“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” — Helen Keller
Yesterday marked the annual observance of World Sight Day, a day set aside to promote global awareness regarding Blindness and visual impairment. World Sight Day is observed on the second Thursday in October, and focuses on educating people around the world about prevention and rehabilitation of the Blind and visually impaired.
You may or may not know that Andy and I are both completely blind. I was born without eyesight, and Andy lost his eyesight as a young adult. Over the years, we have faced various challenges in regards to our Blindness, but none that could not be overcome. Here in the United States, we have laws to protect people with disabilities such as Blindness or visual impairment from discrimination in education and employment. We have healthcare specialists who are trained to care for people with a variety of eye conditions, and there is health education available to the general public as well. Furthermore, the government provides funding to people who are disabled and need financial assistance with daily living expenses.
According to the World Health Organization (2012), 285 million people in the world are visually impaired. About 90% of the world’s visually impaired people live in developing countries. “Blindness is most prevalent in developing countries where malnutrition, inadequate health and education services, poor water quality and a lack of sanitation leads to a high incidence of eye disease” (Himalayan Cataract Project, 2012).
When Andy and I were both completing our primary and secondary education, we faced barriers that our sighted classmates did not face. However, there were special educational services in place, and we were able to receive the additional materials and instruction needed to allow us to graduate with our peers.
I can not read regular print, so I was taught from a young age how to read Braille. We use a text-to-speech screen reading program called JAWS for Windows to independently use our computer. We adapt things in our life where needed, and we have relied on individuals with special training to help us learn Braille and other technology.
Imagine how difficult it must be then, for a visually impaired child living in poverty, who does not have such laws or special educational services provided to them. For children living in poverty, there already exists a lack of scholastic materials, teachers, and adequate educational facilities. Many families living in poverty do not have the money to pay for school uniforms or tuition fees. I imagine it is additionally difficult to provide special educational services or materials such as Braille or large print to a child who is visually impaired.
Andy and I, like many other visually impaired individuals in the United States, have also received independent living and vocational rehabilitation services. These services are provided by the government to aid the visually impaired individual in independently caring for their daily needs, traveling safely, and obtaining employment or higher education. This further allows us to contribute to society by adequately and independently caring for our family and home.
For someone living in poverty that is visually impaired, it may be difficult or impossible to contribute to their family and community by performing such necessary tasks as carrying water, or buying and selling goods in the market (Himalayan Cataract Project, 2012).
While reading this, you may feel that there could not possibly be hope for people living in poverty who are visually impaired. Andy and I believe there is hope, and we believe that each of us can make a difference. We must be willing to catch the vision of hope and pass it on. The World Health Organization estimates that 19 million children under age 15 are visually impaired. “Of these, 12 million children are visually impaired due to refractive errors, a condition that could be easily diagnosed and corrected.” Furthermore, “Globally, 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured” (World Health Organization, 2012).
Donate today, to provide critical medical treatment to a visually impaired child living in poverty!
One way you can provide hope to a visually impaired child living in poverty is by donating to Compassion International’s medical assistance fund. This fund is part of Compassion’s Complimentary Interventions program, and provides medical treatment to the children Compassion serves around the world. For children who are visually impaired, this treatment may include eye exams, eyeglasses, surgery, or prosthetic eyes. Specific treatment depends on the country, and what resources are available.
Pass on the vision of hope to one of these children today!
Another way you can provide hope to a visually impaired child living in poverty is by sponsoring one of the children featured below! Your sponsorship and letters of love and encouragement will let your sponsored child know that he/she is loved and prayed for, and that even with a physical disability, he/she still has a unique ability to be greatly used in the Kingdom of God. You will be able to help your sponsored child know and realize that their visual impairment does not limit God’s ability to work in and through them. You can give one of these children, their family, and community the vision of hope! I can guarantee your own vision of hope will also become clearer than ever before.
*Update: Zewdneh from Ethiopia has been sponsored! Thank you for passing on the vision of hope to this precious child!
Yahir is 5 years old, and lives in the coastal community of Ponte Duro with his mother and at least one sibling. At home, Yahir’s duties include carrying water and running errands. Playing ball games and running are his favorite activities. In kindergarten his performance is average and he also regularly attends church activities and Bible class. Yahir’s mother is sometimes employed. Most adults in Ponte Duro work as fishermen and earn the equivalent of $130 per month.
One thing Yahir’s community needs is an improved community health center, and one of the common health concerns is malnutrition. As stated at the beginning of this post, these are two causes of eye disease in developing countries.
Some of the benefits provided to Yahir via your sponsorship are: Bible classes, medical checkups, health and hygiene education, nutritious food, reading workshops, school supplies and homework supervision. In addition, your consistent letters of love and encouragement will give Yahir the confidence he needs to reach his full God-given potential.
In his home, Francis helps by carrying water, gathering firewood and caring for children. He lives on the plains of Poblacion with his parents and at least one sibling. His father is sometimes employed and his mother maintains the home. Most adults in Poblacion are unemployed but some work as day laborers and earn the equivalent of $75 per month.
For fun, Francis enjoys singing, playing with marbles and art. He attends church activities and Vacation Bible School regularly and is in primary school where his performance is average.
One of the Common health problems in Francis’s community is malnutrition, and two of the community needs are affordable health care and improved sanitation. Your sponsorship allows the staff of Agape Child Development Center to provide Francis with Bible lessons, medical and dental treatment, sports, talent showcases, educational field trips, school supplies and fees and leadership development programs.
Angel is 9 years old, and he makes his home with his father and his mother. Carrying water and running errands are his household duties. His father is sometimes employed and his mother maintains the home. There are 4 children in the family. Soccer and playing with cars are Angel’s favorite activities. In primary school his performance is below average and he also regularly attends church activities, Bible class and Vacation Bible School.
Angel lives in the hillside community of Coxquihui, Veracruz, home to approximately 5,000 residents. Typical houses are constructed of cement floors, wood walls and cardboard roofs. The regional diet consists of maize. Common health problems in this area include malnutrition, diabetes and hypertension. Most adults are unemployed but some work as day laborers and earn the equivalent of $153 per month. This community needs secondary schools, employment opportunities and substance abuse rehabilitation programs.
Your sponsorship allows the staff of Beraca Student Center to provide Angel with Bible teaching, hygiene and health education, craft workshops, music classes and sporting events. The center staff will also provide marriage conferences and evangelism for the parents or guardians of Angel.
If you choose to sponsor any of these precious boys, we would love to know about it! Please tell us about your decision to pass on the vision of hope and release a child from poverty in Jesus’ name!