How Daily Sun gave lifeline to blind pastor

From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

In June 2022, Daily Sun ran a story on a man who went blind shortly after training as a pastor in a theology school, Kaduna.

He is Mr. Ogana Aluka Marcel, 56, who had previously hawked and distributed newspapers and newsmagazines on the streets of Kaduna, capital of Kaduna State, for over 20 years before he decided to enrol into a school of theology, where he trained as a pastor.

Marcel said soon after the Daily Sun interview, some public-spirited Nigerians called and expressed empathy and indicated interest to sponsor him to a Braile reading and writing and vocational training centre, Lagos.

“I want to disclose that following The Sun interview in 2022 about my visual impairment, I received a lot of calls, encouragement and empathy. The interview helped a lot in bringing me to my present academic qualification at the training centre.

“So permit me once again to use this opportunity to appeal to the government at all levels to come to my aid because I want to go into full work of God, my challenges not withstanding. And to The Sun newspaper, keep up the good work you are doing for the less privileged in the society,” Marcel said.

According to him, he took the opportunity offered by the Deeper Life Bible Church, Kaduna, to train at Nigeria Society for the Blind, Vocational and Training Centre, Oshodi, Lagos.

He told Daily Sun in this interview that he was able to complete the one-year training programme, having enrolled in January 2023 and completed it in December of the same year.

Marcel majored in Braile reading and writing, soap making, tie-and-dye and he was issued a certificate of proficiency by the centre.

The visually impaired pastor, who hails from Yala Local Government Area of Cross River State, told Daily Sun that he started having eye problems when he was posted to Danja Local Government Area of Katsina State to minister in a church in the area sometimes in 2020.

One fateful morning, he said his eyes became reddish and from that moment he began to move from one eye hospital to another across the country to seek remedy but to no avail.

At a point, he added, the medical experts concluded that it was too late to cure him of the eye infection because “the glaucoma had gone worst to withstand surgery.”

He said despite his eye problems, there was no going back in doing God’s work, and that all he needed was sponsorship that would provide him Braille education and lift him into evangelism, thanking God that he has got the education.

He narrated his experience at the rehabilitation centre to Daily Sun. He said: “I was sponsored to the rehabilitation centre by Deeper Life Bible Church, Kaduna. It was a one year training programme. I started in January 2023 and completed the training in December 2023.

“We were given a certificate after the graduation. I was given a certificate in Braille reading and writing. The certificate also covers other courses that I attended like mobility and orientation.

“I also underwent vocational training where I learned how to make soap. It was a wonderful experience. On the first day at the centre, we were given guide materials by some visitors that came to

school.

“On this particular day, I lost my way. I missed my track from the lecture hall going to the dinning hall. It was a funny experience. We shared experiences among ourselves.

“There is this particular colleague who said that after his primary school education he got blind and as such he couldn’t go further. He had to come to the centre to learn. Others said they got blind after their tertiary education.

“They found themselves at the centre to obtain this certificate. Another one told me that he got blind as a result of snake bite. One said he was born blind. These are some of the pathetic stories I listened to while I was there. So, to God be the glory. In our common challenge we were all happy at the centre. The centre was established in 1955.

“I realised that no matter your situation in life, you can still get to where you want academically or otherwise. The training is on two sides, academics and vocation, that is skills acquisition. For those at the vocation, there is nylon rope making, beads making, flower base making and others. On academic side, we were taught ICT, mobility and orientation and other courses that were involved. So it was an experience that is memorable. We were involved in sports to keep ourselves fit.

“It is a place where a 15-year-old boy and a 78-year-old man can sit in the same classroom. We see ourselves as having a common challenge, that is blindness. The little I have learnt will serve as a foundation for me to build upon to get to whatever God has ordained in my life.

“My appeal is to the government because I heard of recent about passage of the bill for students loan scheme. I was so excited by the development. I pray to God to help them do what is ought to be done.

“I want this government to revisit the disability bill by the last administration. I want to also suggest that the loan scheme should be extended to the physically challenged persons in the society for equity and justice to prevail. I also want government to take head count of the blind people so that we should be abreast with authentic figure instead of relying on rumoured figure of over three million Nigerians being blind. It is a serious case that those blind people that are not exposed to the rehabilitation centre are really in pains. They have become liabilities in many homes. And that is why you hear of broken homes, suicide cases and others.

“I think government can intervene to reduce this socio-economic problem. Government should establish national eye treatment centre in all the geopolitical zones in the country because the only existing one is over stressed. Government should also establish vocational centres in these zones to cater for the blind to reduce their plight.

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