Life a living nightmare for the handicap
MASERU- For women like Likopo Lesoetsa, who was born with deaf disability, life has been rather challenging, and but after she inherited eyesight disability life has been nothing but a ‘living nightmare’ for her.
Lesoetsa was born in 1974 in the District of Quthing. She later met her fiancé and they were married in 2013 now they are blessed with a daughter who is four years. Later in the years Lesoetsa lost her husband after a long sickness and in 2015, she developed eyesight problems which led to her blindness.
Before then Lesoetsa used to work as a volunteer at the National Association of the Deaf - Lesotho (NADL) and now life has changed from bad to worse for she cannot see or hear a sound. She relies on people to help her with many things that she used to do for herself.
Even though she is currently volunteering with Lesotho National Federation of people with Disability (LNFOD) her life has rather been deteriorating due to stress and anxiety. This is mostly caused by the challenges she meets, especially now that she is living with her in-laws.
Lesoetsa still has family but due to the fact that she was married to her late husband, she has to stay with her in-laws from who she relies for most of the things to be done and the little income she gets from the volunteer work does not get her far. She uses that money to subsidize in the needs of her four year child and the other family members she lives with.
“Even though I cannot see or hear anything, I still do some family chores. I wake up around 04:00 hrs in the morning and start preparing for my little girl to go to school and then afterwards I prepare myself to go to work,” Lesoetsa said through a sign language interpreter.
At the beginning of her blindness, she says, she couldn’t do anything as she had developed a lot of sicknesses because she could not accept that she had developed another disability while she was also dealing with the scars of being born deaf.
Lesoetsa on the other hand said that due to her being visually impaired is that she is currently meeting more challenges, especially with family members who she was hoping, would be there for her.
Describing her current state of affairs, she says her only hope is for a Good Samaritan who could help build a house of her own but at the same time, she would need a fulltime assistant who will help her with house chores.
During the celebrations of the International Women’s Day last week, Director of the Lesotho National League for Visually Impaired Persons (LNLVIP), ‘Mabataung Khetsi said the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) estimates that “close to two-thirds of the world’s blind are women” and the increased burden of vision loss is heavily related to negative attitude and discrimination against women and girls.
In the press release by World Blinds Union (WBU) on the women’s day the organisation said blind and partially sighted women and girls are more likely to be marginalized and disadvantaged than blind and partially sighted men and boys. WBU continues to say that blind women and girls are more likely to be discriminated against than sighted women and girls.
On average, the organisation says, they have less access to education, affordable healthcare services and employment opportunities. The organisation also says such people experience isolation at higher rates than blind or partially sighted men.
“This is true even within the blindness community. For example, most organizations of and for the blind are led by men, and there are far fewer female executives and board chairpersons,” said Khetsi.
At the same event Khetsi told the visually impaired or partially sighted women that they should work hard to accept their disability, which in turn, would help them to fight discrimination and challenges that they might meet in life.
She encouraged women to talk about their challenges with other people so that they could not bottle them up until they pose a challenge to their lives.
Another woman who spoke at the event, Malekola Kolisang (29) said she is also experiencing challenges with family as her in-laws were discriminating her and also making her life difficult because every time they reminded her that she is blind so she cannot do some of the things that others do, even for herself.
She said her husband is giving her problems when it comes to finances as he no longer gives her enough money and now she has realized that the love that she used to get from her husband has totally deteriorated.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) explains that blindness causes considerable social challenges, usually in relation to the activities in which a visually impaired person cannot participate. All too frequently, WHO says, blindness affects a person's ability to perform many duties, which severely limits his/her employment opportunities. This may not only affect a person's finances, but also his/her self-esteem.
“All of us working to defend the rights of blind and partially sighted people must also work to ensure that blind and partially sighted women have the skills needed and are offered the opportunities to take on senior roles within our own blindness organizations,” said Dr Penny Hartin, CEO of WBU.
“In my own case, as a Canadian woman with vision loss, I had access to education and was afforded the necessary opportunities, but many of these same opportunities are not available to women in the developing world,” she explained.
WBU calls for all of people to prioritize the rights of blind and partially sighted women and to work towards changing the negative attitudes and discrimination that blind women face daily. They must have full access to essential services, employment opportunities and to the vital information that they need in order to participate fully in all aspects of life, the same as everyone else does.