The blind to seek Govt. assistance
The Samoa Blind People’s Association (S.B.P.A.) is considering asking the Government to import canes into Samoa for blind citizens.
A member of the association, Fa’aolo Utumapu, told Samoa Observer that the association receives canes under an arrangement with a Danish citizen.
She said they were in the process of ordering canes from overseas but it was a difficult and long process, and depended on where the canes came from.
“At the moment it’s the mobility device unit at the Motootua hospital that are ordering some canes from overseas. However, the canes that are being ordered are not for blind people to use.”
“For me personally, I had never ordered a cane but it’s the people that I know that are travelling overseas that provide canes for me. But I know it is very difficult to order them overseas because it takes time to reach our shores,” she said.
The process involved in importing canes can be expensive, especially the import duty and often took weeks to get to Samoa, she added.
Ms. Utumapu said a major challenge facing the association and its members is that they do not have a donor who can organise for the canes to be imported.
“We don’t have a permanent donor that can provide canes for our blind people. It is good if it is available here in Samoa so that it makes it easier for us to get them.”
S.B.P.A. programme officer Sa Siilata said one cane cost US$70 which was equivalent to $140 tala in Samoa.
“The only canes that are available here in Samoa are sticks and that is very dangerous, because we cannot use that and we cannot shorten it as well.”
“But the ones we ordered from overseas it’s very useful because we can shorten them and it really helps us,” he added.
Another member of the association, Aria, described the cane as a “guardian” as it was his eyes and he will not be able to walk without it.
“It is when you have no parents or anyone to help us but this is my guardian. I can also say the cane is my eyes. Without the cane I will not be able to walk because I cannot see where I am going but the cane it can tell me where to go and where not to go.”
S.B.P.A. president Faatino Utumapu said people often took advantage of the blind, but they forget that a blind person has senses and can feel what is going on around them.