Derry charity Children in Crossfire have teamed up with the Royal National Institute for The Blind (RNIB) to offer an amazing work placement opportunity to visually impaired young people from across Northern Ireland.
The ‘VIVID’ programme, that is ‘Visually Impaired Volunteers in International Development’ will see four local young people embark on a three month work placement at a school for the visually impaired in Gambia.
The programme has been co-funded by the Department for International Development, Civil Society Challenge Fund to the amount of £425, 000.
The hope is that more than the initial four volunteers will avail of the programme and that it will eventually see locals visit and work in Tanzania and Ethiopia as well as Gambia.
Those four who will travel first, are Belfast’s Jordan Gilmore, David Telford, Feargal Campbell and Derry girl Laura McCauley.
All four are experienced with the RNIB and have been handselected so that their skill sets compliment, in the best possible way, the needs of the school they are travelling to work in.
The first of the students depart in June and it is hoped that more will travel on a three week rota.
Richard Moore, founder and director of Children in Crossfire said: “This is a very exciting initiative. Visually impaired young people are no different to anyone else. the opportunity to volunteer in a developing country is as much a desire for them as it is for their sighted peers. This project gives them an opportunity they wouldn’t have otherwise.
“As an organisation Children in Crossfire are delighted to work in partnership with the RNIB as they have enormous expertise and advice to give visually impaired people in the Gambia.
“It is difficult for any young person growing up in the developing world who suffers from the injustice of poverty but when you have a disability, I believe it is even more challenging.
“It is important that disabled young people are protected, encouraged and supported.
“This project will help do this.”
Barry Macauley RNIB senior manager, said: “This project will help them boast their CVs, give them work skills and increase their employability.
“It basically answers their question when they asked, our fellow students are all travelling on gap year projects, why can’t we?”
The RNIB sent a party to the Gambia earlier this month in order to prepare the school for the arrival of the placement students.
They installed top of the range computer software which will help with audio, large format writing and sporting equipment for the visually impaired.
Mr. Macauley said: “Student support for the students while they are in Africa will be provided by the charity, Voluntary Services Overseas so there is a complete support package provided for those travelling. It should be a great experience for them and the students in Africa.”