Perceptions of visual impairment are starting to change thanks to a weeklong demonstration event of Dialogue in the Dark workshops in Rwanda.
Participants spent two hours going through a series of team challenges in complete darkness with the assistance of visually impaired/blind trainers. As the workshop unfolded, more challenges surfaced, testing and stimulating the participant to be increasingly innovative and imaginative. In the process, participants moved out of their comfort zones and began to explore their undiscovered leadership, communication, organizational and crisis-management skills.
Many of the participants said it was not easy to walk or drink in the dark, but through the guidance of the visually-impaired facilitators and working together as a team with strong communication, they managed to complete their activities. The loss – even though temporary – of the key sense of sight, has an intense and long-lasting emotional impact on individuals and groups.
This initiative is important as visually impaired people experience high levels of poverty and isolation in Rwanda. The workshop serves as a reminder of how everyone can participate, regardless of whether they have an impairment.
It is also an important income generating initiative for persons with disabilities, providing employment and skills training. The workshops were run by National Union of the Disabilities’ Organizations of Rwanda (NUDOR) in cooperation with National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) in October 2014. The next step of the Dialogue in the Dark initiative is to set up a permanent centre and social entreprise so workshops can be held on a regular basis.
The NUDOR Executive Secretary said,
‘This project is divided in two parts: changing the mindset of the community, and creating job opportunities for people with visual impairment. We want to senzitinze the community about visual impairment. The next step will be to establish a permanent Dialogue in the Dark centre. I would particularly like to thank CBM, Dialogue Social Enterprise, GIZ for their support in setting up the workshop.’
The Executive Secretary of National Council of Persons with Disabilities said,
‘This project will help us in terms of job opportunity for people with disabilities especially those with visually impairments.’
The National Union of Disabilities’ Organisations of Rwanda thanks the Dialogue Social Enterprise, the National Council of Persons with Disabilities for their partnership and GIZ and CBM for their financial support to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. You can follow the progress of Dialogue in the Dark Rwanda on Facebook.