On Friday 15th October 2021 The Kenya Society for the Blind (KSB) celebrated the annual International White Cane Day at the Nyayo National Stadium. The theme of the event was; “#10KSights; Enabling Independence Among Persons With Visual Impairment.”
The event was flagged off by Nairobi Women Representative Esther Passaris and Cabinet Administrative Secretary of Education Mumina Bonaya alongside the KSB chairperson Angela Wambui and the Executive Director of KSB Samson Waweru. It started with a processional walk from KSB grounds at Barclay House along Mai Mahiu Road, off Lang’ata Road that led to the Nyayo National Stadium for other activities. The sighted were blindfolded alongside the visually impaired for a White Cane walk experience and everyone present had a guide to ensure maximum security. At the Nyayo National Stadium other activities prevailed including covid-19 vaccination, assessment and registration with National Council of Persons with Disability, IEBC voter registration, NHIF Biometric enrollment and Donation of assistive devices to 15 special schools from across the country that support learners with visual impairment.
Visually impaired persons are independent in their own way and the public should be sensitized on this matter. ‘When you see a person walking with a white cane around you, do not offer help unless asked. Instead, be mindful and give them the right-of-way. These people are well trained to use the white cane and they need their personal space respected,’ said Mr. Samson Waweru, Executive Director KSB.
At the event, KSB and Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) launched a joint project that involves providing Assistive Devices to primary school students around the country. ‘Assistive devices are necessary for the visually impaired children to interact with the world around them including educational material, making them instrumental in their attaining education alongside sighted children & students,’ said Rosemary, IRA representative.
In an attempt to educate the world about blindness and how the blind and visually impaired can live and work independently while giving back to their communities, the White Cane Day procession was led by Gusa Nafsi Band, a musical band made of persons with Visual Impairment; to celebrate the abilities and successes achieved by blind people in a sighted world and to honour the many contributions being made by the blind and Visually Impaired.
The event brought together the blind, visually impaired persons and sighted persons from schools, corporates, non-governmental and government agencies. Its purpose was to recognise the movement of blind people from dependency to active participation in society, and to create awareness of persons who use the white cane. KSB partners like UAP OLD MUTUAL , NGAAF, IRA, SafaricomPLC, NEMA, National Funds for People with Disabilities and the National Council for Persons with Disabilities donated white canes, while others donated in kind. All these acts of solidarity contributed to the success of the event and an actualization of the event’s theme; “#10KSights; Enabling independence among persons with visual impairment.”
There are several major causes of blindness/visual impairment; ‘uncorrected refractive error, cataract, age related macular generation, glaucoma, diabetic retinotherapy, cornea opacity and trachoma’. He was also quick to add that all these conditions were avoidable and manageable and that Kenyan citizens should be responsible with their eyesight by getting eye screening at least once a year.’ Said Dr. Gichangi, Head of Ophthalmic Services Unit at MOH.
The Kenya Society for the Blind is a statutory charitable organization whose primary mandate is to promote the welfare, education, training and rehabilitation of the visually impaired in the country and to assist in the prevention and alleviation of blindness.