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Light and life (part 2) -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Light and life (part 2)


Vincent Yao says he could never leave his brother alone in a substandard home like their former dwelling. With Amani safe at the brothers’
secure, healthy Habitat house, Vincent is confident to leave and farm during the day. Photo by Chris Mattle

Learning to farm again

 


The Yao brothers received a new house in 2007 as part of Habitat Cote d’Ivoire’s focus on building subsidized housing for orphans, leprosy patients, disabled adults and other vulnerable people. Photo by Chris Mattle

   
   
 

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Habitat Cote d’Ivoire also partners with a nonprofit training center here called Fraiche Rosee, which teaches vocational skills to those who have already lost their sight.

For Amani Yao, that training means learning how to read and write in Braille. He has also relearned something he has known nearly since birth: farming. Amani and Vincent’s father left them a cocoa farm when he died. Since Amani went blind, Vincent has had to tend the crop largely by himself.

Now, agriculture specialists are teaching Amani to recognize herbs and crops by feel, to navigate rows of turned soil, and to physically do the work of a farmer.

Amani’s agricultural training brings hope that he can help in the fields again soon. In the meantime, Vincent continues to serve as his younger brother’s guide and protector, leading Amani around the village by hand.

“We used to work together at the farm, to do everything together,” Amani said. “So I’m thankful that we can continue to live and work together. My brother has done things for me I will never be able to pay back.”

Vincent now has peace of mind when he visits the fields each day, knowing that his brother is safe and comfortable at home. Vincent says their house — along with Amani’s training — has given his brother renewed confidence. And the community has learned a lesson, too.

“My village is learning that being blind is not the end of the world,” Vincent said. “Life is not finished.”