Annual Activities Carried Out in 2009
SUMMARY OF ACTIVITIES
The Liberia Christian Association of the Blind (CAB) Inc. was established in April 1985 as an advocacy organization for the poor blind citizens of Liberia. In an effort to ensure the provision and equalization of opportunities to basic social services for the blind in Liberia, CAB undertook several program activities during the year under review to realize such dream. These activities include:
- a) CAB participates in the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission;
- b) Visit of American Missionary to Liberia;
- c) Three days visit of Dr. Elly Macha, Executive Director of the African Union of the Blind (AFUB), along with President of Zone 1 Mr. David Okun to hold meetings with the leaders of both CAB and LNAB;
- d) CAB's Education and Rehabilitation program benefits from a donation of a Toyota Land Cruiser 4X4 and a Hartz Generator;
- e) CAB's National President pays one-week assessment visit to Voinjama, Lofa County;
- f) CAB's National President meets with the President of Liberia;
- g) US Ambassador graces occasion marking the 14th Integration Exercise of the National Resource Center for the Blind;
- h) President of Liberia visits the National Resource Center for the Blind;
- i) CAB receives a 20ft. Container;
- j) CAB undertakes the expansion of its Agriculture Program;
- k) AFUB Youth Workshop held in Liberia;
- l) CAB hosts AFUB HIV&AIDS workshop at National Resource Center for the Blind as Grass Root Training is Launched;
- m) Re-opening of CAB's National Resource Institute for the Blind;
- n) Celebration of World White Cane Day;
- o) Dedication of Kakata Rural Training Institute for the Blind;
- p) Visit of the US Ambassador to CAB's Buchanan Branch;
- q) CAB joins DPO's to Commemorate of the International Day of the Disabled;
- r) Youth of CAB participate in Disabled Youth Workshop as Government of Liberia undertakes road construction at the National Resource Center for the Blind;
ANNUAL ACTIVITIES OF CAB
The Year began with the relocation of our Association to a new facility situated on a four-acre of land along the highway leading to the Roberts International Airport, about 25 miles south of Monrovia and a mile away from the Atlantic Ocean.
The establishment of the National Resource Center for the Blind is a new development envisaged many years ago by our founding leader, which is now being realized in the 21st Century in fulfillment of the vision and mission of CAB.
This development has rekindled our commitment to work for the common good of the blind and visually impaired in Liberia. We are delighted and proud to have a place we can call our own.
The property is one that every Liberian blind and non-blind alike is proud to visit and no one has ever visited it without being impressed with our work. In the words of our National Leader, Mr. Beyan G. Kota "this is the promise land for the blind given to us by God for the Blind to discover and rediscover their own human values and resourcefulness. It is a place where the blind shall attain knowledge and acquire skill for self sustainability and social inclusion".
Moving from the city center to a new venue was a hard decision to make. Even though having a place of our own was seen as a bigger achievement, we still felt the need to maintain a presence in the city of Monrovia.
For many years, CAB has influenced political decisions in favor of the blind and partially sighted of Liberia. This can be largely due to our organized advocacy activities.
The close proximity of our headquarters in Monrovia at the time to the seat of Government also made a significant impact in influencing political decisions and attracting economic support.
After nearly 15 years of activism in Monrovia, we were now constrained to migrate to the outskirt of Monrovia. This was in a wake of global economic crises, which has now robbed us of external support from our oversea partners the Danish Association of the Blind. DAB had in the early part of 2008 informed us of its financial incapacity to continue to support CAB owing to the global financial downturn.
For this reason, we were left with no other alternative, but to abandon the one storey building being leased by us in Monrovia.
By mid-January 2009, we had now moved all of our office equipment and supplies to the new site and our education and rehabilitation program, which had been operating for the past 16 years, was now active again and it had recorded 28 as enrolled students at the new site.
At the same time, our Vice President, Mr. Victor Gaigaie and two other officers had been awarded scholarships to study in India at the International Institute for Social Entrepreneur (IISE) for a period of 12 months January to December 2009. As the three were departing Monrovia in pursuit of further studies, CAB was undertaking a pilot project on the development and management of Poultry, which was funded by the US Ambassador Self Help Project.
Amb. Linda Thomas Greenfield, US Ambassador accredited to Monrovia, who has become a friend of CAB, was for the first time visiting the CAB National Resource Center for the Blind to launch the project.
The project started with 600 day-old chicks, 450 broilers and 150 layers and has also provided income to the sustainability of the project and secure minimum support to other activities of the organization.
Out of the 450 birders, we encountered 37 mortalities and 113 were sold at US$ 6.00 for a five pound life chicken. Out of the sales, we accrued the amount of 678.00 USD.
For the layers, we recorded 24 mortalities and 126 continued during the life span of the project and since May 2009 to present, we have collected 280 trays sold at US$ 5.00/ tray. We received a total of 1,400.00 USD.
There were enormous benefits accrued from these activities to CAB. This report highlights summaries of these activities.
•a) CAB PARTICIPATES IN THE LIBERIA TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION HEARINGS
In an effort to guarantee hearings from people with disabilities in Liberia, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) deemed it important to afford individuals with disabilities the opportunity to tell their stories and/ or experiences, which might have affected them during the period of civil conflict in Liberia from 1979 to 2003.
The Hearings, which took place at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion located on Ashmun Street in Monrovia, Liberia, brought together organizations of and for the disabled.
Appearing before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on January 18, 2009, the President of CAB, who is also President of the Union of the Disabled, Mr. Beyan G. Kota started up by commending the TRC for affording people with special needs a fair share of the truth at the Commission's hearings.
He began his paper by highlighting the challenges faced by CAB during its formation in April 1985 and further stretching out to the 1990's during the years of projected civil crises. Exacerbating this already worse situation was the attempt by some agencies of government to discredit the leaders of the blind and subject blind people to dependency.
This was however surmounted by the association's new strategy of advocacy and lobbying, which led to its incorporation by an Act of National Legislature in 1993. This has paid off positively as the conditions of the blind have begun to change tremendously.
Mr. Kota also noted that as President of the Union elected in September 2003, the need to promulgate new legislations to protect the rights of the disabled was apparent. The struggle of the Union to some extend succeeded in securing the establishment of the National Disabilities Commission in Liberia and protecting the rights of the disabled to education.
After an hour of presentation at the TRC hearings, Mr. Kota was thanked and asked series of questions by the panelist of Commissioners. This lasted for about thirty minutes; followed by other testimonies and then finally, the hearing came to a close at 5 P.M.
b) VISIT OF AMERICAN MISSIONARIES, MR. AND MRS. GUILLERMO AGUIRRE TO LIBERIA
On the 30th of January 2009, we received from the United States of America Mr. Guillermo Aguirre along with his wife Mrs. Victoria Aguirre who lives in the Republic of Mexico two missionaries and trainers in carpentry and tailoring respectively.
During their stay at CAB's National Resource Center for the Blind on the Robertsfield Highway they were involved in training blind and partially sighted students basic carpentry, tailoring and livelihood skills.
The visit was upon an invitation extended them by Mr. Kota when he visited the United States of America in July of 2008.
Mr. Guillermo Aguirre, a professional carpenter and Mrs. Victoria Aguirre a professional seamstress were also involved with providing Christian education for the spiritual growth of the students and taking care of the blind kids.
After two months of building the capacity of the blind student in carpentry and tailoring blended with gospel teachings, the missionaries were now set to return.
At their farewell party organized by the leadership of CAB, Mr. Kota expressed how elated members of the organization were to the missionaries for taking up their time and finance to visit Liberia and share their skills and experience as well as the love of God with the blind citizens of Liberia. He further said that they will remain forever grateful to them for it is hard to find people who will travel miles across the Atlantic to make such sacrifices.
With tears in everyone eyes, the missionaries finally departed Liberia on the 30th of March with hope to return and continue their work.
•c) THREE DAY VISIT OF DR. ELLY MACHA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE AFRICAN UNION OF THE BLIND (AFUB), ALONG WITH MR. DAVID OKUN, PRESIDENT OF ZONE 1 TO HOLD MEETINGS WITH THE LEADERS OF BOTH CAB AND LNAB;
The Executive Director of the African Union of the Blind (AFUB) Dr. Elly Macha and AFUB Zone 1 President Mr. David Okun visited Liberia from the 23-29 of April among other things to hold meetings with leaders of both CAB and LNAB to discuss ways and means of strengthening collaboration between the two organizations.
Also forming a part of the delegation were AFUB Youth Coordinator Madam Nadia Gouy and Madam Sally Nduta, HIV and AIDS Coordinator of AFUB.
The goal of the visit was also to follow up on the youth project (KDDP and AVIYEP) and introduce the HIV/ AIDS project.
The first day of meeting, which took place at the National Resource Center for the Blind on the Robertsfield Highway brought together executives of both CAB and LNAB. The AFUB Executive Director presided over the meeting.
After the welcoming remarks of Mr. Kota as host of the meeting, the persons in attendance introduced themselves and the Executive Director then give a brief background of AFUB.
Both presidents were asked to provide a historical background of their respective organizations, with a focus on the mission, vision, and objectives of each organization after which the Executive Director noted that both organizations share much in common and that there are good prospects for collaboration and partnership rather than rivalry and endless bickering, which only harms the cause of both organizations.
After brainstorming on ways and means of strengthening collaboration between the two organizations, it was agreed that an eight-member Joint Oversight Committee be formed. Each organization was to be represented by four members.
The National President of CAB was elected as chairman of the committee and the terms of reference of the Oversight Committee were reviewed and it was agreed that LNAB would choose a youth project coordinator, while CAB would choose a coordinator for the HIV/AIDS project.
The meeting to discuss the implementation of the HIV/AIDS project took place at the CAB's Center for the Blind on April 29, 2009. Participants in this meeting represented the board, women's and youth committees from both organisations.
The HIV/ AIDS project and the youth workshop were discussed during the second day of meeting. The HIV&AIDS coordinator give an overview of the project commenting on the methods of implementation, reporting and monitoring etc.
At the end of the meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between AFUB, CAB and LNAB.
•d) CAB EDUCATION AND REHABILATION PROGRAM BENEFITS FROM A DONATION OF A TOYOTA LAND CRUISER 4X4 AND A HARTZ GENERATOR
CAB in March received as a donation from the United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) a 4X4 Toyota Land Cruiser and a Hartz Generator. The donation came as a result of an appeal made by CAB's National President, Mr. Beyan G. Kota.
Having considered the level of work currently being carried out by the Association for the social advancement of the blind and visually impaired and in effort to further enhance the expansion of CAB's activities through out the country, the authorities of the UNHCR deemed it quite necessary to donate to CAB the Toyota Land Cruiser and the 15 KVA Hartz generator.
•e) CAB'S NATIONAL PRESIDENT PAYS ONE-WEEK VISIT TO VOINJAMA, LOFA COUNTY
In response to an invitation to dedicate an office facility of the Lofa County Disabled Association of the Disabled, Mr. Kota traveled to Lofa which is 900 kilometers away from Monrovia and located north of Liberia for seven days. During his visit to Voinjama, he visited four districts to get acquainted with the situation of the blind and disabled in general in the area.
At the end of the visit, the mission was accomplished leaving a branch of the disabled established in that part of the country with skill training activities for the blind currently on the way.
•f) CAB'S NATIONAL PRESIDENT MEETS WITH THE PRESIDENT OF LIBERIA
The meeting with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was a response to an appeal made by Mr. Beyan G. Kota, President, Liberia Christian Association of the Blind, when the President of the Nation visited the United Pentecostal Church located in Sinkor during one of the church's regular worship services in June, 2009.
During his visit with the President, Mr. Kota presented to the President of Liberia, a copy of the recent decision reached at the Two (2) Days stakeholders meeting of the Disabled People Organizations (DPO's) held under the umbrella of the National Union of Organizations of the Disabled in Liberia to which Mr. Kota is also serving as current President.
The document included several resolutions such as the Presidential Appointment of the Executive Directors and Corps of Officials to the National Commission on Disabilities. Also contained in the resolution, was the establishment of a Bureau of Special Education to be set up within the Ministry of Education and the appointment of an Assistant Minster to head the Bureau along with three (3) Divisional Heads; all aimed at mainstreaming the education of persons with disabilities within the National Educational Curriculum of Liberia, the creation of employment opportunities for persons with disabilities and increase in the national budget for the operation of the National Commission on Disabilities in Liberia.
In addition, Mr. Kota highlighted the participation of persons with disabilities in the national decision making process, something, he said will ensure disabilities involvement in Liberia's Poverty Reduction Agenda and further ensure a share of state resources to lift the disabled out of poverty.
In response, the President, consented to the appeal and promised to issue orders to her superintendents of all the 15 counties/ provinces of Liberia to facilitate the participation and representation of persons with disabilities in the country's development plan.
The President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf cautiously committed her government as in her words. She emphasized that the current National Budget for the fiscal period, 2009/2010 was already passed by the House of Representatives and awaited concurrence from the House of Senate to be approved thereafter by her. It is only when the approved budget gets to her desk, that she will find some clever means to make additional increment to the Commission's budget.
•g) 14TH INTEGRATION EXERCISE OF CAB NATIONAL RESOURCE INSTITUTE FOR THE BLIND
The National Resource Institute for the Blind on the 12th of July held its 14th Integration and Closing Exercise at which time three blind students were integrated into the mainstream school system.
The program, which was the first of its kind since the relocation of the school to the Roberts International Airport Highway was graced by permanent personalities.
Serving as Guest Speaker was the Assistant Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Gender and Development Mr. Jerolinmek M. Piah, who lauded the Association for its hard work in developing the minds of the blind, and committed the Ministry's support to the education and rehabilitation of the blind especially women.
Making remarks at the program was the United States Ambassador accredited to Liberia, Amb. Linda Thomas Greenfield, who was for the second time visiting the center. She expressed with tears how impressed she was by the performance of the blind kids performing skates, giving speeches and reciting recitations. She further said she had never in her life seen what she was seeing and in her closing statements made reference to the campaign message of President Barrack Obama admonishing the students that Yes, they can.
The program finally came to a close with tears in the eyes of parents and guardians, who were moved by the splendid output of their children.
About five scholarships were awarded to impressive students by some of the special invitees, which included the Ambassador and the Assistant Minister.
•h) PRESIDENT ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF VISITS THE NATIONAL RESOURCE CENTER FOR THE BLIND
On Saturday, the 18th of July 2009, at about 2:36 PM, the Presidential Guards arrived as an advanced team and took position on the main campus of the Center.
At About an hour later, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf arrived heavily guarded by State Securities. We had formed a line at the center of the compound. Included in the queue, were officials of the Liberia Christian Association of the Blind and some officials of President Sirleaf's government from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Her vehicle stopped right before us, and there the President disembarked. She greeted Mr. Kota and Executives of the Association. Her first comment to him was "I can see that you have a big operation going on here for the blind". He replied, "Yes, by the grace of God".
In the main auditorium of the Center, the President took about eleven minutes to speak to us. She encouraged us to continue the progress of the Blind in Liberia and promised to honor all of the appeals we made.
Among the many promises the President made were the construction of a street from the main highway to the National Resource Center for the Blind and the provision of medical practitioners to render the Center's clinic operational at the center for the blind, salary for the workforce, keep the Braille Press functional and serviceable to the Blind in Liberia, supply food to sustain students at the Center for the Blind and provide additional funds for the expansion of the poultry project.
She also requested the Center to place her amongst the list of customers for the weekly supply of eggs to her home.
At the end of the program, the President took additional forty-eight minutes to tour the four acre Resource Center for the Blind. The tour took her to the six class rooms, the student dining hall, dormitories, the pig pen, the poultry house, the Braille Press, the clinic and the offices of the Association's National President.
At about 6: 46 P.M., the President and her entourage finally boarded their vehicles and left the Center with memory in our minds.
•i) AFUB YOUTH WORKSHOP HELD IN LIBERIA
In continuation of the AVIYEP project, the African Union of the Blind conducted a youth training workshop from the 31st of August to the 4th of September 2009 at the School for the Blind in Mango Town, Virginia.
The objective of the workshop was to develop the talents and build the capacity of the blind and visually impaired youths in Liberia to become successful and innovative leaders.
Present at the workshop were the Deputy Director of Christofel Blinden Mission and President of the Federation of Liberian Youth both of whom were given the opportunity to make few comments.
Mr. Joseph Walugembe was sent from Uganda by AFUB to facilitate the AVIYEP youth workshop upon a letter of invitation from CAB.
Making remarks at the opening of the workshop, CAB's National President Mr. Beyan G. Kota and Chairman of the Joint Oversight Committee of CABLNAB, started by conveying the unfortunate news of the death of the general secretary of the National Disability Union of Liberia. He particularly underscored the participation of blind women saying there was an international agenda to increase the participation of blind women in activities of the organizations and society as a whole;
He urged the youth to use the skills to take their rightful place as the mantle of leadership will be turn to them. Kota also facilitated few topics and talked of a ‘visionary leader' being the one who works himself out of leadership, and thus urged the youth to prepare to take up the leadership roles.
The foreign facilitator in person of Mr. Walugembe asked participants to each state one important lesson from the previous phase. Some said the importance of planning and budgeting before implementing any activities - others agreed that a leader should not enforce decisions on his members (consultation and effective communication) etc.
The next couple of days of the workshop that ensue, key topics like Advocacy, Domesticating the U.N Convention, and combating challenges and errors that occurred during the implementation of the youth action plan during the first phase of the project were discussed.
At the end of the workshop it was endorsed that there should be a follow-up workshop for ten visually impaired youth (two from each of the existing five organizations of the visually impaired in Liberia. The workshop will be facilitated by four of the AVIYEP trainees. The content will be selected from among the topics so far covered during the two phases of AVIYEP. It will be a one day workshop, date and venue to be agreed later.
20 blind and partially sighted persons participated in the workshop. Ten from CAB and Ten from LNAB with gender balance fully observed.
Mr. Walugembe finally departed the country on the 4th of September, 2009.
•j) CAB UNDERTAKES THE DEVELOPMENT OF AGRICULTURE PROJECT
The Association entered a Memorandum of Agreement with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on the 1st of September, 2009 to undertake a Six-month Livelihood Project for the Blind aimed at improving the conditions of the blind and visually impaired in Liberia by establishing intervention programs that will undertake income generating activities for institutional capacity building and sustainability of its programs.
Having received a check of US$ 17,481.64 (Seventeen Thousand Four Hundred Eighty One Dollar Sixty Four Cents), constituting funds for the first phase of the project, the National Executive Committee immediately constituted a three member committee headed by the Association's Farm Manager, Mr. James F. Woih. The committee in turn entered a contractual agreement with the Sunshine Wood Workshop Inc. to commence the construction of the Poultry House 45ft. by 60ft.
After nearly 3 months of activities, the Association through its National President wishes to report the following:
- Ø Completion of the construction of the Poultry House (45ft.X60ft) with roof complete and door installed
- Ø CAB also wishes to report the cultivation of its swamp land 112 ft.X347 ft. in area.
Owing to the change in the climatic condition of the country, the Association has had to make modifications in the implementation of the project. As a result, instead of undertaking the Piggery and Poultry constructions in the first phase, we selected to do the construction of the Poultry House and the cultivation of the swamp land.
With the construction of the Poultry House, the project is now ready to order the supply of 1000 layers and necessary implements, so as to have maximum yield in the production of eggs by mid-next year 2010. The cultivation of the swamp land on the other hand, has placed us in the appropriate position to undertake the layout of the swamp and commence the production of vegetables as we are now right in the dry season which begins in October and is a feasible period for vegetable production.
Added to the cultivation of the swamp land is the development of a fish pond with a central canal and four drainages. This will enable us grow four different fishes and in 6 months, being fed sufficiently, we shall be ready to harvest and supply the local market with fishes.
•k) CAB RECEIVES A 20FT CONTAINER
In August of the year under review CAB received through the Word of Power Ministries, a 20ft. container containing educational materials, computers, washing machine, household materials, agricultural tools, Braille and print books in various disciplines, Bibles, food items etc.
The container followed series of appeals for donation made by CAB's National President, Mr. Beyan G. Kota, when he visited Las Cruces, New Mexico through sponsorship from Her Excellency Madam E.J. Sirlaef, President of Liberia.
Mr. Kota visit was upon an invitation from Mr. Michael Duseau and his wife Mrs. Janice Duseau, who had been very much instrumental in soliciting a large consignment of the materials on the container and had them kept in their warehouse.
Mr. Bill Aguirre also made available US$ 1,000.00 to assist the Duseau's Family with the shipment of the container. Additionally, Bill as he is commonly known among us, solicited books, guitar, clothing and food items for the container. He personally assisted the Duseau's family in packaging the consignment in the container.
Even though the President had granted duty free privilege and custom exception rights to the container, there were still hitches along the way. After several negotiations with authorities of the National Port Authority and the Ministry of State, the association still took responsibility of some of the cost.
Thanks to Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Duseau, Mr. and Mrs. Guillermo Aguirre and our donors and friends who made it a reality for us to attain these equipment and educational supplies.
•l) CAB HOSTS AFUB HIV&AIDS WORKSHOP AT RESOURCE CENTER AND GRASSROOT TRAINING LAUNCHED
In fulfillment of the African Union of the Blind (AFUB) HIV/AIDS awareness and training project for blind and partially sighted persons in Africa, a one week HIV&AIDS workshop was conducted by the Oversight Committee of CABLNAB (The Liberia Christian Association of the Blind and the Liberia National Association of the Blind) at the National Resource Center for the Blind.
This exercise, which was intended to train blind and partially sighted women and men in Liberia on HIV&AIDS related issues began on Sunday, September 27 and was completed on Friday, October 2, 2009.
The aims of the training included amongst other things: to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS amongst blind and partially sighted individuals and to promote their access to inclusion in the mainstreaming of HIV&AIDS programs; i.e. information, awareness and care programs.
The HIV & AIDS workshop brought together 26 blind and partially sighted persons from across the country, who were trained as trainers to return to their respective communities to undertake grass root training of blind and partially sighted men and women in Liberia.
The HIV&AIDS Training Workshop also brought together international and local facilitators from Kenya and Ghana respectively, the National AIDS Control Program of Liberia, the National AIDS Commission of Liberia, the Family Planning Association of Liberia, and the Light Association of Liberia. These resource persons facilitated on HIV&AIDS related topics.
Mr. Kota noted during the workshop that the project was the first of its kind in Liberia targeting visually impaired persons though there have been two workshops held through support from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
Madam Sally Nduta, HIV&AIDS Coordinator of AFUB and Aliminta Abdul-Karium of Ghana were the two international facilitators. Mr. William Hooks of the Liberia Christian Association of the Blind served as Project Coordinator for the HIV&AIDS Workshop.
At the end of the workshop participants were not only certificated but fully understood the methods of prevention of the virus as blind persons, the means by which the virus is transmitted, living positively with AIDS etc.
After one week of intensive training on HIV&AIDS related issues, the blind and partially sighted participants were sent out to conduct Peer Education Workshop into their local communities for the benefit of other blind and partially sighted men and women.
With financial support from the African Union of the Blind through the CABLNAB Joint Oversight Committee, the 26 Peer Educators went into their various communities to train a minimum of 15 persons each on what they acquired during the workshop.
The Grass root training which began on the 5th of October ended December 26, 2009 with 24 grass root trainings completed in various localities around the country. A total of 564 persons have been trained by the Peer Educators on HIV and AIDS related issues.
•m) REOPENING OF THE SCHOOL WITH AN INCREASED ENROLLMENT
The National Resource Institute for the Blind, which is the education component of CAB in September, reopened for the academic year 2009/ 2010 with an increased enrollment from 24 to 35 students.
The Resource Institute runs from Beginner Class to 6 Grade with a teaching staff of about 9 teachers, including volunteer teachers.
The Institute also provides training in Braille Reading and Writing, Orientation and Mobility, Activities of Daily Living and other elementary courses prescribed by the Ministry of Education.
It accommodates students ages 5-35 from around the country and provides counseling for students. There is a rehabilitation component for adults, who are trained in Braille reading and writing, white cane travel training, typing and daily living skills for re-adaptation and employment.
By September 30th, Mr. Guillermo Aguirre and his wife Mrs. Victoria Aguirre returned to Liberia this time feeling more a part of the CAB family to continue the process of offering basic training in carpentry, tailoring and Christian education to blind and partially sighted students at CAB's National Resource Center for the Blind.
During their stay, they visited several churches, providing care introducing a variety of games for the blind children. Mr. Guillermo Aguirre also known as Bill Aguirre further contributed to the education and rehabilitation program of CAB by helping with some of the Braille courses.
He continued his training in carpentry and about four of the blind pupils are currently undergoing training under his supervision at the Resource Center.
He assisted us in establishing an infantry of the materials in the container and on his own account, built a book shelve with 100 books in total.
He also rehabilitated and rendered functional 40 white canes and repaired 3 beds and 6 desks for the school
The most profound of all is the huge cost of travel he and his wife incurred in traveling from the State of Mexico to Liberia, which we understand amounts to 14,800 USD for the two trips they have made to the country as guests of our organization.
After two months of stay in Liberia, they finally departed Liberia for Mexico on the 14th of December 2009.
•n) CELEBRATION OF THE WORLD WHITE CANE SAFETY DAY IN LIBERIA
On October 15, 2009, our beloved Association customarily joined hands with the rest of the world in the celebration of the World White Cane Safety Day.
This year's program marking the observance of the white cane was held in collaboration with other local organizations of the blind, the Greater Monrovia Lions Club in Liberia, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and the Vision 2020 Eye Care Task Force.
The ceremony began with a parade through the principal streets of Monrovia and was climaxed with an indoor program at the City Hall of Monrovia.
Serving as Guest Speaker at the indoor program was the Managing Director of Ecobank, Liberia Madam Morenike Adepoju. Speaking through her proxy, she pledged the bank's commitment to the cause of the blind in Liberia and challenged the Government of Liberia to do more in improving the living standards of its vulnerable citizens.
Also gracing the occasion were the Executive Director of the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation, Hon. Francis Carbah, the Country Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Country Representative of Sight Savers International.
Mr. Kota speaking at the program started up by commending the Government of Liberia for the level of recognition given the white cane and lauded various stakeholders and partners, who had joined the blind in observing the day.
He closed by introducing Mr. and Mrs. Guillermo Aguirre from Mexico who had come to Liberia to contribute to improvement of the lives of blind people in the country.
•o) DEDICATION OF THE KAKATA RURAL TRAINING INSTITUTE FOR THE BLIND
In a bid to afford the blind and partially sighted persons of Liberia the opportunity to discover their human values and rediscover their individual potential capabilities, CAB on the 23rd of October 2009, undertook the dedication of a newly constructed school and dormitory facilities on a two acre of land acquired by the Association at its Kakata, Margibi County Branch.
The dedicated Kakata Rural Training Institute for the Blind contains a three class room and two dormitory facilities, which were constructed by the ZOA Refugee Care, an international NGO operating in Liberia, through the lobbying influence of CAB's National President.
At the program, the Minister of Education Dr. Joseph Korto, who was present to grace the occasion lauded CAB for its extended initiative and pledged the Government's support to the education and integration of blind and visually impaired persons in Liberia.
He further pledged an amount of 5,000.00 USD on behalf of the Ministry.
Serving as Guest Speaker was the Senior Senator of Margibi County, Hon. Clarice Alpha Jah. She commended CAB for the level of work it has carried out in the county and frowned on the ideology held by some that blind people are helpless and can not contribute positively to society. She cited Mr. Kota as a role model whose foot steps can be followed by others who are visually impaired to improve society.
She closed by pledging the county's support to the education and rehabilitation program of CAB with an initial contribution of 1,500.00 USD.
Mr. George K. Flomo, Coordinator of CAB's Margibi County Branch on the other hand praised the county authorities for their immense support and contribution to the branch office but however called on the government to kindly fill in those areas of needs.
The National President of CAB for his part thanked the ZOA Refugee Care for constructing this much needed facility. He also praised the county authorities for their contributions towards the development of the branch, and was smart to encourage the Government of Liberia to come in and make these facilities functional so as to afford blind and visually impaired persons the opportunity to acquire meaningful skills to become independent and productive members of the Liberian society.
•p) VISIT OF THE US AMBASSADOR TO CAB GRAND BASSA BRANCH
On November 10, 2009, the US Ambassador accredited to Monrovia, Amb. Linda Thomas Greenfield paid a visit to the CAB's Grand Bassa County Branch based in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County which is 140.8 kilometers away from Monrovia, to assess the carpentry project currently taking place.
After 30 minutes of stay, she requested Mr. Robert Kpadoe, head of the branch and a carpenter by profession to make traditional drums, which he made three weeks later and traveled to Monrovia with same.
The drums were later delivered to the Ambassador's residence at the US Embassy in Monrovia.
•q) CAB JOINS DPO'S TO COMMEMORATE INERNATIONAL DAY OF THE DISABLED
The International Day of the Disabled Program was on December 3, 2009 celebrated in grand style under the theme: "Making the MDG inclusive and empowering persons with disabilities in their communities".
The celebration of this program was held in 4 different regions. The Union in collaboration with the National Commission on Disabilities (NCD) implemented programs in observance of the day.
Mr. Kota was privileged to address a recorded crowd of about 800 persons on the theme mentioned above. Also present at the occasion were the Gender Minister Varbah Gayflor, Handicap International Country Representative and the Country Rep. of Sight Savers International, Madam Sonii Adoley.
•r) YOUTH OF CAB PARTICIPATE IN WORKSHOP FOR DISABLED YOUTH AS GOVERNMENT CONSTRUCTS ROAD LEADING TO THE CENTER FOR THE BLIND
In an effort to empower youth with disabilities across Liberia, the National Union of the Disabled headed by Mr. Beyan G. Kota in collaboration with Ultimate Solutions conducted two Leadership Training Workshops in Montserrado County and Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County respectively.
The leadership workshop held in both counties focused on several Governance and Management related topics and was facilitated by experts from the National Disabilities Commission, the Union of the Disabled and the Ultimate Solutions.
The Grand Gedeh Workshop began on the 19th and ended on the 21st of November, 2009, while the Montserrado workshop began on the 13th and ended on the 16th of December, 2009.
Lahai Gotolo, member of the youth wing of CAB was elected as Chaplain of the Union of the Disabled Youth Wing.
About 46 disabled persons participated in both trainings held in Montserrado County, central Liberia and Grand Gedeh County in the south eastern region of Liberia.
At the end of the workshops, participants elected corps of officers to steer the affairs of the Youth wing of the Union of the Disabled.
In yet another development, the Government of Liberia in collaboration with Firestone-Liberia finally embarked on the paving of the 225.5 meters road leading to CAB's National Resource Center for the Blind on the 10th of December 2009.
After series of assessments following the visit of the President of Liberia, Madam E. J. Sirleaf to the Resource Center, at which time the President of CAB made a compassionate appeal to the President on the need to pave the almost inaccessible road leading to the center for the blind and visually impaired students, members and personnel as it was causing much inconvenience for blind students on a daily basis.
The dream of the ease of access to the center has now become a reality as work on the road is currently being carried out by Firestone-Liberia. This is indeed a significant and welcomed development as will ensure that blind and partially sighted persons and the disabled community in general have ease of access rather than fighting their way through the thick desert to the Center as was in the past.
We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks and sincere appreciation to God, first of all for His goodness and bountiful blessings through the year.
Our commendation is also paid to Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the National Commission on Disabilities, the African Union of the Blind (AFUB), Mr. Guillermo Aguirre and his wife, Mr. Michael Duseau and his wife Mrs. Janice Duseau, and other donors and friends, who have supported CAB's program.
The National Commission on Disabilities in Liberia under its institutional support program made financial contribution to CAB, paid two of its employees and provided five security personnel at the Resource Center, who are currently in charge of the maintenance and security of the facilities.
The Association also wishes to acknowledge the extra financial contribution of some of its members in persons of Mr. Robert K. Williams, who currently serves as Acting Executive Director of the National Commission on Disabilities (NCD), Mr. James Williams, Mr. Beyan G. Kota and Mrs. Fatu C. Kota for undertaking the payment of some the employees and support staff of the Association.
We also extend thanks to Mr. Lafayette Greenfield, husband of current US Ambassador accredited to Liberia for the donation of a live nanny goat which when breed is a rich delicacy of the local Liberian food. Goats are therefore good animals for income generating activities.
Special thanks is extended to our teachers at the National Resource Institute for the Blind, our hard working support staff including our cooks, drivers, securities and janitors for their level of commitment to serving humanity.