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Afghanistan: Darkness to light

Nuria’s struggle against the odds has been extreme, but her perseverance inspiring. Born partially sighted, her education was interrupted twice. When the Taliban banned girls’ education and when she eventually becoming completely blind.

Christian Aid partner ANAB in Afghanistan helped Nuria learn to read Braille

After four years of dark unhappiness at home, Christian Aid partner ANAB (Afghan National Association for the Blind) helped Nuria to learn how to read and write Braille. ANAB also facilitated her return to school. Now 25 and completing her education, Nuria is translating the Afghan constitution into Braille, so that other blind people can ‘know their rights’.

Due to a history of conflict, marked by internal warfare and invading armies, healthcare provision and public awareness about disability in Afghanistan is shadowed with prejudice and discrimination. The current war does not seem to be making things any easier.

‘Before I met ANAB I just sat at home all the time, I didn’t go anywhere. I was not going to school and was just left at home when the family went to weddings or outings. My family are not unkind, but people here assume that if you are blind then you cannot live a normal life.

However, in 2008 ANAB carried out a survey as part of an ambitious programme to provide training and support for blind people and to change people’s attitudes towards blindness.

‘They told me I was intelligent and I could live a normal life and should finish my education. They taught me to read and write Braille, and talked to my school to help me to go back. Now I’ve been back for nearly two years and I am so happy’, Nuria says.

‘I decided to help others by translating a portion of the Afghan Constitution into Braille. The part that I translated is about law and human rights. It says in our constitution that all the Afghan people have the same rights, able-bodied and disabled, men and women. I think this is important, and it’s important that blind people know about it. I think I am the only person doing this’

The Methodist Church in Ireland has supported Christian Aid’s programme in Afghanistan over three years. A three-year partnership cycle that started in 2010 will focus on Bolivia and Zimbabwe. Christian Aid acknowledges with gratitude the life-changing and life-sustaining change that committed support like this makes among the poorest communities where we work.

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