My name is Oliver Ounounou and I am 54 years old. I am married to my wife Celine and we have 3 girls: Deborah, Esther and Benie. I would like to describe my journey that has led me to the decision to start this charity.
Firstly, I was registered as blind in 2003 at Moorfields Eye Hospital, due to an eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa. The liaison officer at Moorfields Eye Hospital was a blind woman. The news of being registered blind had left me with little hope of being able to work again, however this liaison officer inspired and showed me that there was still hope. This lady referred me to the Westminster council rehabilitation services, and my rehabilitation officer was also partially sighted.
I was introduced to a course called You Can Do IT. Through this I was provided with equipment, and received computer skills training at home. In order to improve my computer skills, I was referred to OBAC (Organisation Of Blind Africans & Caribbeans). The computer teacher at this organisation for blind Africans and Caribbeans was blind, and his assistant was partially sighted. I was inspired from spending time with people at OBAC. This also proved to me that blind people can work and also feel part of a community. Furthermore, I volunteered with OBAC for a year and helped settle in newcomers. I also receive support from RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People), and I am part of a connect and campaign group.
The next step in my journey was going to Birmingham City University to study rehabilitation training for visually impaired people. Throughout my study, I visited Congo and met the managers that run a centre to help blind people. From this meeting it was clear that there is a lack of equipment and support available, thereby making it difficult for the centre to run efficiently. This stirred me to want to start a charity that can help centres including this centre. Now I have partnered with this same centre and we are working together to provide rehabilitation services and IT training for blind and partially sighted people in Congo.
I have had a lot of emotional support throughout my journey from my family, friends and church, and also the counselling service I was referred to by my GP. After all of the experience, inspiration, knowledge and skills that I had acquired, I began to write down my vision for this charity.
I cannot see but I have a dream, I have no sight but I have a vision. I have a vision to see blind children in the developing world achieve their dreams, become independent and live as active members of society. I have a vision to see blind children go through life having the emotional support that they need; with your help we can ensure that no blind child has to suffer alone. Sight loss is not the end and every single child deserves to see their dreams come true, with your support we can make this happen. Together we can make a difference.Being blind is not the end, Agape believes in your future.