The last month has been a whirlwind of activity, from my initial suspicion when I received the e-mail congratulating me on being awarded a Tributes Excellence award for 2015, culminating in the awards banquet two nights ago.
You must understand the reasons for my initial suspicion – the mail I received was through my website, was related to an award that I had never heard of, was from someone whose name I didn’t recognise, and a few speaking friends had recently received fairly similar scams. So I was somewhat suspicious, as most people would have been. However, after some investigation, not only did the whole thing turn out to be legitimate, but it also turned out that the award put me back into contact with someone I had known when I was studying at the university of KwaZulu Natal, back in the days before I lost my sight.
To explain the whole thing would take far more than just a single post, but perhaps a little background might be of help: the Tributes excellence Awards are awards that are bestowed annually to women with disabilities who are recognised as having excelled in their fields. The list of previous recipients numbers some truly incredible women – to find out the calibre of women who have been recognised, you can take a look at the Tributes website: www.tributessa.co.za
And so, we, the 2015 Tributes Excellence recipients, and our traveling companions, spent a few days in Mangaung (or Bloemfontein, for those of you who know it by that name), being treated to a number of events, experiences and celebrations, courtesy of the Mangaung Municipality. I found the cultural tour of Mangaung of particular interest with my background and love of history, and was moved by our visit to Amelia House, a home for children with severe Cerebral Palsy.
The Tributes Award Ceremony was quite an event, with several government dignitaries from local and national government in attendance, and an audience of around 400 people.
But for me the most lasting impression of the Tributes Excellence 2015 experience will remain the relationships I built with the 12 amazing women who were honoured as this year’s Tributes Excellence award recipients. I was impressed, humbled, motivated, amazed and inspired by the passion and dedication shown by each of the women who were recognised, each of whom is playing a role in making Southern Africa a better place for those who are differently-abled.