According to the latest published survey by International Centre for Eye Health, in November 2016, There are 4.2 million visually impaired people in Nigeria, of which 1.13 million are completely blind. The situation is worsened by the fact that many of the indicators of blindness can be prevented with regular eye tests and improved primary care.
The support structures in place for blind people are few and far between, and more often that not, when a person becomes blind, their families cannot cope. The reality of life for a person living with blindness often has a gruesome beginning.
Chioma Evelyn is founder of Bethesda Home and School for the blind. For the past 12 years she has been providing sanctuary, teaching and uplifting visually impaired Nigerians. Her center cares for 70 blind students of all ages, mostly orphans. Her success lies in the fact that 21 of the students are now university eligible.
Her 2 shining stars are Essien (20) and Philomena (30). Both these students share the same tragic story. They went blind in their mid teens and were locked away from society by their parents. Philomena was rescued from her prison by Chioma’s brother at her home in Enugu.
Lagos born Essien went blind at age 15. He spent 2 years trapped at home, relying on the radio as his only source of stimulation.
Both their families have ostracized them believing blindness is a disease. Philomena and Essien are positive, inspiring people. Philomena has passed her JAMB and is eagerly awaiting a scholarship to put her through university. Essien dreams of being a musician, and needs further funding to help him adjust to life as a blind scholar. He needs to learn braille in order to develop his independence.