Besides the discrimination and stigmatisation visually impaired people often face in society, many also experience abuse of their monthly social grants at the hands of their families.
This was raised as a growing concern by the Namibian Federation of the Visually Impaired (NFVI) as the number of people living with visual impairment increase in the country. The population of the visually impaired was reported in a 2016 Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) Disability Report to have increased from 13 721 in 1994 to 16 189 in 2011.
To date, the number of the visually impaired has increased to close to 20 000.
Hileni Shiimi, who is also visually impaired, said many similar people living with such disabilities face abuse when it comes to their monthly social grants. “Some of these visually impaired people are the breadwinners in their families. However, their social grants are misused by family members. Some of these members don’t even benefit from these social grants. The family members use it for their benefits,” Shiimi noted.
Executive Director of NFVI Moses Nghipandulwa echoed Shiimi’s sentiments regarding the abuse of social grant.
“We have become Bank Windhoek for them. If I get a N$1 000, this money will be used to pay for family members to buy food and pay for their children’s school fees and hostel instead of benefiting me,” he alluded.
He said they also face discrimination and abuse when they approach public or private offices for assistance, as some people ignore or refuse to assist them once they notice they cannot see.
Nghipandulwa also highlighted some of the success stories they achieved.
These include the rehabilitation and training programmes for the visually impaired to regain confidence and abilities, as well as to reintegrate them into society, the workplace and to live independent lives.
The federation also sensitises on human and constitutional rights of people living with the visually impaired.
“The federation is adding value to the psychological wellbeing of our members whose lives are shuttered. Once they are done with rehabilitation, their lives change and go back to their normal lives,” he said.