of ever enjoying a normal working environment and doing what I’m passionate about, which is Training and Development, I realised that slowly but surely my dreams were coming true.
After completing my learnership with PMI, I immediately went to I Can! and started working with them, this being the beginning of greater things for me. After a few months in the role as a facilitator, I was sent on assessor training and received my qualification. I continued working with I Can! and the feedback I received from learners who had different learning challenges and disabilities fuelled my passion to stay in this sector along with its challenges – which I embrace as a learning curve. My motto is, “When you know better, you do better.”
Having gained experience in the classroom and witnessing the challenges learners have, my goal now is to become a material developer focusing on disabilities, as I have noticed that something as simple as material could hinder a learner’s entire experience.
I am currently completing a Moderator course and I believe this is another step closer in the right direction, edging me closer to becoming a learning material designer for persons with intellectual disabilities in the future.
I Can! and PMI have given me back my dignity, voice and ability to dream bigger than I could have ever imagined and I am so grateful for that. They gave me the opportunity to give back to the community. Something I firmly believe in is, “When you learn; teach. When you get, give.” by Maya Angelou. I now know with certainty that the Best is Yet to Come!
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