Born 34 years ago, Anatalie Dunia had been married for two years when visual impairment struck and ruined her marriage.
The resident of Mukamira Sector, Nyabihu District cannot control tears when she recalls what befell her in 2001.
“I fell sick for days and when I went for treatment, the doctors told me that I will never see again. That was the beginning of my hard life,” she says.
“I went home and narrated the ordeal to my husband but just a month later, he abandoned me, saying he was not ready to live with a blind person,” she recalls.
Following the collapsed marriage, Dunia stayed with her mother and siblings for three years.
“I lived a dependent life until I decided to go to Masaka rehabilitation centre where visually impaired people are given mobility and life skills. I later came back home and started looking for survival,” says the mother of a 13-year-old boy.
Doing small business
Dunia says she managed to buy two rabbits that she reared and sold after they multiplied.
“I used the money I got from rearing rabbits to establish a vegetable business. I started selling tomatoes, cabbages, dodo, among others,” she says.
To boost her business, Dunia secured Rwf70,000 from a wellwisher which she used to set up a permanent business kiosk.
“I paid Rwf150,000 for a kiosk which also served as my residence. I did my best to improve it and added other products such as rice, sugar, salt and soap,” Dunia says.
“As my income improved, in 2010, I found it important to get more space, now I have a two roomed-house. I am no longer living a dependent life. Though the journey is still too long, I have a roof over my head,” she says.
How she manages
Dunia’s business prowess surpasses human understanding. She says she employs intuition to identify quantity as well as quality.
“ I test quantity by feeling, I count tomatoes and know how many I am selling and for how much depending on the market forces of demand and supply. Like all business people, I know when products are scarce and when they are available in plenty,” she says.
“For other products that are measured in kilos, I have people I trust and they help me,” she adds.
Yet, she says, her major achievement was not to become a beggar. “God has saved me from becoming a street beggar. It is what I feared most in my life,” she says.
“But besides that, I have got much more. I have a house worth Rwf500, 000. I also have small animals such as goats and sheep that I rear and I hope to grow my business further. I can provide for myself and I am able to contribute toward our visually impaired people’s association,” she proudly says.
Dunia’s challenge is, however, lack of enough capital to expand her business and shortage of modern tools like weighing scales.
There are about 50,000 cases of blindness in Rwanda with the major causes being cataract, trachoma and glaucoma while poor vision is caused by refractive error such as myopia
According to ophthalmology specialists, about 80 per cent of these cases can be reversed.
WHO statistics show that about 39 million people worldwide are blind. Another 246 million people live with moderate or severe visual impairments, and 80 per cent of all cases of blindness in developing countries could be treated or prevented.
Verediane Nyiransengiyumva, Dunia’s client says the business woman offers quality services and respects her clients.
“She is a welcoming woman who knows how to handle her customers. Her products are also not as expensive as those of other business people. I take her as a woman who does her best despite her disability,” said Nyiransengiyumva.