Cameron Parker

Cameron Parker

IF I CAN DO IT, YOU CAN DO IT TOO

Today’s story is about a young man who has learnt how to overcome his physical impairment. His courage teaches us the valuable lesson that we all can.

Cameron Parker, 27, born in Mitchell’s Plain, tells us how he became visually impaired, ‘when I was two years old I contracted aseptic meningitis and luckily it was caught on time.’ When Cameron woke up, his world changed forever; he was now blind. ‘I was too young, so I don’t remember well but my family told me that it was difficulty to adjust. They said that I often walked into things and for them it was heart breaking to see my struggle.’

‘One thing I can still remember that I felt very sad about, was that I couldn’t run anymore like the other children. Where I lived the children didn’t understand so they would often make fun of me and call me names. It made me feel isolated and I found it difficult to make friends.’

Fortunately for Cameron, he was placed in a special school for visually impaired children. ‘I loved school, it was a great environment to be in and it was so much fun. At school I felt at home, people surrounding me understood my situation. I felt normal and we would often make jokes amongst ourselves. One fond memory I have is when we would accidentally bump into each other and then turn and say, “watch where you are going, are you blind?”, we would burst into laughter afterwards. Being visually impaired at school was not an issue and we could get on without feeling different.’

In 2006, Cameron matriculated at Pioneer School for the Blind, ‘school was a haven and protected us from the world outside. After Matric I began to feel despondent and depressed. I began to doubt myself, who would want me? Who would employ me over a sighted person? I spent the next two years at home doing nothing. ‘

These were two long years for Cameron, ‘I am an inquisitive person because I can’t see, so I would often irritate my sisters by asking them questions. I would ask what was happening and to explain the movie they were watching.  They often got upset, and at times they would make hurtful remarks like “see for yourself”. Once again, I felt isolated and quite lost.’

One day Cameron went to the shop to buy bread, ‘it was a normal day, as I crossed the road a car hit me. Fortunately, I wasn’t hurt too badly just bruised and ached for a few days. But as a result, one of my neighbors assisted me to go home and on our way, he told me about the Cape Town Society for the Blind.’

After a few days Cameron decided to visit the Society, ‘I didn’t really know what to expect but from the first moment I visited I felt at home.  People were helpful and once again they could understand me. I was able to further my training in computers, which is something I had always enjoyed at school. Through this training, I completed a Business NQF level 2-learnership.’

Once Cameron completed his training, he was able to find his first job in a shoe factory, ‘I was so happy to get a job, whilst it is not my dream job it gives me independence and a life for which I am grateful for.’ Cameron has been working in this factory for the past four years, but he dreams to be able to work with computers, ‘my dream is one day to have a job in computers. I want to help develop programs for visually impaired people.’

We asked Cameron how his life has changed in the past few years, ‘I am more independent and I have gained my confidence back. There are many things that people thought I wouldn’t be able to do, but everyday I surprise them. No one thought I could navigate my way to work via public transport but now I do it everyday. They also never thought I would run again, but I run from work to the train station.’ With a smile in his face Cameron adds, ‘I have had to start “tooting” when I run, so that other walkers on the street know I am coming.’

Cameron has not kept this newfound confidence to himself; he shares it with anyone if he can. ‘There was another boy who came to the Society and I could sense a similar lack of confidence as I had when I first arrived. I decided to mentor him on public transport and to show him that he could do it. When I am able to assist others to overcome their fears and regain self-confidence, I feel happier. I have become more perceptive and also notice that even sighted people lack in confidence and need a helping hand. So, I always tell them “If I can do it, you can do it too.”

Cameron left the interview with a final piece of advice, ‘don’t let others say what you can or can’t do. Just do it!’

Cameron is a member of the Cape Town Society for the Blind