57 year-old centre for the blind to be rehabilitated by NGO
A non-governmental organization, Livelihood Support Initiative, has promised to rehabilitate the dilapidated 57 year-old Vocational Blind Training Centre in Bida, Niger State, to international standard. It was built in 1962.
Dr. Kelly Nwogu, head of the Initiative, who spoke to newsmen shortly after a tour of the centre at the weekend learnt that areas of urgent attention, which he said would be first phase of the intervention, included classrooms, hostels, administrative block and a staff quarters which are in a terrible condition.
He also promised to provide mattresses, beddings and tools to enhance teaching and learning at the centre, while also pledging to empower the trainees with the capital after the training programme.
Nwogu who recalled the painful memory of how he was raised as the only child of a crippled mother said: “If we don’t help them, their children will suffer and crime rate would increase”, stressing that poverty and disability lead to crime.
He said about N100 billion is being source by the Initiative to intervene in various projects across the country, aimed at empowering the disabled and the less privileged.
The philanthropist had earlier paid a courtesy call on the Etsu Nupe, Alhjai Yahaya Abubakar who enumerated the many challenges facing the centre as including a lack of adequate staff and training tools, lamenting that the institution has just one typewriter, which is no longer serviceable.
He also said that the centre has also witnessed encroachment by private developers who take advantage of lack of fencing to trespass.
He said most of the training could not fulfill their dreams of bettering their lives and those of their families by becoming productive members as they could not afford the perquisite capital to enable them put their profession to effective use.
He pledged his backing and that of his emirate for the organization’s plan to rehabilitate the center.
He pointed out that despite their disabilities, the inmates have exhibited great abilities in several art works.
“It is God that has ordained you to help ordinary people. A majority of these blind people are good in one handwork or the other but without financial assistance to carry them out. We are looking up to you to help them to improve their standard of living.”
He said the centre which had received inmates from many parts of the country in the past is now dilapidated due to long years of neglect.
The monarch pointed out that the Emirate at a point took over the responsibility of maintaining the centre when funds were not coming from government.
Taking Dr. Nwogu and his team round the centre, the traditional ruler disclosed that some individuals have been encroaching on the land and enjoined the organization to help with its perimeter fencing.
The renowned philanthropist in his response thanked the royal father for the reception accorded him, stressing that he had always been moved by the plight of disabled persons.
He remarked: “My mother was a disabled person, in fact a cripple. She struggled to bring me up to become what I am today with the help of some people.
“If those people had not helped my mother, I probably would have become a criminal under the pretext that my mother was a cripple. This is what inspired me to lend a helping hand to people with disabilities.”
He particularly expressed delight at the efforts being made by the inmates to prove that there is ability in disability, promising that within the next one week, work would commence on the centre to show the level of his organization’s commitment in rehabilitating it.
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