Visually impaired workshop participants demonstrating the proper use of a female condom
HIV&AIDS does not discriminate. It affects all humanity as a whole. Many programs have been initiated to fight the pandemic but visually impaired persons are for the most left out of such programmes and campaigns.
Regrettably, we still live in a world where visually impaired persons are thought to be asexual and therefore not in any danger of contracting HIV.
In 2005, in partnership with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, AFUB has piloted a pioneer HIV&AIDS awareness and training programme targeting visually impaired persons in 14 countries in Africa in order for visually impaired persons to have easy access to HIV information and services.
The project has trained over 150 peer educators, 90 of whom are women; set up national lobby committees in each of the project target countries: Cameroon, Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, Rwanda, and Tanzania. Peer educators were entrusted to train 33 visually impaired persons at the grassroots level. Over 4,900 visually impaired were reached, 60 percent of whom were women.
The project has proven successful, and has been extended to 10 more countries: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Liberia, Lesotho, Mali, South Africa, and Togo. 250 peer educators have been trained, 150 of whom are women. Nearly 8,250 visually impaired have been reached by our dedicated peer educators!
The ripple effect
Hussein Hurqato is one of the beneficiaries of AFUB’s HIV&AIDS Awareness and Training Programme and was one of the 25 participants trained as a Peer Educator in Ethiopia.
Using the knowledge and understanding he received from the AFUB Peer Education workshop, Hussein wrote a proposal to his local National AIDS Commission (HAPCO) asking them to provide financial resources so that he could continue to train even more visually impaired people in his town.
His concern was that few visually persons, especially women were not being reached with vital information mostly because they could not afford transport from their homes to the training venue and back.
Hussein’s proposal was successful and there are now additional funds to reach a larger number of visually impaired persons.
HAPCO also agreed to support the production of HIV information and materials into Braille and audio as well as train divisional health workers on making HIV services such as information on HIV and Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) more accessible and reachable to visually impaired persons.
We are very proud to have among our peer educators such agents of change as Hussein!