By Elias Hakizimana
Persons with blind disability in Rwanda say they are able to work despite meeting challenges including exclusiveness and less value by the community when seeking for jobs.
Speaking during the press conference with Rwanda union of the blind (RUB)in Kigali on Thursday, Julienne Ugiriwabo, the woman with blind disability who is also member of RUB shared testimonies with the media of how able she is to perform the work despite difficulties.
Ugiriwabo was not born blind, she got this disability when she was a senior student and was admitted to Kabgayi hospital where she finally became blind from.
She said she manages to work with the rest of the community and tries to accomplish all the tasks as normal visual-people whereas she can’t see.
“Today I have four years living alone in the house, being blind, I have not yet failed to pay for my accommodation and I am a member of the sector council leaders, thanks to RUB organization to help me move from blind loneliness,” said Ugiriwabo.
According to Dr Patrick Suubi, RUB legal advisor, the situation is not yet worse as in the past where blind persons depended on begging to survive.
He said that as they evolved with education, some of blind persons who acquired knowledge in massage and reflexology from Gatagara School started to work in this field and stopped begging.
He said that many blind persons today joined schools and gained advanced knowledge to become entrepreneurs like in agriculture, livestock and in other businesses since their mindset is open.
The big challenge as Suubi noted is that the number of employed blind persons, ongoing and graduates blind students remains unknown.
“Blind persons are willing most to work and to be included in working environment,” RUB CEO Dr Suubi said.
creating own Solutions
Jean Marie Vianney Mukeshimana, Director of Masaka Resource Center for the Blind said he decided to create an institution to cater for these people after experiencing that they can manage to contribute to their survival without begging.
“We help blind people to manage wash clothes, we teach them agriculture, livestock and they can achieve even more, we most of the times help the ones we move from the streets and they can work when they return home after being trained,” Mukeshimana said.
He highlighted that a blind person who was not lucky for formal education can also benefit from practical skills in other disciplines.
According to Dr Beth Mukarwego, one of players of the rights of deafblind persons, representative of blind women countrywide and lecturer at the University of Rwanda’s College Of Education, education for blind persons started after the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi.
She said that negative attitude to persons with blind disability is also the challenge where in the past these people could not finish studies and also used to lose employment.
Among other challenges they raised include lack of assistant people to read for them when seeking for services and lack of materials such as Braille papers and laptops.
“We wish that blind persons get opportunity for work so that they can survive as others without begging, we, blind persons should trust ourselves and strive for exposing that trust to the community because we are able to work,” Mukarwego noted.
Although the Rwanda Union of the Blind says there is no statistical data today, there are over 100 blind persons who graduated from Universities since the year 2008 but few of them are employed due to difficulties including discrimination in recruitment process.
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