Dosso (Agenzia Fides) - After a year, Father Rafael Casamayor, together with two of his collaborators, managed to return to Gaya and spend some time with the blind children of the inclusive Catholic school in the city that they were no longer able to reach for security reasons (see Fides, 7/1/2022).
The priest, from the Society for African Missions, drew attention to the small Nigerien community, in particular the families that the missionaries follow together with the volunteers of CIES Niger who are involved with blind children. "We spent the day, exchanging experiences, coordinating our activities and spending some time with the children".
To give voice to the story of Fr. Rafael is Dieudonné who, precisely in Gaya, among these children, felt his vocation, his mission. "This is how he, and some others, are becoming stars that illuminate us in the midst of so much darkness that we are going through".
"A year ago, I discovered a strange world but full of passion and love – explains Dieudonné. I had heard of a group called CIES Niger who work with visually impaired children in Gaya, who are often isolated from society. I visited the center and was captivated by the affection and joy that these children radiate when they feel valued and loved. Thanks to the work of this group, the children awaken to social life with great enthusiasm. When I returned to Dosso, I could not get them out of my mind until, in the end, I finally made the decision to dedicate my life to a similar project that was starting in Dosso".
Dieudonné recounts that in the inclusive school in the city with which they had contacted, there were more than twenty children enrolled in the classes, but about fifteen had dropped out due to lack of means, because they lived far away and their families had no means nor could pay for transportation. "Faced with this challenge that kept children away from school, an immediate solution had to be found. After a few days of reflection with Father Rafael and Franck, my colleague in the same project, we decided to provide them with transportation and lunch at noon so that they could go straight home in the afternoon".
During the summer, the group organized work meetings, training and learning to weave chairs, mats, knitwear, perfumery, Braille writing exercises, mobility and orientation. Fundamental for blind children (see Fides, 30/8/2022). "The objective was to teach them to use their hands to achieve a little more autonomy and not depend on the help of others. This is how we got to know these children. It was a bit difficult at first, but with the patience and trust with which they welcomed us, we overcame the difficulties.
Today we form a team: Zankey Handuriya, the star of the children. These children are lights and this light shines within them. When you feel welcomed, this light emerges. Today, Zankey Handuriya is a small beacon of hope". (RC) (Agenzia Fides 1/12/2022)