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Reference : V-P-CM-E-00147
Date : 06/2020
Country/Region : CAMEROON
Caption : Yaoundé. portrait of Soubiane, 27, from northern Cameroon. He is a resident of the Foyer Colonel-Daniel-de-Rouffignac for visually impaired people.
Photographer : BELOUMOU, Daniel
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : ICRC website, article, 24.06.2020
Cameroon: Navigating the distance created by COVID-19
How do you practice social distancing when you’re blind or visually impaired? Soubiane, Judith, Emmanuel, Brigitte, Jules and Bienvenu all live together in a home for visually impaired people on the outskirts of Yaoundé, Cameroon. They recently told photographer Daniel Beloumou how COVID-19 had affected their daily lives. They may feel more cut-off from the rest of the world, but their optimism and camaraderie help them carry on.
"The home is open to everyone, be they blind, visually impaired, abandoned, orphaned or troubled," says Edwige Mbazoa, now 86, who for more than 20 years has run the Foyer Colonel-Daniel-de-Rouffignac. Under her care and guidance, the couple dozen children and young people who live there are dreaming of finding their place in the wider world, despite the obstacles they face.
I listen to the news all the time, so I heard about the coronavirus and immediately started taking precautions, like wearing a mask when I go outside.

The lockdown is particularly hard for blind people in Cameroon. Before, I visited my friends and family. I ran my businesses, which brought in 1,000 to 2,000 CFA francs a day (about 1.5 to 3 euros). But now I'm at a complete loss. The money's run out.
Friends and family no longer want to visit, and we can't go see them either. We can no longer get help from others, touch people or discuss with them. I hope it will be over soon. Later on, I would like to be a human resource manager for a company.
"I do everything I can to be seen as normal. I have sighted friends and blind friends and if a girl turns me down, I think it's because she's not interested, not because I'm blind."
To help the home in these difficult times, the ICRC and the Cameroon Red Cross Society have provided handwashing stations and hygiene items. We also taught the children how to take precautionary measures.
Edwige, who works tirelessly on behalf of the children in her home, is proud to be able to help them find their way in the world: "Some of them have become lawyers, teachers or engineers. A disability cannot be an excuse for excluding someone from society." The potential for the spread of COVID-19 has changed things for us at the home. Edwige told us that the crisis "has siphoned away all the funding. The people and organizations that usually support us aren't giving as much."
The residents of the home might be more isolated from the rest of the world, but the ties between them remain just as close.
On the rare occasions when they do go out, they take all the precautions they can. They’re taking things one step at a time.
Original material : digital
Resolution : 8500x5667
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour