52-Yr-Old Obudu Visually Impaired Centre Cries Out For Help, Says Students Dying Of Hunger

May 2, 2024 - 19:51
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52-Yr-Old Obudu Visually Impaired Centre Cries Out For Help, Says Students Dying Of Hunger

SPECIAL REPORT 

 From Judex OKORO

The management of St. Joseph Centre for the visually impaired Obudu, in Cross River northern senatorial district have cried out for help, saying the students are landguishing in harsh conditions.

According to the management, " it is becoming increasingly difficult to feed our students and take care of their essential needs and ,therefore, we may be forced to close down the center and send everybody home."

Recall that the St. Joseph Centre for the blind was established on May 21, 1972. It took of with seven students and four staff.

The Centre was under the management of the Medical Missionary of Mary (MMM) then but presently under the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus (HHCJ).

Findings by The Beagles News revealed that so far, the school has trained over 150 persons with visual impairment from across the country and beyond who can now compete favourably in all field of human endeavours.

The Centre also engages in community-based rehabilitation programme by reaching out to other physically challenged for vacational training.

The educational programme for the blind is based on braille reading through the finger typing, orientation and mobility (O&M). It also trains the students on the use of mobility canes to move on their own gracefully without any assistance and with reasonable freedom.

THE BEAGLE NEWS check was told that most of these programmes are no longer functioning because of withdrawal of foreign aids as well as suspension of monthly subvention by Cross River state government to the school since October, 2014.

In an exclusive interview with THE BEAGLE NEWS, the Directress of St. Joseph Centre, Rev. Sister Janet Okorie, said the managing these people with special need has not been easy especially with the withdrawal of foreign grants and subvention from state government.

Rev Janet said: "We have a total of 25 students. Our hostels are not in good condition. Feeding is a big problem because no funds available for the purchase of food items like garri, rice, beans, oil and other beverages. 

"We also need solar light and a generator. The school needs mobility as well. We are living in terrible conditions and afraid that we may be forced to close down and send the students away.

Lamenting their plight, she said: "The school needs financial assistance for upkeep of the students. We need material assistance such as braille machines, braille papers, laptops and mobility canes, slates as well as stylos."

According to her, the school has been surviving through the assistance from public spirited individuals and organisations, calling on political leaders, charitable organisations and the state government to come to their aid.