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Edited by Cameron Baer

This is the first of twenty anonymous testimonies collected in the Eastern Region from blind interviewees in February-March, 2018.

“I was at Sefwi when I first experienced trouble with my sight. Visits to a number of hospitals quickly confirmed a diagnosis with glaucoma. Despite efforts to combat the illness, it was not long before I was completely blind.

As owner of a cocoa farm and father to several children already advanced in life, the consequences my blindness were not as debilitating as for some. I am not burdened with the need to support a large family, most of them having already moved on with their lives, and the cocoa harvest brings in sufficient monetary support. Even so, the effects on my lifestyle have been acute and difficult. I am now entirely dependent on one of my children, whether it be dressing, bathing, or leaving the house; once an avid traveller, the farthest I travel now is to my farm, or to the hospital for medication.

Despite my abrupt turn of fortune, I am able to “live together in harmony” with my community members. I have never been referred to in a derogatory manner related to my condition, and many in my family and the community show concern and care for me. If my own child cannot look after me, children in the community will do so, and local friends will call on him occasionally.

While I have not suffered any overt discrimination, my relationships with my community and family are nevertheless mixed, as a more passive sense of apathy colours my situation. My family, while not inconvenienced by my condition, do not consider it their responsibility, aside from occasional visits. I am also hesitant to speak about my situation with the community. I once shared his feelings with select friends in my local church, but even this emotional outlet has closed as of late.

I simply wish not to bother anybody with the challenges of my condition, physical or emotional. I rarely leave the house, and I have never asked for assistance from any community or government institution; even after government support payments dried up, I refused to raise his voice, in spite of my feelings on the matter. I don’t seek employment outside of my farm. How can someone who is blind work? How on earth is the person going to get a job?”

I do not expect anything from my community, a feeling that is apparently mutual.

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