Totally Blind.… But Managing
Simon Mesfun, Mar 13, 2006

Most people acquire some type of visual problem at some point in their lives. Some can no longer see objects far away while others have problems reading small print. And some lose total sight. The five children of Mr. Mohamed Nur Abubeker belong to the last group.

This family lives about 60 Km from Keren, in the historical town of Afabet. The surprising thing is that all the children were blind at birth.

The visually impaired children, Idris, Mohammed Ali, Saedia, Bekita and Akiar, were born from healthy parents, Mr. Mohamed Nur Abubeker, who died years ago, and Ms. Fatuma Idris.

The first question that comes to mind is that how can these people manage to lead their lives with the help the help of their 60 years-old mother, who is also losing sight due to advanced age? The eldest of the family Idris, 45, and his younger brother Mohammed Ali are the only bread winners of the family. They get the money for living from the helping hand of the residents of the town.

The house work of the family is conducted by the three sisters Saedia, Bekita, Akiar and of course their mother. Saedia cooks the food, Bekita washes clothes and Akiar with her mother do the other house work. 

The five members of the family are not well educated, especially the three women. Answering to a question why they didn’t go to school, their mother said, “The boys learned to recite the Kuraan but the girls didn’t go to school at all. I tried to take them to school while they were kids but they told me they couldn’t do it; so I let them stay at home.”

“I once took them to hospital during the Dergue regime and later Idris sought cure, but it didn’t work out and from that time I accepted that my five children could not be cured. It’s God’s will and you can’t do anything beyond accepting it,” said Ms. Fatima.

Despite their visual impairment, the disabled do not have problems in moving from place to place. Mohammed Ali says that he knows the whole town and has no problems moving around. “Sometimes, I even go to attend some funeral ceremonies, if they are not too far,” he said.

The five of them were born in the same house they are now living in. At present, however, the town administration has asked them to leave as their house is built out of the town’s master plan.

“Blindness is no more a problem to us; our worry is that it will be a problem for us to live in a new area other than our home, because we are used to living here,” says Saedia. But if the town administration says it is final, then we don’t have any other choice but to leave,” Saedia further said.

The house the family is now living in is made of wood and grass and can be easily destroyed by one simple rainstorm. Earlier, the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare had given them 2,000 Nfa, which they used to buy blocks to build one room; but they didn’t manage it as they didn’t have enough additional