About eight years ago, Fanuel Hashiyana went to bed after watching soccer and when he woke up the following morning, he faced total darkness as he had within the blink of an eye lost his sight.
Hashiyana lost his sight due to diabetes retinopathy, a medical condition that he had since 1993.
At the time, Hashiyana a graduate in accounting from the University of Namibia (Unam) was employed as a group support services manager at John and Penny Group.
“I knew it could result into this,” said Hashiyana during an interview at his home in Okuryangava.
Similarly, Hashiyana’s wife, Mwangelwa Sinengele, 32, is also visually impaired.
Sinengele told New Era that she was born with poor vision while her elder brother who is employed at a local radio station was born completely blind.
Hashiyana and Sinengele have now been married for five years.
During a recent visit at their home, the couple individually move around their home without assistance. New Era met the couple on Friday when the Namibia Federation of the Visually Impaired (NFVI) was distributing food parcels to its members to see them through the lockdown.
After entering the yard, Sinengele brings chairs outside for the reporter and for husband to sit on while conversing outside. After a while, she invites the reporter inside for lunch.
Sinengele dishes out lunch for the family and she goes to bath as she was on her way out.
The couple shared their story.
Hashiyana said he met Sinengele at the NFVI in 2014 while attending a rehabilitation programme in mobility and orientation classes after losing his sight. Hashiyana was also taught activities of daily life, computer literacy, basic braille and entrepreneurship.
“We met at the centre at the beginning of 2014, I proposed, she said she is going to think things through and then came a positive response,” said Hashiyana, adding they dated for two years before they got married.
Asked how they assist each other at home, Hashiyana said there is nothing more to their relationship than what meets the eye. “We are just like any other married couple, there is nothing extra ordinary. We do the same chores,” he said.
Sinengele who is employed at NFVI as braille proofreader said she can cook, wash and iron.
“I can fry,” adds Sinengele, but of course, they have family members around their home to assist where possible.
Hashiyana said it was difficult in the beginning when he lost sight. He stated when he came to NFVI in 2014, they made things easier for him.
He recalls the second day going to the centre and asking a staff member to help him make a call but he told him they could not assist him. He was puzzled because they moved independently around the centre without any assistance.
“I asked if you cannot see, how do you come to work. They responded, ‘with a cab,’ it was strange for me because my brother dropped and picked me up,” said Hashiyana who said after going home that night he thought things through.
He felt he had an advantage because previously, he has been driving around Windhoek.
One day, he took a taxi alone to the centre for the blind.
“I was staying in Khomasdal and it was a long way to the taxi rank. I have seen the road. I knew the features along the road. I came with my cane at the taxi rank and got off at the centre,” stated Hashiyana who said from there he realised that he can do it too.
He added losing his sight affected his employment, firstly he went on sick leave from work since October 2012 and down the whole of 2013. He only resumed work in 2014.
But during 2017, his service was terminated after the company realised the salary was huge on them. He was given an opportunity as a human resources consultant.
But with Covid-19 outbreak, Hashiyana’s consultancy was also terminated, as a result he is unemployed.
Like Hashiyana and Sinengele relationship, another visually impaired couple Ambrosius Nangolo, (33) and Linea Petrus (26) have been dating for three years.
The two live together in the informal part of Okuryangava with Nangolo’s elder sister.
Regarding their relation, Petrus said, “we don’t take it as difficult. We take it as is. We got used to it. He is a bit independent, he can fetch water. He can move without a guide because he knows the place. unlike me.”
Petrus said she had a brain tumor that caused her to lose her sight in 2014. She said the tumor was removed with radiotherapy but another tumor developed last year again.
Petrus obtained 25 points in Grade 12 but she is enrolled with Namcol to improve her English, Biology and Mathematics. She said Namcol introduced braille books for visually impaired students. She intends to enroll for an office administration course with the University of Namibia (Unam.)
Petrus also underwent a rehabilitation programme at NFVI which she says taught her to be independent and read braille.
“It was difficult to accept that I am blind. But now I can weave baskets,” she remarked.
As for Nangolo, who hails from Epoko village in Okalongo, things are a bit difficult because he does not have a national document, hence he does not get a disability grant of N$1300 unlike Petrus.
Before losing his sight in 2016, he did tiling, painting and bricklaying. “He needs help to get national documents and to study further,” said Petrus who called on people to visit and assist
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