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Reference : V-P-CM-E-00150
Date : 06/2020
Country/Region : CAMEROON
Caption : Yaoundé. Brigitte, 12, in her second year of school, from Maroua. She 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.
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."

I am completely blind, but I remember that when I was little, I often went with my maman to the market to sell bean fritters. I've been living here at the home with brother, Emmanuel, since 2016. My family has only come to see me once, but luckily Emmanuel and I get along well with everyone here.
"I heard on the news that coronavirus is a disease that can kill and we have to be careful."
When the teachers were still coming to give us lessons, they talked a lot about coronavirus. Now I wash my hands with soap and water all the time and I greet people with just a "bonjour".
Since coronavirus started, I don't go out to play anymore. We stay here all the time. Sometimes I help in the kitchen, cutting the onions. I like braiding my doll's hair. Her name is Barbie. When I'm older, I want to be a hairdresser.

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