Rwanda Union for the Blind (RUB) has equipped over 400 visually impaired citizens with life skills, through its special training program that started in 2000.
RUB operates through its “Masaka Resource Centre for the Blind” where the blind are taught activities like farming, writing and reading and other basic skills like health science, according Donatilla Kanimba, the head of RUB.
“We enrol people aged 15 years of age and above, in a class of 40, and educate them in our special way. We also equip them with occupational skills like farming,” she explained.
The training lasts six months and most of the beneficiaries hail the institution for its positive impact.
“I could never even buy sandals, because of poverty and isolation; but, now I plant crops and rear animals. I also do banking and shopping alone, despite being blind,” says Donatille Mukarukundo, a former student.
She also gained basic health skills including HIV/AIDS prevention and proper feeding from the training.
Kamaradi Rukundo, who also attended the program in 2007, was helped psychologically.
“We once felt rejected and hopeless. But we can now, for example, contribute to the general cleaning “Umuganda” and other developmental activities, like others.”
The institution, however, lacks funds to increase its capacity for more students, according to Kanimba.
“We are sponsored by NGOs, and risk closing down when their operations expire.
Over Rwf 600,000 is spent on each beneficiary for the six months of study. The latest figures show over 67,000 Rwandans are impaired visually.
The NGOs sponsoring the project include the Swedish Federation for the Visually Impaired, and lately, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and International Danish Association of the Blind.