Blind Carpenter Wants Inclusion
-..Calls For Vocational, Technical Training For The Disabled Community
BUCHANAN, Liberia- It is not often that you see a person with disabilities engaging in Carpentry, but Old man Robert Kpardo is one of few who has broken the glass ceiling.
Visually impaired, Mr. Kpardo is one of the busiest Carpenters in the port city of Buchanan, Grand Bassa who is making on his own without any help from government.
But he wants the government to include persons with disabilities in every positive ventures it introduces.
Head of the Christian Association of the Blind in Grand Bassa, Mr. Kpardo said there is a need for government to create special vocational training center for people who are physically challenged, as means of making helping them become useful in society.
Old man Kpardo has been making a living as a Carpenter since 1975, when he was still a young man before he lost his sight in the 90s during the civil war in Liberia.
“I was never born totally blind, I had one eye when I started my carpentry work in 1975, but I later got totally blind during the 1990s,” he told this Reporter as he displayed his skills in carpentry.
Old man Kpardo feeds his family from his professional works, but there are challenges he faces, because there are no programs put in place by the authorities to enable him and others who have decided to use their hands to make living.
“See how I am struggling to work as a Carpenter and don’t even have the right tools,” he lamented.
“I am sure if we had a vocational training center by now many of us couldn’t have been in the street begging.”
The government needs to include them into different activities of the country as a means of helping to take people with disabilities off the streets.
“I am calling on the government of Liberia to provide skill training programs for visually impaired people to acquire skills,” he asserted.
Mr. Kpardo cited the lack of adequate tools to enhance his work as a major challenge hampering his work in Grand Bassa County.
In spite of this, he said his disability has not caused him to limit himself- stressing that he is one of those making serious impact in the society as a carpenter.
“I am also calling on the government of Liberia to provide skill training programs for visually impaired people to acquire skills,“ he added.
Difficult living with visual impairment but…
He stressed that living as a visually impaired man is a difficult for him, but he accepted his condition and decided to continue his Carpentry work to survive.
“I’ve been blind since 1990, but I normally don’t go in the street to beg before providing food for my kids or paying their school fees,” this old but physically fit man.
According to Mr. Kpardo, at intervals, he fixes benches and tables, something that provides income to feed his family who depend on him for ends meet.
Though Old man Kpardo is visually impaired, he is not worried about his condition but he feels like life is about making things work for you instead of always crying and bagging people for fishes.
Interestingly, be said that many people sometimes doubt that he is visually impaired given the fact that he has been working as a Carpenter for many years now, thus doubting that he does not have sight.
“I know people will not believe that I am a carpenter, but I roofed my own house and fixed a lot of benches for our visually impaired Church here in Grand Bassa,” Mr. Kpardo narrated.
What he tells people is that although he cannot see, he uses his mind as an eye and a special measurement tools created for visually impaired people like him and others to do his work.
The old man is aging. And he is now walking with cane.
Explaining the experience living with visual disability, he said while roofing his house some time ago, he lost balance and dropped from the roof- something that is causing him pain.
Not given up
Notwithstanding old man Kpardo has not given up. He is still focused and continuing his work as a Carpenter.
This professionally trained Carpenter is encouraging people who are physically challenged and visually impaired to add value to themselves with trade and not allowing others to see them as object of pity.
According to him, blindness is by no means an easy condition to endure. Whether it is physical, mental, or social blindness, there is much to learn about blindness.
“We need to know the difference between vision and sight,” he added.
According to him, once a person loses his or her eye sight, he/she needs to keep the vision, stressing that vision is important because it helps them imagine what they want their future to be like.
“Thus, we can begin working towards it. I feel so bad that my colleagues will be in the streets begging to help themselves but I want to let them know that education is key and we all need to learn something,” this inspiring visually impaired Liberian Carpenter stressed.