Kabul blind ask for support, not discrimination
But still, the teenager, a student in seventh grade at the Vocational School for the Blind in Kabul, does not feel he has a disability.
“I ask people not to call me blind, not to insult me or make me feel inferior. I urge the Ministry of Education to provide education opportunities for all blind people in the country.
“When people call me disabled, I get very disappointed.”
He said people who have disabilities not only face logistical difficulties getting around Kabul but tremendous social problems in society as well. “Two days ago, I was waiting at a bus stop with two of my classmates, but when the bus arrived, the ticket collector shouted out that we were blind and would not pay, so the bus drove off.”
There is also a lack of text books in Braille – the system of reading and writing that the blind use -- and too few schools for the blind in the provinces, he said.
Sheila Azizi, 25, another student at the vocational school in Kabul, also complained that there were not enough text books in Braille and about the attitude of society towards people with disabilities.
“When I was returning home from school with one of my classmates, I fell in a hole and hurt my leg. People who saw started laughing at me and that made me so upset, I even forgot about the pain in my leg.”
She said people should not laugh or discriminate against the blind, but help and support them.
Ehsanullah Fayaz, acting head of the Blind Association and a teacher at the vocational school, said people should behave better towards the blind and other disabled.
He said the blind faced many problems in society, and suggested that society treat them with respect, not call them names.
Fayaz criticised the Ministry of Education for not providing enough educational tools for the blind, such as Braille text books and special schools. He said there were only three special schools for the blind in the country, in Kabul, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif.
Mohammad Asif Nang, head of press at the Ministry of Education, said authorities had been working on a curriculum for the blind since 2010, but they were still waiting to print the books.
Another two schools for the blind would be built in Kabul and southern Ghazni province, he said, but did not say when.
According to him, there are about 1,000 students studying at the three blind schools in Herat, Kabul and Mazar.
Suraya Dalil, acting minister of public health, said there were about 400,000 blind people in Afghanistan and that the Ministry of Public Health had been trying to decrease the number through awareness campaigns and other activities.
Blindness in Afghanistan is often caused by childhood diseases that in many developed countries would have been easily cured.
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