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Monday, 18 December 2017

Delft Dad’s big plans

AMBITIOUS: Ornette Danse, a blind call centre agent, graduates today with a National Diploma in Public Management AMBITIOUS: Ornette Danse, a blind call centre agent, graduates today with a National Diploma in Public Management

After matriculating Ornette Danse’s biggest ambition was to work at SAPS as a switchboard operator.

The blind father of three was so determined to realise this dream that he worked as a switchboard operator at a police station for free for an entire year. This sacrifice eventually paid off when he was recruited into the SAPS's busy 10111 call centre.

Fast forward a decade and Ornette has used that same determination to propel himself through a 3-year part-time diploma in Public Management with which he graduates on 13 December 2017.

While the journey has been tough for the 32-year-old he wouldn’t let the personal hurdles get in the way of completing his course on time and with at least 10 distinctions earned during his studies. In 2016, two of his children needed serious surgeries and the family even moved from Eerste River to Delft to make the commute easier for Ornette who mostly attended night classes at CPUT’s Bellville campus.

“Being a call centre agent is a good job but I didn’t see myself doing that in the future and I wanted to improve on my education, so that I can be a better father and husband and ultimately earn a better salary. I love current affairs and politics and Public Management was a way of using the skills I already have with my interest in news,” he says.

Ornette says he was received with open arms and accommodated by fellow students, lecturers, the CPUT Disability Unit and even his employer, who all went out of their way to make him comfortable.

“It was things like a security guard helping me to the bathroom, getting my notes saved in Word and not PDF format and my employer also arranging transport for me at night and making over-time arrangements,” he says.

“I knew I couldn’t fail even one subject because they believed in me and you often hear people complain that blind people just expect things for nothing. If I get promoted one day I want to earn it.”

Ornette also speaks six languages – English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Tswana – a skill he picked up during his time at the Athlone School for the Blind and during his upbringing in the Free State.

To watch the video of Ornette being capped and hooded visit our Facebook page.

Written by Lauren Kansley

Tel: +27 21 953 8646

Liaises with the media and writes press releases about interesting developments at CPUT.