2720288662 There’s a crucial silence required when making the perfect cup of coffee without seeing, one of the country's first qualified blind baristas, Joseph Matheatau, says. “Concentration and silence are needed to froth the milk - it’s the most challenging part. If I could see, then I would know when the milk has been frothed to the perfect consistency, but I can’t, so I wait until it sounds like paper is tearing, then I know it’s ready,” Matheatau said. Matheatau, 38, originally from the rural area of Thaba 'Nchu in the Free State, now lives in Worcester with his girlfriend and one-year-old son, and works at Blindiana Barista - South Africa’s first blind museum and coffee shop. The coffee shop is an initiative by Kaleidoscope, previously The Institute for the Blind, and provides much-needed employment for blind people in the area. It gives patrons the opportunity to be served by visually impaired waiters and eat cuisine prepared by blind or partially sighted people.
 Matheatau was born with a blind right eye and had partial sight in his left eye until his early twenties, when he finally discovered he had glaucoma.
“We were very poor and my school was a mud hut with tiny windows. Because it was very dark in my classrooms, it made things worse for my weak sight. I would always finish my work last and never completed tests in time. My teachers thought I was lazy, and I was often beaten. But I went through all of that to complete my matric, although my marks were not that good,” Matheatau said. He arrived in Worcester in 2014 to study marketing and sales management. He was then approached by representatives of Kaleidoscope to be trained as a barista, and today Matheatau is the country’s first qualified blind barista. He is also redoing his matric so that he can study towards a degree in psychology. Proceeds from the shop will go towards expanding services to persons with visual impairment at Kaleidoscope, a non-profit organisation that caters for the all-inclusive needs of the blind. It is also good news for the local blind school. Educational psychologist Marietha Meiring has been a teacher at Pioneer School, which was founded to serve the educational needs of blind and partially sighted pupils. Due to the need for facilities for pupils with special educational needs in the rural areas, the school consequently started enrolling pupils with various other barriers to learning, and the school was split into two campuses: one hosting the blind and partially sighted, and the other for pupils with learning disabilities. The principal and SGB then requested that the school be separated into two schools, Langerug as a school for specific learning difficulty pupils, and Pioneer, as school for the blind. This was approved at the end of 2014, and Langerug started as a self-contained school with its own principal and support staff. Meiring said the coffee shop was exciting news for the pupils, and a walking route to the shop will be introduced into the curriculum soon. SOURCE: IOL