Visually impaired can live normal lives – NGO

Anulika Menanya, Lagos


The Federal Nigeria Society for the Blind Vocational Training Centre says there is hope for the visually impaired.

The Society is a Non-Governmental Organisation with the sole aim of rehabilitating the blind in the society.

The organisation during its 24th Annual Inter-house sports competition held on Thursday, 14 March 2019 at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, encouraged those living with the disability, to rise above it as they can still live fulfilled lives.

According to an Executive council member, Ms. Adeola Obagun, the society wants to restore hope and confidence and teach them new skills.

Ms. Obagun said “It is not the end of the world” to be blind, “rather it is the beginning of a new world, new possibilities. We have people who have graduated from here and represented Nigeria in the Paralympics and won medals”.

“Today is all about uplifting people through sports and also about telling people who we are, getting people not be ashamed of their blindness but to be proud of it, to rise above it and make an impact in the society. We have a student who is working in the UN representing us globally. He is more productive now that he is blind than when he had his sight”.

Ms Obagun called for support in forms of donations and volunteering to help achieve the centre’s aims.

“A lot of people think we are a government institution but we are not, the society was established before Nigeria gained independence, funding comes from philanthropists. Every month we spend close to 3 million naira maintaining the place”.

She advocated for regular eye checkups to prevent needless blindness in the country.

“This week is World Glaucoma week; we are raising awareness about that. Most of our students went blind due to Glaucoma. We want to tell people to please go and check, there is no cure to Glaucoma, and so if you discover you have it you can stop it from getting worse. Sometimes there are no symptoms. Go to an ophthalmologist and do a thorough check”

The captain of the winning blue team, Cyril Ojemen, was a teacher before being diagnosed with Glaucoma that left him blind. He said the school has empowered him through intellectual advancements, mental alertness and plans to go back to teaching when he graduates.

An old student of the school, who is a computer analyst, Olafemi Bolaji, said life after being blind was not easy but being blind has made him venture into areas he thought was impossible.

“I graduated from the school 8 years ago. It was an accident that caused my blindness. After the accident, I spent one year at the Vocational centre and graduated as a computer analyst. I have been a happy person since then”, Mr Bolaji said.

The Vice President, Para-Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Taiwo Kasumu, a friend of the centre, said the federation is working closely with the school to discover athletes to represent Nigeria.

Mr Kasumu said “most of our the athletes comes out of this school, we are catching them from the grassroots, right from there we start to nurture them to see how they are able to cope with our own level of training apart from their school training. If they are able to do well, the sky is going to be their limit”.

“We have had medallists from here; the recent is their Games Mistress, Funmi Olasunkanmi. I discovered her in 2013 and I took her to Dubai where she won 2 bronze medals in 100m and 200m, though she was disqualified in one race due to a mistake from the guide runner,”  he added.

Blue house beat Red house to win the 24th Annual Inter-house sports competition by 80 to 63 points.

The competition featured seven sports including 50m Race, 3 legged Race, Skittle Game, Walking Race, Tug of War, Rounders Game and Long Jump.

According to a 2005-2007 survey, it is estimated that 4.25 million people in Nigeria are visually impaired or blind with Cataracts the leading cause of the disability.

Others are Glaucoma, Diabetes, Trachoma, River blindness, Uncorrected Refractive Errors, Childhood blindness and Accidents.

Although some causes are not preventable a lot more are with early detection and proper treatment and the goal of the Federal Nigeria Society for the Blind Vocational Training Centre is to ease the effects of blindness on the country.