Polska pomoc


Independence of Blind Child – work with Blind Children in Buhangija Center in Tanzania in the area of training independent and safe functioning

The situation of a blind child in Tanzania is very difficult, especially in rural areas, where the child is often left alone, chronically sick and hidden away from others. However, some of these children find their way to centres that provide them with primary healthcare, such as the Buhangija Centre located in the Shinyanga Region. This facility was originally established with blind and deaf children in mind, and only later also became a shelter for children with albinism.

Two volunteers, who have worked with blind children throughout their professional lives, travelled to Tanzania in order to support the teaching staff of the Buhangija Centre with their expertise in education for the visually impaired. The aim of their work was to support blind children in their preparation for independent living.

Independence of Blind Child – work with Blind Children in Buhangija Center in Tanzania in the area of training independent and safe functioning

The project was completed between 20 June 2016 and 31 December 2016. The volunteers resided in Tanzania from 17 August 2016 to 14 December 2016. They worked at the Buhangija Centre, commuting there from the Bugisi Mission.

The aim of their project was to support the blind and visually impaired albino children from the Buhangija Centre. The volunteers sought to restore children to full fitness through a programme of exercises to improve their general functional fitness.

The volunteers participated in the daily life of the centre, which provides accommodations for a total of 260 preschool and school-age children, including 177 albino children, 59 deaf children and 24 blind children.

Their time was divided between individual work with blind students, work with albino children and cooperative activities with the other children at the centre.

The volunteers provided training for the blind and visually impaired children to help them move independently and safely. They also provided assistance to help them adapt to independent living by using a variety of iterative remedial exercises, particularly cooperative and thematic play, which also developed positive social relationships among the children. The volunteers also included the deaf children in their work by organising classes for them, primarily for speech therapy.

All these educational activities were conducive to the improvement of the children’s fine and gross motor skills. Given the rich and diverse types of play the volunteers organised, all the blind, deaf and albino children were constantly active.

The volunteers shared their professional experience with local caretakers and teachers as well as with teachers of blind children. They also presented ways of teaching techniques for a blind person to walk with a cane and with a seeing guide, and of teaching the blind and visually impaired how to solicit the help they require.

The volunteers also created tactile teaching aids for the local laboratory for teaching the visually impaired and shared the skills needed to produce such aids with local teachers. The volunteers also used project funds to purchase other teaching aids for blind children and optical aids for visually impaired albino children. They also supported the Buhangija Centre with food and hygiene products earmarked for its child residents.

Independence of Blind Child – work with Blind Children in Buhangija Center in Tanzania in the area of training independent and safe functioning

Implementation of the project resulted in 24 children and adolescents aged 5 to 25 learning spatial orientation and becoming proficient in the use of a cane, thus allowing them to stay in touch with the world of those not affected by blindness.

Most of the children from the centre improved their fine and gross motor skills and learned to model objects, memorise their shapes, and participate in cooperative group play.

The six teachers and educators from the centre acquired new educational and remedial skills in the field of exercise activities with blind and visually impaired children, and learned a set of games and exercises aimed at developing spatial orientation and motor skills.

The centre acquired new equipment, as volunteers used project resources to buy teaching materials and aids for the blind and visually impaired, including canes, Braille paper, writing pads, and other materials and tools for Braille projects. The centre’s 15 Braille typewriters were repaired and dust covers were sewn for them.

As part of the educational initiative, the team developed an exhibition titled ‘Tutaonana kesho, see you tomorrow ...’ which presents an overview of the project. The exhibition was branded with the Polish Aid logo and is being shown on a regular basis in many places, thus presenting the scale of engagement of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this project. An exhibition leaflet promoting the project was also produced.