QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER NO 4 – 2021
Welcome to the fourth quarterly newsletter of Gateway to Elation! Being December now, it is time to share the news that happened in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Gateway to Elation is an initiative of opening a gateway to the world for the blind. This is done by providing training in computer literacy and daily living skills; which include mobility and orientation, as well as social interaction. Gateway to Elation is located in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and it conducts its training programmes nationally and online.
Since inception, a total of 70 blind Zimbabweans have been empowered to take their lives in their own hands. These are the newly blind and those who were born blind and/or the ones who are in-between. Though the focus is on children and youth, adults are also considered.
In this edition of article of the quarter, we have a piece on the international disability day. Please find out more here.
WHITE CANE DAY
Gateway to Elation joined the rest of the world in commemorating the international white cane day on 15th October 2021. Our theme was:
Navigation to elation as a blind person made possible through the use of a white cane.
It was an event where we spoke about the value of the white cane to us as blind people. One of the most important factors which came about was the localisation of the repair and manufacturing of the white cane. Please find the full article here.
CONTINUATION OF TRAINING SESSIONS
In the fourth quarter of 2021, Gateway to Elation continued with face-to-face training sessions. They were conducted here in Bulawayo. Of note is Getrude Imbayago, who came all the way from Masvingo, 260 km away from Bulawayo. I shall share her story in the upcoming newsletters.
Though venues for training sessions are scarce, I continue to persevere with the few which are available to me. I am hopeful that a long term solution will be found soon.
FEATURE ELATION STORY: From fear to independence
Meet Samantha Ellen Katso, a 26-year-old blind university student from Bulawayo.
Samantha enrolled at the Gateway to Elation’s programme in 2017. (I started having pain in my eyes at the age of 18. They were itchy and piercing. I had periodic eye problems but this time around, it was more severe and painful.”
Samantha went to a doctor who prescribed eye antibiotics. It didn’t help. When her left eye became totally blind in addition to feeling pain in the abdomen, she went to a specialist.
“I did some tests and the doctor confirmed that I had a kidney infection. I was cured of the kidney infection but my eyes had already been damaged. I went to South Africa for further operation of my eyes but it only worked so much.”
Whilst Samantha was trying to understand what was going on, she went for counselling. She was informed that she was now blind.
“As I was trying to understand the situation, I lost friends. I imagined myself staying at home having wasted my time learning.
“I heard about Gateway to Elation when I was attending counselling sessions at the Zimbabwe Council for the Blind. After enrolling with the programme, I was introduced to blind computing, orientation, mobility and social interaction.”
Samantha is now enrolled at the Women’s University where she is studying psychology.
“I do my schoolwork on my own using the skills acquired during the Gateway to Elation’s training programme.
“When I became blind, I had no privacy since people were answering my phone and writing text messages for me. After the Gateway programme, I was now independent and outgoing.”
“I am now confident in myself and comfortable being blind because of mobility and orientation, computer literacy and social interaction!
GATEWAY TO ELATION IN THE MEDIA
Gateway to Elation was profiled by Valentine Muhamba of Techzim. Please find the article here. I was also interviewed by Tanaka Mrewa from the Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE). Please find the article here. Both were inspired by my winning of the Holman Prize for blind ambition. Please find the Holman Prize official presser here.
On behalf of Gateway to Elation participants, I wish to thank all donors who believe in this project. I have witnessed lives being changed for the better in mere weeks after participants joined Gateway to Elation training. I also wish to appreciate the vital role being played by Gateway to Elation board members and volunteers. They ensure the organisation is running smoothly by devoting their valued time and energy. The work we do depends on donations and in case you are in a position to support, you can do this via our website here.
Please do share this newsletter with family, friends, colleagues, and anyone else who is interested. Please stay safe and thank you for reading!
Happy Christmas and a prosperous new year of 2022!
Robert Malunda | Founder – Director | Gateway to Elation