On October 24, 2018, Rwanda Union of Blinds (RUB) together with its members and partners celebrated the International Day of the White Cane in Ndora Sector of Gisagara District in Southern Province, a day that is usually celebrated worldwide on October 15 but RUB chose to mark it on the 24th of October.
The day started with the white cane demonstration march (walk) to raise awareness on the role of white cane, and graced with exhibition of works done by people with visual impairment, goal ball demonstration, supporting people with visual impairment and speeches among others.
Persons with visual impairment and other inviteees in white cane demonstration march
Officials present and other participants in the ceremony appreciated the products made by the hand of blind people which include woven clothes, sound technologies that help blinds when using machines and even some of them have shown that they master the Braille readings. During the feast one of them read the Bible verses.
In the testimony, some blind people; members of RUB who have spoken for the occasion have shown that they are able to create income-generating activities but, like Mr. Hategekimana who runs a small shop after working on the distribution of drinking water in his neighborhood request the Rwandan Revenue Authority (RRA) to exempt them from taxes.
He narrated the journey he worked until he managed to build a house and bought a plot adding that he has also connected his house to the electricity grid.
RUB officials requested that International Day for the White Cane be celebrated all over the country in order to give it special attentions as other International Feast are celebrated in Rwanda.
“To date, only the Western Province has appropriately organized the International White Cane day celebration,” said Dr. Suubi Patrick, President of the Rwanda Union of Blind, requesting that each administrative district of the country should have an annual budget reserved for the white cane day.
Even though the government has done a lot for persons with visual impairment, it is clear that many persons with visual impairment find it very difficult to raise 25,000 Rwf (about $ 30) to buy the white cane.
“We wish that measures be taken to be able to buy it with the use of Health Insurances. We suggest that the White canes should be among the items payable by the Mutuelle de Sante, “said Mr Sévérin Ingabire, an adviser of the Board of the Rwanda Union of the Blind, at the ceremony giving the necessary importance to this tool.
Hon. Eugene Musolini, a member of the Rwandan Parliament representing sPWDs who was the guest of honor, promised to make a broad plea for the cause of the visually impaired people.
Musolini said that it is a necessity to put in place all means that will allow persons with visual impairment to enjoy their living conditions through facilitating them have access to education, health care, social development, among others.
Rwanda Union of the Blind (RUB) donated 10 white canes to 10 persons with visual impairment and Gisagara District supported a blind person with a cow during the celebration.
The event was attended by blind and visually impaired persons themselves, authorities and the population of Gisagara district, representative of government institutions, representatives of civil society organizations, representative of US embassy in Rwanda, representative of national commissions, member of parliament representing persons with disabilities, representative of southern province ,journalists of different media houses and many more.
The International White Cane day is celebrated on 15th October worldwide annually since the 1900s to mark achievements of blind and visually impaired persons and give them a special opportunity of enjoying the importance of the white cane as an independence tool.