Johanna Desha’s eyes filled with tears as she stood on top of Table Mountain, staring out at Robben Island in the distance. Less than a century ago Desha, disfigured 20 years ago by leprosy, would have been banished to the island.
The island has a fascinating history, most notably that it was where political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, were held captive. But from 1846 to 1931 it was a hospital for people with leprosy, and the mentally and chronically ill.
Robben Island was chosen for a hospital because it was regarded as both secure (isolating dangerous cases) and healthy (providing a good environment for cure).
Desha was part of a group of people from Villiersdorp brought by Fireball Ministries to Table Mountain, to experience the beauty of the New7Wonder of Nature.
Collette van Aswegen, the Cableway’s marketing manager, said the Cableway supports underprivileged and non-profit organisations by providing them either with a free day out on Table Mountain, or by giving them Cableway tickets to be used as competition prizes in fundraising for worthy causes.
Fireball Ministries, run by Kudi and Angeli Christi was given 17 tickets to bring the group up the mountain in the cable car, as part of the Cableway’s Corporate Social Investment programme.
In the past year the Cableway made it possible for 21 500 people, who may never otherwise have had the opportunity, to ride the cable car to the summit of Table Mountain to enjoy the vistas and the serenity.
Kudi Christi says: “We believe that if somone has never tasted an ice-cream, they will never desire to eat an ice-cream. If one has never seen a car, how can they desire one? In the same way, if they have never seen the beauty of life and the splendour of our country, how can they desire to have a better life or desire to keep our country beautiful?”
Miriam Windvogel, 62, takes care of five children, two of them fostered and three her grandchildren – their mother died when the youngest, Simone, was only one month old. Simone who is now five and her sister Tasha, 13, were also on the mountain, a first for them and their grandmother.
“That is why we appreciate your gift so much more than you can think. The only way these kids can desire a better life for themselves, is if they can see with their own eyes and experience for themselves that a better, happier life exists than the one they know,” Kudi Christi said.
“We showed Desha Robben Island from the top of Table Mountain and explained to her how fortunate she is to be among people who love her, because in earlier years people with leprosy were banned to live on Robben Island, away from their loved ones. She was in tears at the thought,” Angeli Christi said.
For more information on the Cableway’s Corporate Social Investment programme, send an email to email@example.com.
Besides giving people a free or discounted ticket to visit the mountain, pensioners and students are given discounts every Friday if they produce their pension or student cards. South Africans over the age of 18 are also given a free ticket on their birthdays, but they must produce their green, bar-coded ID book.