Among the many assistive devices that the visually impaired use to make their lives easier, the white cane ranks quite highly. They are very crucial and yet not many who need them are able to get them due to affordability and accessibility. As much as we know that disability is not inability, there is also need to enable the less abled to live lives as close to normal as can be possible.
Safaricom has always worked with groups of people living with disabilities either directly or through partnerships with organizations that do. After the first ever Global Disability Summit in July 2018, the company began a white cane campaign as part of its Diversity and Inclusion agenda, which seeks to mainstream disability inclusion.
This week in partnership with AYUDH, Safaricom has started a drive to empower young people by distributing white canes worth Ksh. 30 Million to 20,000 blind and visually impaired persons across the country. AYUDH is an international youth movement that is dedicated to help young people to contribute to a peaceful and sustainable world.
The project will see 10,000 children and youth identified by the Kenya Union of the Blind (KUB) and Kenya Society for the Blind (KSB) receive white canes, while the Safaricom Foundation will distribute the remaining white canes to 10,000 blind and visually impaired persons as identified by AYUDH Kenya.
“Two years down the line, we are still delivering on our commitments at the Global Disability Summit, which are centred around elimination of stigma and discrimination, economic empowerment of persons with disabilities and facilitating the availability and affordability of assistive devices. Through such initiatives, we hope to reduce inequalities and ensure that blind and visually impaired individuals across the country have access to white canes to enable them to live and work with dignity,” said Paul Kasimu, Chief Human Resources Officer, Safaricom.
The Safaricom Foundation, which has distributed assistive devices to more than 5,000 children with visual impairments across over 50 schools in the last 3 years, will distribute 10,000 white canes across the country.
“We are glad to be part of this initiative to transform the lives of blind and visually impaired children and youth as it speaks to the foundation’s focus areas of health, education and economic empowerment. Our role is to deliver the white canes to areas where they are needed the most, we will rely on our strong community partnerships to reach those who are most in need and ensure that we leave no one behind,” said Joseph Ogutu, Chairman, Safaricom Foundation.
Safaricom’s white cane campaign also entails a registration exercise in partnership with the Kenya Union of the Blind (KUB) through USSD *678#. The exercise seeks to create a database of visually impaired persons across all 47 counties to help them get access to specialized government services.
The project will also see the Safaricom Foundation and Lions Club Huru donate food hampers to 10,000 visually impaired beneficiaries.