By Joe-Chintha Garises
KEETMANSHOOP, May 24 – The Southern Association of Visually Impaired (Savi) is a non-governmental organisation that is currently the only working and registered organisation for persons with disabilities (OPD) in Namibia.
Speaking to the //Kharas regional coordinator, Ricardo Diergaardt, he said that they don’t get funding from the government and are only funded by donors from overseas. The organisation caters for low-visioned persons as well.
“Basically, what we do is we identify and register persons with visual impairment, persons with low vision and totally blind people,” he clarified. “Physical disability is known as the number one disability in the country and then visual impairment.”
The main challenge that they face on a daily basis is to get the government to acknowledge that people with one eye, that is affected by the other blind eye, are also disabled. Savi has a service centre where they send the visually disabled persons to be trained to function on their own.
“If needs be, we send them to Windhoek where these people will get specific training where they can cater for themselves,” he added.
Students from this centre have even become state advocates, and some studied hospitality. There are currently two students from //Kharas studying at the service centre studying.
Diergaardt said Savi is busy with an advocacy programme for the visually impaired so that important information can be made available in braille, for example, the Namibian Constitution, the budget etc.
This should be done so that disabled persons can also be accommodated “so that they know their constitutional rights by reading it themselves”.
Although they do not get funding from the government, they still fall under the Office of the Deputy Minister of Disability, “but we do fall in with the programmes that they have,” he said.
Savi is currently working on a programme to advocate for albinism and to make people aware that albinism is also a disability as some albinos have low vision.
“People that are supposed to benefit from this office are mostly kept indoors and don’t know about this programme,” Diergaardt stressed. – Namibia Daily News
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