Disabled persons locked away from society
“…there are people with visual impairments who receive a disability grant, but they never have any power over their own money. In many cases, the family handle the money and decide what to buy for them, with the individual having no choices,” said Monica Nangolo, southern regional coordinator of the Namibian Federation of the Visually Impaired (NFVI).
Speaking at a commemoration of White Cane Day recently in Keetmanshoop, Nangolo added that visually impaired people are often hidden from society and locked up inside their houses. “Some people with visual impairments are still kept inside the houses without giving them proper food or water to drink or to clean themselves. Many don’t have proper accommodation and as a result, they are forced to sleep with small children in the same room even though they are elders. These are a few of the many reasons why NFVI needs to continue to raise awareness to reduce or stop this discrimination against people with visual impairment. We need to work together as one community,” she emphasised. White Cane Day is celebrated worldwide on 15 October annually. The day is dedicated to celebrate the achievements of people who are blind or visually impaired. Also speaking at the White Cane Day celebrations, Lucia Basson, special advisor to the Karas governor, urged people not to hide their children or family members from society because of their disability. “We need more awareness on the challenges faced by blind people. We should also encourage them to take up opportunities and not hide them. Do not think because you are blind you won’t get that job or that opportunity. Apply for the positions and go out there and try. “And often we hide our children instead of sending them to institutions where they can be trained in different aspects so that they can do something for themselves. We also need to be patient with our people because when they are dealing with visual impairment and other disabilities they can be stubborn and won’t want assistance. But we need to help them,” Basson said. About 45 people who suffer from visual impairments are registered with the Disability Centre in Keetmanshoop; of these five are totally blind while 40 are partially blind. “Through development and equalisation of rights and opportunities, visually impaired people can now compete with sighted people. This means that visually impaired people, through education and training, can have the same opportunities as all other Namibians and they can work in various sectors or fields. Living independently does not mean that we are pushing our people living with visual impairments out of their family homes to live alone, it simply means that visually impaired people need to make their own decisions based on their own feelings,” Nangolo maintained.
Skorpion Zinc donated 10 canes for the Namibian Federation of the Visually Impaired while Social Security’s Keetmanshoop branch donated N$10,000.