More than 224,000 people are affected by blindness in the country, however, most ophthalmological services in Kenya are centered in urban environments. To address the need for quality ophthalmological healthcare in rural areas, Embracing the World organizes regular medical camps, sending volunteer doctors to impoverished areas for on-site medical examinations and treatment.
The White C(r)ane Project is an awareness and fundraising campaign which aims to provide visual aids to blind children in Kenya. Matthias Höfeld, a member of AYUDH, our youth wing, conceived the project. Matthias was inspired by the work currently being done in Kenya by our volunteers and decided he wanted to find a way to participate.
Matthias has been blind since the age of 21. In Kenya, a cane costs a mere $12 USD. This amount, however, is beyond the reach of many people in Kenya, often adding up to several months’ worth of salary. But Matthias felt that in Europe, it wouldn’t be difficult to raise the funds to purchase canes for children in need.
As part of AYUDH’s annual youth initiative, Matthias reached out to fellow AYUDH members asking for their support in achieving his dream of making life easier for young blind people in Kenya. AYUDH members responded enthusiastically, and the White C(r)ane Project was launched. Through many small fundraisers, AYUDH members were able to raise enough for an initial 300 canes in two months.
In September 2014, AYUDH members handed over the first canes to students of the Thika School for the Visually Impaired. After the distribution, AYUDH members spent quality time with the students, taking a tour of the school, interacting with the children and learning the basics of Braille. As a thank you for the canes, the children performed a traditional dance by clapping, clicking and stamping the floor in succession.
The next phase of the project, to be completed January 2015, is to individually match a cane for each of the 300 children at the Thika school – based on each child’s height – before expanding to other locations throughout Kenya.