Vocational training activities for visually impaired young people in Uvira continue. The aim is to offer these particularly vulnerable young people the possibility of integration through work. “Unfortunately, in this area of the world we have been living for decades in a state of conflict that especially affects young people and makes life impossible for those who are already in dire straits“. The project, promoted and managed by the RETINA Association, takes place in Uvira, in the south of Kivu, which, due to its geographical location, suffered the consequences of the first and second Congo wars and is still a victim of the terrible ongoing tribal wars.
“Over the years, the conflicts have destroyed everything: both the infrastructure and the socio-economic fabric, leaving many children orphaned and many adolescents abandoned, also causing a major rural exodus with serious consequences for the population’s food security“.
The city of Uvira is a strategic junction, being surrounded by precious mineral deposits (coltan and cobalt), and also for this reason it remains at the centre of continuous clashes.
“But the desire for peace is strong among the majority of the local civil society and peace is also built by eliminating poverty and marginalisation”. In fact, RETINA works in this direction, offering schooling opportunities to children and job training to the most marginalised youngsters, who suffer from even severe visual disabilities.
Available data estimate the number of visually impaired people in Congo at half a million, with blindness rates eight times higher than in the most advanced regions of the world. Basic care, even simple preventive care, is considered a luxury by people who often have serious survival problems, and most of them are unable to lead a dignified life due to the lack of services they need.
“We started the courses for the first 100 visually impaired young people, including 62 women and girls and 38 boys who had dropped out of school early due to complications related to eye problems. They have been divided into different areas of training, according to their individual choice: handicrafts, confectionery, small farm management, music”. The aim is thus to facilitate their entry into work, expressing their full potential.
The project started in 2022 and during the first phase, it was possible to provide the first 50 children with a good, adequate and inclusive basic education. The Association is also engaged at a broader level in defining political and educational strategies and actions to promote the empowerment of people with visual impairments.
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