From being born with a visual impairment to fighting against homelessness and family abuse, Marco Hartse recently won first prize as part of a national COVID-19 vaccine awareness art competition for young people.
The #KeReady2Flex Challenge was initiated by the DG Murray Trust in March this year with the objective of getting young people to produce creative work that promotes getting vaccinated.
The artwork represented Hartse’s emotions and feelings, carrying a story of the struggles that he has overcome to achieve recognition and victory.
“The drawing with the road represents the road to healing. If everybody decides to get vaccinated, we can fast-track the road to recovery, which is in our hands,” Hartse said.
The competition invited non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from across the country to host an event that creates an opportunity for their members and communities to showcase their talent.
The competition produced more than 100 winners between the ages of 12 and 34 years. Hartse, a beneficiary at Cape Town Society for the Blind (CTSB), won first prize for his two art pieces.
Hartse joined CTSB in 2017 to learn cane weaving and later became a small business unit owner at the training facility in Salt River.
CTSB teaches skills to blind and visually impaired persons in the Western Cape and more than 120 students attend a multitude of accredited training programmes such as ICDL and End-User Computing.
The learning programmes at CTSB not only teach skills, but also encompasses recognition of the whole person and this is how his talent as an artist came to be recognised.
“Having worked with artists in a programme specifically geared toward developing emerging artists with disabilities – when I saw Hartse’s artwork I saw potential. I saw the passion and the story he was trying to communicate through his art,” CTSB Business Development Manager Veronica Pronk said.
Pronk was astounded by the detail and the depth of his work and immediately knew that with some encouragement, guidance and development he would be able to create magical work, both on paper and on canvas.
CTSB encouraged Hartse to enter his artwork in the #KeReady2Flex Challenge.
When he received the news that he had won first prize in the final week of the #KeReady2Flex Challenge, he was very emotional and has used most of his prize money to assist his Wesbank community.
“It felt good being able to help people who have nothing; to see a smile on their face when I gave them some food or groceries. That made me happy,” Hartse said.