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Model for bridging the societal gap of understanding about blindness and extending hospitality to developing productivity among the blind.

Photo of Uchenna Okafor

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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

The core challenge of the blind in Nigeria is rooted in societal abandonment, social rejection, and misconceptions about managing blindness for productivity in human dignity. These are further complicated by increasing but widely neglected poverty, street begging in destitution and displacement, lack of emotional peace and access to opportunities trailing the blind in the country. Besides being worst hit during emergencies and insurgencies, blind persons are most vulnerable to sexual abuse in their extreme poverty and search for help. By their misconception of overall inability in blindness often shrouded in the dictates of different cultures in Nigeria, the society also erodes the blind the chance to contribute ideas towards their welfare and improvement. Appreciably, Nigerians are hospitable in meals for the blind, but do not know that it is easier and cheaper to nurture the productive capacity of the blind through hospitality beyond meals in an atmosphere of societal acceptance. Thus, my focus is improving the livelihood of the blind by bridging the societal gap of understanding about blindness through outreaches in communities, schools and other interest groups, besides introducing a hospitality model for converting the surplus empathy of meals for the blind into capacity development for them. Any advance request in the morning for dinner by a blind person from say 200 families in a religious, professional, or any other interest group in Nigeria can also return about 200 rations of meal in the evening. Since a ration may satisfy this need, harnessing the surplus into a micro-fund to be managed by the same group for developing the productive capacity of the blind without increasing the budget for them is part of this idea. For convenience, the said meals are to be monetized for operating this fund. Proliferation of such micro-fund across different communities and interest groups will over time take the blind off the streets as beggars and out of displacement.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

The focus for this idea is South-south region of Nigeria. Moreover, Nigeria is a country in West Africa and most populous in Africa at about 200,000,000 people. Although, there is no reliable information about the estimate of the total population of blind persons in the country, it is very common to see their deplorable condition on the streets of all the cities.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

The blind and the sighted populations in Nigeria are living in the extremes of psychic worlds apart about blindness; thus, resulting to destitution, displacement among other challenges for the blind. This model aims to bridge these pairs of understanding and connect the blind to an intersect of social inclusion, economic prosperity, human dignity, and emotional peace. Realizing the potentials of the blind through their resilience within societal acceptance is an asset for sustainable society.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

The societal misconceptions of blindness and their negative attitudes towards it, besides their psyche of meals as the best help for the blind are reasons for the deplorable livelihood of the blind in Nigeria. Whereas a section of the society approaches all incidents of blindness through the psyche of superstition, social rejection, some abandon the blind to avoid assumed waste of resources in their training; thus, destroying the bridge of social cohesion with the blind. Well, I have been labelled a wizard on many occasions for losing vision and my father openly discouraged all sources of financial support for my college education. But for my resolve to understand the underlying reasons for all these against the blind, withdrawal from and hatred for the society would have been the response. Interestingly, most Nigerians may offer meals to the blind, but misunderstand social integration and hospitality for developing their productivity as a sustainable option for improving their lives.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Besides social integration for the blind through community and school workshops, the entire society will understand how best to tame their hospitality and not increase their budget to boost the resourcefulness of the blind capable of eradicating their liability on the society. Engaging the resilience of the blind for productivity will be the end of destitution, displacement, and street begging for them in Nigeria. Thus, making other inclusions such as education, skills acquisition, employment, and credit for small-scale enterprises natural phenomena. Since personas for the project will include the blind and the sighted populations, continuous feedback and analyses of responses from served sighted and blind communities will be adopted for monitoring and comparing the actual with the expected outcomes throughout the project. These will provide timely corrections and adjustments in aligning to the central purpose of the project; besides adhering to the proposed methodology and budget.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

My experiences in vision-loss, stories from other blind persons, insight and opportunities for the blind are the inspiration for initiating this idea. In short, most members of blind community in Nigeria do not commence their potentials throughout lifetime due to artificial societal barriers, let alone fulfilling them. Besides rebuilding the human dignity of the blind, this model will overtime make them the masters of their lives through social integration and economic independence. Sure, these trio are the gateway to other forms of inclusions and unrestricted access to opportunities for the blind. So, nothing else could be more important to me than leading this change.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

The main calamity of the blind in Nigeria is resting the power to determine and decide their welfare and choice on the sighted population by many traditions, often subjected to different cultural misconceptions about blindness. Unfortunately, cultural allegiance is almost sacrosanct in formal and informal lives of many Nigerians, regardless of adopting global policies on blindness. Besides the societal assumption of meals as the best hospitality to the blind and their failure to cope with such liability, the importance of hospitality for productive development of the blind is still undermined in Nigeria. Thus, poverty, destitution and displacement of the blind are on the increase; worst of all, at this time that kidnapping, suicide bombing, militancy, terrorists’ attacks, and insurgency are holding sway in different parts of the country. However, the understanding to fix this appears not to be attainable in a normal situation of interaction in the society without special reorientation.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Nigerians easily support courses for the vulnerable persons with deep empathy, only where permitted by their cultures. So, the project will mainly begin at community level in collaboration with traditional institutions, schools, and interest groups. Again, there are multiple of businesses, celebrities, and public personalities to leverage on for continuity of this project at this time that corporate social responsibility is fast becoming fashionable in the country. Sure, borrowing the voices of musicians, footballers, public and movie personalities among others with passion for the blind can add vigour to this idea. Besides the resourcefulness of members in my team, partnering with related local charities is a reliable asset. Adding to the possible strength of about 200,000,000 Nigerians, I hope to engage in annual funding campaigns to reach interested entities some of which may use this for their social responsibility; besides leveraging on volunteers of human and material resources.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

The current stakeholders and members of my team are: Dr. Emmanuel E. Daferighe, Dr. Ikechukwu P. Nwakuche, Mrs. Udoka S. Okalanwa, and Mrs. Aniekeme U. Okafor; in addition to a team of blind persons who are members of this mission. Among other related organisations, I hope to partner with Vision Care Givers International and Special Education Center for Children with Special Needs, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Other

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Systems design: Solutions that target changing larger system

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Blueprint: We are exploring the idea and gathering the inspiration and information we need to test it with real users.

Group or Organization Name

Visual Impairment and Blindness Support Initiative

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Artificial societal obstacles in my vision-loss inspired me to incorporate a charity known as Visual Impairment and Blindness Support Initiative (VIBSI). Our mission is restoring dignity to the blind by promoting their economic independence and social integration. Among the trustees are Dr. Emmanuel E. Daferighe, Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, Director of Centre for Social and Environmental Accounting Research, Fellow of the Institute of Industrial Administration of Nigeria, and former Head of Accounting Department, University of Uyo, Nigeria; Dr. Ikechukwu P. Nwakuche, Fellow, of Nigerian Optometric Association, former Vice President of the association, former member of the National Executive Council of the Association, and my doctor before vision-loss; adding to two women with passion for improving the condition of the blind. Moreover, my vision-loss and membership of the blind community are more of strength than challenge for success in this mission.

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country


Organization Headquarters: City / State

Uyo / Akwa Ibom


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Photo of Joseph Ante

Great initiative Uchenna Okafor, I must commend your well thought out approach.

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