By Laureta Akpan
Enene Akonjom is a very passionate about her work with visibly impaired people. She has taken her message about the need to take proper care of the eyes and offered immense service to persons with sight problems across Cross River, Ebonyi and Nasarawa States. When CrossRiverWatch asked her what has been her driving force, she told us it is because her dad lost his eyes to Glycoma 6 years ago.
Tell us about yourself……
My name is Enene Nsed Akonjom, born into a family of 8,6th child out of the 8 children. Am from Nde village, in Ikom L.G.A of cross river state I am an accountant by profession and a development advocate who is passionate about human and community development . As an advocate I raise my voice, speak for the voiceless and mentor youth through capacity building trainings and over time we have recorded tremendous impact and we hope to do more. Basically I believe that giving is a life style so I will stop at nothing to put smiles in the faces of less privileged people and above all am God fearing and a Christian.
Tell us also about your vision for development initiative
Vision for development (Akonjom’s eye) is an initiative born out of the frequent occurrence of blind cases in the society using my father who lost his sight to glycoma as a case study. It all started when my dad lost his sight to glycoma. If proper regular medical checks were done, the doctor will be able to rectify or manage the situation for life. Africans especially Nigerians are not used to periodic medical check-up except a matter becomes critical before it is attended to. To stop further eye mal-function and blind cases we had to come up with vision for development program to support community people.
The society have ignored the eye part of their body knowing clearly that without sight we cannot create any impact nor be productive and we all know that productivity gives birth to development. So we decided to raise our voices through campaigns, free eye checks , distribution of reading glasses and referrals for surgeries, for those who are due for surgery, since we are unable to fund the process. Over 500 people are now aware of the health of their eyes, and the need to conduct periodic eye medical check -up to prevent blindness and other diseases. Critical situations have reduced drastically .we desire to seek collaboration in future with doctors and organizations that will assist in carrying out surgeries rendered at a much reduced rate for the voiceless.
One has been the impact of your project in the last one year?
Yes, we flagged up vision for development project in June last year with sensitization programs in schools, communities, churches and mosques. The project has demonstrated tremendous impact ranging from awareness creation on the health of the eye. Our free eye program has left us with a lot of mind blowing testimonies like teachers with bad eye sight performing well after the free eye check-up and distribution of medicated glasses make their job easier those we had difficulty in reading and making their lesson notes now do it with ease. Students who were giving glasses who weren’t performing well in school are doing well now because they can now read and copy their notes effectively. Business men like some tailors had great challenge and dropped out because inability to thread the needle and make customers clothes became a challenge which led to them losing all of their customers. Vision for development has brought succor for people and is addressing each goals of the MDGs accordingly, it has also benefited 450 men women and youth.
Do you have a specific number of persons that your project was able to reach in 2013?
Over 1000 persons have been sensitized, 350 men, women and youths have gotten medical support and 650 have the knowledge on the health of the eyes.
What is unique about your idea?
The unique thing about my idea is without sight one can hardly achieve anything. Sight is a part way into the body and without sight a normal person s completely disoriented and out of communication with his environment. The initiative helps the disabled to relate with their environment which makes life meaningful.
Do you run your initiative full time and do you also work with volunteers?
No not full time – to enable me and my team source for funds for the organization. Yes we have volunteers – between 30 and 50 volunteers.
How do you sustain your project?
We work with volunteers mostly to run our programs since we don’t have regular income coming in; we give them stipends after each community outreach. When preparing our budget for our programs we include them. We have few individuals partnering with the organization to support our program occasionally. Most times I do consultancy programs, event planning from were funds are generated to tackle organizational problems.
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