Awa Bouda, 24, is blind and a teacher at the Bible Society of Burkina Faso’s Braille Centre. She shared her moving story with Bible Society Communications Manager Gladys Guienguéré.
“I was born blind to a family that lived in the village of Goodin in Kombissiri. I suffered a lot during my childhood because of my disability. My father rejected me, thinking that I was useless. He abandoned me and left the village to go and live in Ouagadougou, the capital city.
I had so many difficulties because my needs weren’t taken into consideration like the other children in the family. I didn’t have clothes to wear and nobody bothered with me. Everybody thought I was a useless member of society.
But one day my aunt told my father to come back to the village to find me and bring me to Ouagadougou. She welcomed me into her home and taught me how to do all the household chores, including cooking meals.
My life began to change
My life began to change because for the first time I felt accepted and worthy of consideration, like everyone else. A Christian in the church I attended heard about me and suggested that I apply to learn Braille at the Braille Centre. My application was accepted and I spent three years there learning Braille and other practical skills, such as handcrafts, to help me become self-sufficient.
After this, I had the opportunity to be trained as a Braille teacher, and I went on two courses to get my teaching qualification. I have been teaching at the Braille Centre now for two years and I am so happy to be able to help other visually impaired people like myself.
Value in God’s eyes
So often in Africa, society and even family members drive disabled people to idleness and begging. I really want to urge blind people like me to not listen to what people say about them, and to not let their disability stop them from learning and developing. People with disabilities have value in God’s eyes.
Thanks to the education that I have received here at the Braille Centre, my family has accepted me. My father has a lot more consideration for me and I feel that I am playing a useful role in life. None of this would have been possible without that intial Braille training that I received.
I take even greater joy in the fact that I can read the Bible. When I feel sad, I read the Word of God and that restores my hope and joy. I am a member of my church choir and I also do Bible readings in church services.
I am so thankful to the Bible Society and its partners for thinking about visually disabled people and opening the Braille Centre. I pray that God will keep the centre going so that others will be trained and enjoy the same benefits I did.”
Pray that others like Awa can learn Braille and transform their lives
The Bible Society of Burkina Faso has been serving people with visual disabilities (PVD) for around 18 years, and has come to be recognised nationally as an organisation making a real difference in this area.
Through its Braille Centre in Ouagadougou, it teaches Braille literacy to around 100 people each year. This opens up opportunities for blind people to encounter literature for the first time, including Scriptures, and to begin an education. They are also taught agricultural skills and handicrafts, enabling them to integrate into society and experience the dignity of being able to generate income and contribute to their families and communities.
Some of them, like Awa, go on to become Braille teachers, too, multiplying their training to benefit many others.
The Braille literacy course is six months long and learners are provided with free training, food and accommodation for the duration. The Bible Society currently rents premises, but these are cramped and inadequate.
The Bible Society has bought a plot of land and has begun construction of a new centre that will provide better conditions for students and trainers, but it has limited funds. Please pray for this vital work.
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