Sighted guides

It doesn’t take long conversing with people with visual impairments that the number one need seems to be companions to guide them on errands. We are well aware of this need, and though those of us with sight in Light for the blind do what we can to help, the need is greater than us.  We pray for those that can be a true friend to the blind in Albania.

Sighted guiding is important on many levels.
  • Safety concerns: In a country, still trying to catch up to accessibility standards and safety standards, white canes have their limits and although they are good for fostering independence they cannot give the level of safety that comes with a sighted guide.
  • Awareness: One of the joys of life is experience the world around us. We each experience the world in different ways. With a sighted guide, the blind are able to give context to the sounds and smells around them. It helps fill in the gaps or their understanding.
  • Opportunity to learn new routes: A white cane is of little help, if one doesn’t know where they are going. Sighted guides help open up places the blind can get around when no one is available to help.
  • Opportunities for participation: This past month I was able to go to a book fair in Tirana. It is a yearly event that highlights the books available in Albania. In many way, such an event is not something that a blind person can find helpful or possible. But with my friend we had an enriching experience learning of the literary scene in Albania.
  • Friendship: Even when we are on everyday errands having a friend to come along is just that much more enjoyable. Sighted guiding is more than a practical need, it is about friendship.

Volunteerism is not something fulling understood in Albania.  Many may see it as taking advantage of them, and in fact that may often be the case.  And it is a danger of those needing assistance taking advantage of those that are ready to help.  Like many things it takes a mutual respect.  These are the challenges of raising up those that would be willing to be sighted guides.  Pray that we may be led to those with a servants heart.  Just to give you some idea of the challenges, here are some of the qualities we are looking for.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9 NKJV

Qualities for a sighted guide
  • Respect: I begin with this quality, because you cannot really help those that you do not respect. Disabilities are tough enough without people treating them like second class people. Often people don’t even understand the ways in which they disrespect those visually impaired. Sometimes they will do things for the blind that they can do themselves. Let them make the decisions that are theirs to make. Let them be apart of the process.
  • Dedication: A fair weather sighted guide is great for fair weather. But is of little use when things get tough. This takes dedication which is really based in our love for those we help.
  • A Servants heart: It may seem redundant to what was written above, but it cannot hurt to say it. A servants heart is the foundation of a sighted guide.
  • Time: Good people with good intentions to help does little good if they have no time due to work constraints. They may help from time to time, but availability is a key qualification.

Pray with us as we consider the needs of the visually impaired, both in Albania and where you are.  Why don’t you consider those that you may help local to you.

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