Nigeria: Dark night of the soul
In the most literal sense, the light in Joseph's world has gone out. Until very recently, he could see normally and live as an independent man, caring for his family, in his Nigerian village. Like many in his area, Joseph has wives and they, together with his 16 children, need him. Now, though, Joseph cannot see and there is almost no support in his little village for a blind man.
Joseph is victim to a terrible disease: Onchocerciasis, River Blindness, or 'Oncho' for short. It is carried by river worms which, once 'at home' in the human body, render a person sightless, sometimes as quickly as within one year.
Joseph's loss has not happened overnight. He began to notice his vision was blurred as he rode his bicycle to work. At the time, he had wondered why he hadn’t noticed pedestrians until it was almost too late. When he poured a drink during break times in his work, he was humiliated to see he was missing the cup. In his work as a stone mason, it became harder to focus on the line he was cutting. The blurring increased with each new month.
Finally, one morning, he awoke to find his sight had gone entirely.
"Joseph changed," others recounted. "He became very angry, often lashing out at people during village meetings, and using public places as a platform to vent his frustration."
In their village, few would know about Braille, or aids for those who are sight-challenged. No employment is available for those who are blind. There is no way for them to care for their families. "They just lie in the dust and, in some cases, wish they had never been born," observers tell us.
Crossroads has sent containers to this village to help care for some of the needs they battle.
We would like to combat the heartbreak of Oncho by:
- seeing medicine reach those at risk so they do not catch it. If taken regularly, the medicine will protect people from contracting Oncho. The tragedy is that, however, it is expensive and the villagers cannot afford it.
- shipping provisions that would make employment possible for those who have lost their sight.