Blind Farmer and Chaplain Rejects Blindness as Excuse for Dependence
June 6, 2016
Blindness results in dependence for many people living in poverty, but Amidu “Francis” Kayina, age 65, has refused to let blindness rob him of his independence. Moreover, has used his blindness to encourage others not to give up on themselves.
Blindness has been an integral part of Francis’ life for many years. As an ophthalmic nurse at the Baptist Eye Hospital in Lunsar, Sierra Leone, Francis took care of many blind patients, many of whom were new to blindness and struggling with the loss of vision. When Francis himself became blind due to multiple glaucoma surgeries in his mid-40s, he became chaplain at the eye hospital, continuing to help patients with a layer of empathy that only another blind person could offer.
One program provided by the Baptist Eye Hospital is Agricultural Rehabilitation for the Blind, which aims to empower blind people to continue taking care of themselves and their families, even without the ability to see. Francis attended this training many years ago, learning how to farm as a blind man, and over the years has encouraged other blind people to participate in the training.
Back in March, Ebenezer Baptist Fellowship, where Foday began his church planting ministry in Lunsar, sent church leaders to the Just Hope sustainable conservation agriculture training. Recently, those leaders held a demonstration at Ebenezer to pass along what they had learned. In attendance was Francis, a church member, who was excited by the “planting station” method it taught.
“Without bedding or plowing, I knew I could save a lot of energy,” he said.
Francis and fellow member John Bangura, who oversees agricultural outreach at Ebenezer, have now planted a six-by-six-meter plot at the eye hospital, where Francis plans to involve more patients in the Agricultural Rehabilitation program. They have tweaked the techniques for the needs of blind farmers, including special tools that Shanty and Francis are designing together, that will make it possible for blind farmers to lay out plots themselves.
“I frown when I see blind people begging on the highway and endangering themselves among the speeding cars, because I know there are better options,” he said.