World Sight Day marked in Rwamagana

RWAMAGANA - The World Sight Day was on Thursday marked at Gatagara Primary School of the blind, in Rwamagana District, with a call on Rwandans to desist from subjecting people with visual impairment to stigma.
Dr. John Nkurikiye testing eye sight at the event in Rwamagana. Photo S. Rwembeho.
Dr. John Nkurikiye testing eye sight at the event in Rwamagana. Photo S. Rwembeho.

RWAMAGANA - The World Sight Day was on Thursday marked at Gatagara Primary School of the blind, in Rwamagana District, with a call on Rwandans to desist from subjecting people with visual impairment to stigma.

World Sight Day is an annual awareness day held on the second Thursday of October, to focus global attention on blindness and visual impairment.

During the event, a team of 40 Ophthalmology Superior Technicians led by Dr. Wanjiku Mathenge, the head of Department of Ophthalmology at Kigali Health Institute (KHI) and Lt. Col Dr. John Nkurikiye of the RDF, carried out eye tests and counselled several pupils at the school.

Dr. Mathenge, who also heads an NGO known as Fred Holland Foundation, said the organisation assists Rwanda and eight other African countries, to deal with eye care and blindness, including training opticians.

She said a good number of eye specialists have been trained in Rwanda, compared to past years, and this has minimised blindness in the country.

“The trend is excellent…we started with very few doctors, but today, the number is remarkable. The fact that we have a school for the blind itself is a big achievement to make us smile,” she said.

“The challenge is to achieve the 2020 vision for the blind, reverse blindness, train personnel, and put more resources in trainings.”

Lt Col. Nkurikiye, an ophthalmologist working with Kanombe Military Hospital, said they managed to assess the degree of blindness of Gatagara pupils so as to determine the kind of support they needed.

The day was marked under the theme ‘Count down to the vision 2020’ Reflecting on the day’s theme, Nkurikiye said they were handling it in the context of care for the blind. He disclosed that their tests revealed that some pupils were partially blind, while others were totally blind.

Jean Marie Vianney Mukeshimana, one of the visually impaired teachers at the school, said that the blind shouldn’t be stigmatized by the society.

“Society has a negative attitude towards us and undermines our capacity. I am totally blind, but I teach with those whose vision is perfect,” he said.

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