Visually Impaired But Able
We are excited to announce the launch of this new initiative called Visually Impaired But Able (VIBA), whereby we are committed to reaching out to people who are blind or have moderate to severe visual impairment, one family at a time, with a single objective of improving their quality of life. Galatians 6:2 says “Bear one another burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” With this mandate in mind, VIBA aims to empower them with resources that will optimize functionality and foster self-sufficiency, all for the glory of our Lord, Jesus.
From early childhood to late adulthood, vision facilitates various complexities of life management. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that on a global scale, 36 million people are completely blind, while approximately 217 million people have moderate to severe visual impairment (MSVI), totalling approximately 253 million people worldwide. Of these, 89% of the total number live in low and middle-income countries. When we narrow it down to just Africa, WHO states that an estimated total of 26.3 million people live with a form of visually impaired, of which 5.9 million are completely blind. In addition to the existing economic and political limitations in these nations, being blind and/or having MSVI is associated with lower workforce participation, unequal opportunity to work, social exclusion and marginalization, lower chance of personal goal attainment, poor health outcomes, and overall just a lower quality of life. As a result, our hearts are filled with compassion for many of our brothers and sisters in Christ with MSVI. They face significant challenges for survival that often lead them into the streets, which in turn exposes them to physical and sexual assault, falls and injuries, kidnapping, exploitation, and in more severe cases, death. To them, this is a reality and a part of their daily struggle. Therefore, our goal is to assist as many as we can, one family at at time. The desired outcome will be achieved through the four-step process outlined below:-
1. Identify Immediate needs
Once we identify the family/individual we will be working with, they will often have unique challenges that will require immediate attention before we can empower them. Thus, this first step is to identify and address those needs, which may include shelter, clothing, food, urgent medical attention, etc.
2. Identify their strengths and skills
Once they are in a stable condition, we will work with them to map out their goals, aspirations, strengths, and skills that they already have. The goal is to channel out and identify the ‘sweet-spot’ where their passions intersect with their existing skills and empower them to strategically follow through.
3. Assist them with skills training
The blind and visually impaired people are capable of work, however, they may not have received adequate, if any, training in any skill or trade. Therefore, if skills training is deemed necessary, they will be referred for further assistance through our Burden Bearers Skills Training Program.
4. Fair Start
In this final step, we will assist these people with getting off the ground on their journey to independence. The individual’s unique case will be carefully analyzed to identify the most appropriate help required to set them up for success. Assistance can include connecting them with gainful employment that matches their skills, initial capital to start their business or projects, lobbying government organizations, or referral to other organizations that will assist.