The Chairman of Council, Federal Nigeria Society for the Blind (FNSB) has thanked and called on corporate organisations, government, religious institutions and well-meaning individuals to donate towards upgrading the vocational training centre with more facilities to improve the learning environment for the blind.
The FNSB was established in 1955 and it is a voluntary non-governmental organization set up to rehabilitate and train people who go blind in adolescence or adulthood.
In his remark at the press conference to announce plans for the 70th anniversary of the organisation, the Executive Chairman of FNSB, Mr. Fusi Akinkugbe said that it has been 69 years of working hard to rehabilitate and educate those who go blind and have visual impairment in adolescence and adulthood.
Some executive council members and guests who attended the press conference include Vice Chairman, Executive Council, Mrs. Arit Tunde-Imoyo, Immediate Past Chairman, Executive Council of FNSB and former Commissioner for Education, Lagos State, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo and CEO, Crestech Engineering Limited, Gbola Sobande CEO, Ladybird Advertising, Mrs. Bunmi Oke along with some members of the management staff.
He said, “This is a category of people that many of us may not be familiar with, but they are there, and our vocational training centre for almost 7 decades has been in the forefront of their rehabilitation, education, and empowerment. We are also active in efforts to prevent blindness and visual impairment,” he added.
While still thanking previous partners, Mr. Akinkugbe stated that the sustainability of the organisation has largely depended on the support donors and partners have extended to it and the organisation still has needs in the areas of student sponsorship, operational expenses, equipment and resources.
According to him, “We need sponsorship for our students. It costs us a little over N1m per annum to train each student who is with us for a two-year programme. Yet we only charge N210,000 for full boarding and tuition which creates a huge shortfall that we have to fund through the support of donors.”
“We require support for the payment of our staff salaries. This could be for the monthly payment of the salaries of instructors in the Vocational Training Centre or administrative staff,” he revealed.
Equipment and resources needed are one Braille embosser, large volume printer, one Braille Translator, Easy converter software, computers- two laptops and 2 desktops and 1 operational vehicle, which run into a few millions in Naira and Dollars, equipment sourcing is majorly from outside of Nigeria.
He said, these items along with others will improve our effectiveness at delivering our services.
Speaking on the topic “counting down & celebrating 70 years of providing hope to the visually impaired”, Chairman, Board of Governors- Vocational Training Centre, Mrs. Ayopeju Njideaka said, “We are excited to be planning for the commemoration of the 70th anniversary FNSB, an organisation committed to advocacy, rehabilitation, and empowerment for the individuals facing visual impairment challenges.”
“Over the past seven decades, the FNSB has tirelessly pursued its twin objectives of rehabilitation and empowerment, making a significant impact on the lives of individuals who experience blindness in adolescence and adulthood (18-70) through the centre,” she added.
On the curriculum, she stated that to empower students economically and psychologically, they offer a range of skills acquisition programmes such as daily living skills, adire making, Cane Crafts, Bead and Nylon craft and Soap making.
Highlighting some accomplishments recorded by the centre, Mr. Akinkugbe said, “To date, we have trained over 3,000 blind men and women and some of our recent graduates are in tertiary institutions such as Universities of Nsukka, Lagos and Ibadan.”
“One is a teacher at Queen’s College, one is a broadcaster at Cross River State, another works at Federal Ministry of Health, not to mention Razaq Adekoya who works with Sight Savers International and Cyril Ojeme (who was present at the press conference) , has been employed as education officer by Lagos State Government. Others are entrepreneurs making things like beautiful bags, adire, cane baskets,” he concluded.