The way they see it: helping people with visual impairment

Most people take their five senses for granted. But when one of them is missing, people’s life is turned upside down. Eyes are by fact one of the most important part of the human body. They not only allow us to see the beauty around us, but also take care and protect us from danger. Thanks to our sight we are capable of crossing the street when the light is green or we can cook something without cutting or burning ourselves. But some people don’t have the privilege to see the world around them.

These people often rely on organizations which help them go easier through their lives. Ion Podosu, the president of the Association for People with Visual Impairment in Cluj says that: “According to statistics, by the end of 2018 there were around 1.800 members from Cluj County in our organization. Most of the members are old people. Some of them pass away as the time goes by, so we cannot give an exact number of members.”

If taking into consideration that in Cluj 1.800 out of 2.300 people with visual impairment are part of the organization, it is easy to understand that the impact of such an organization is really strong. People tend to become part of an organization because it guides and helps them on a daily basis.

“We guide people on how to go to public institutions where they have to claim their rights. Also, until the end of 2018, our organization was in charge of giving the tickets for public transportation to people with visual impairment. But ever since the government set the new rule that people have to go directly to the government for the tickets, it became harder for people with visual impairment to obtain them. Now, for obtaining special tickets for public transportation, people have to write a request and wait for it,” says Ion Podosu.

Being a member of an organization is not only about getting help, but also having fun. To make the life of people with visual impairment more interesting, the association organizes lots of activities and competitions. 
“We also organize different competitions, for example “Braille books friends”,where the participants are given questions based on the bibliography they have to read about a historical event or maybe a remarkable person. Also, we have different musical and sports competitions,” adds Ion Podosu.

Besides competitions, the organizers also try to bring all the memberstogether for small meetings where they can talk and enjoy their time. Usually,the meetings are held during holidays, where members are invited for a dinner.But not only holidays are a reason to meet, because trips to locations such asBăileFelix, a resort in the Western part of Romania are organized as well.

Of course working with people with visual impairment is not easy at all, and many difficulties and barriers can appear along the way.

“Our primary goal is to integrate people with visual impairment into society, but doing this becomes harder and harder. Many students who have just graduated from university are unable to find a job and we have to help them do it. Another problem would be the streets, because people with visual impairment cannot move freely. But, to be honest, in comparison with other cities, Cluj has done a pretty good job in making its streets more accessible. We also provide help to people who started losing their eyesight as they weregrowing up. I would say that this is the hardest category of people to work with, because they have to learn to live and perceive the world again. But we try to make them adapt faster,” – explains Ion Podosu.

An important thing we should know about these NGOs is that everyone cancontribute with small donations, which can change someone’s life to the better.One of the easiest ways to donate money is to redirect 2% from your salary tothe NGO. You can find more information here. Let’s not forget about the ones who were less lucky and help them.

Ana Zastolnitcaia

Ana Zastolnitcaia