-As Bong County Visually Impaired Women Outline Challenges 

The pandemic has affected everyone, but it has been particularly tough for visually impaired people who usually get in the street to beg for daily bread.

A report by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) notes that two-thirds of visually impaired individuals feel they have become less independent since the start of lockdown. 

The report said such difficulty could harm their mental health.

It is believed that visually impaired individuals on many occasions experience loneliness at higher levels than the general population.

They are also more likely to suffer from depression and more likely to experience detrimental health outcomes as a result of self-isolation.

With the outbreak of the Coronavirus Pandemic affecting many sectors worldwide, the already begging visually impaired population of Liberia is experiencing greater challenges than ever in its existence

A huge percentage of the visually impaired in Liberia will have to usually visit street corners, various supermarkets/stores, entertainment centers and at times religious centers to beg to find food for their household.

Despite their conditions, many persons with disabilities are breadwinners for their families by the means of begging.

Our reporter took a trip to central Liberia, Bong County to ascertain the real condition of those who have lost their sights especially during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.

At that time, the government has intensified its 3 pm partial lockdown restriction; social distancing and the wearing of masks to contain the furthered spread of the coronavirus after Liberia recorded its index case on March 16, 2020.

Ma Tenneh W. Tokpah, Chairlady of the visually impaired women of Bong County, said the visually impaired community of Bong County is under immense stress, adding, “many of us are facing difficulties since the government announced the restrictions aimed at curbing this new virus.”

When questioned by The Stage Media (TSM) reporter about how is it for the visually impaired in the central region as since the Country is returning to normalcy, Ma Tenneh said, “due to the current challenges the economy faced, it is difficult for people to reach out to them stressing the need for government support and empowerment.

The Stage Media also with Ms. Josephine Dolo a 40-year-old visually impaired woman who usually walked from Sugar Hill Quarter four with the aid of a minor to the main Gbarnga Broad Street to tour several marketplaces, shopping centers and entertainment said, “at times we walk nearly the whole day from one location to the other, but people turn us down maybe due to the economic situation in the country.”

Ms. Dolo said “Some of them will tell me that they want to help but no way because they have no money.

“It was even terrible during the time the president and his government told us to be at home at 3 pm. The hunger nearly killed us, but God is to be praised.”

She said since the lockdown, the situation has become really bad for those who cannot see. 

“We will ask people to help but many of them if not all will leave us with nothing,” Ms. Dolo said disappointingly.

“I will have to stand in one location here on this same Gbarnga Broad Street asking for help for six to seven hours daily just to find food for me and my kids. She disclosed.

“Now as we speak, even though there is no lockdown, but still people are not helping us,” Ms. Dolo told TSM.

“They will tell you no money. And all we can hear from them is the country hard and things are tough. I think life was better before than what it is now with this whole virus thing. What else can we do?” She asked.

Speaking to TSM, Ms. Dolo narrated that she was not born visually impaired but due to conditions that have led her to live in darkness.

“Imagine my husband abandoned the two children with me in 2018 immediately when my condition worsened, and I could no longer see. I have to do everything in my weak way to find daily bread for us.” She explained.

“I am stranded and tired with life.” She said.

“The only thing I can say is that let people who are in authority try for us. Maybe they can find a solution to this whole virus and the economic problem so that we return to normal life.” She said.