[nfbwatlk] Fw: an essay

Mike Freeman k7uij at panix.com
Wed Nov 25 02:40:15 UTC 2009

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: "Mary Ellen" <gabias at telus.net>
To: <list at cfb.ca>
Date: Monday, Nov 23, 2009 13:31:04
Subject: an essay

Joanne, our nineteen-year-old daughter, is studying in Guatemala this semester. As part of her philosophy course, she studied nongovernmental organizations, (NGO'NESS). This is the essay she wrote comparing effective and ineffective NGO's.
The whole movement toward social and human services would be greatly enhanced if those making decisions remembered respect, education, and offering a genuine hand up.
Joanne Gabias
Philosophy 235 
Essay 3
Don't Be Blinded by the Glamour
Many humanitarian organizations put on a show that will please the donors. They tell them what they want to hear to receive funds. However, these funds sparsely  are properly distributed to the benefit of the recipients. The best way to measure the effectiveness of these organizations is to see how they respect their recipients, their methods of education and if they are giving people a hand up or a hand out. I will be looking at two different organizations to illustrate the difference between a positive and effective humanitarian organization and an organization parading as one.
 To be able to help someone you need to first understand who they are as a person or as a people.  You cannot pretend that they are any less than they are. You cannot downplay their identity. Once you acknowledge them for who they are you have to respect them for who they are. From there you are able to figure out what you are able to do in helping them in whatever way they need to further their personal improvement. 
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is the largest organization for the Blind in the United States. Respect is at the core of everything they stand for and fight for. They do not run from the word blind. They embrace it. They believe "The real problem of blindness is not the loss of eyesight, but the misunderstanding and lack of information which exist. If a blind person has proper training and opportunity, blindness can be reduced to the level of a physical nuisance." (NFB)
The CNIB on the other hand, fears the word blind. The CNIB is a Canadian organization that focuses on the prevention of blindness and support of people with vision loss. Their name used to signify Canadian National Institute for the Blind but they have since changed it to simply CNIB. There were two reasons for the change in name. The first was they didn't like the word Institute, rightly so. The second was they didn't like the word Blind. They refuse to call anyone they help Blind, even if they are 100% blind. They prefer to use the word vision impaired or affected by vision loss for everyone they help. This is the core of their ineffectiveness. If you are terrified to understand people for who they are, you are not able to truly respect them and therefore are unable to help them in any way.
Once you recognize and see the value in who you are trying to aid, you can find ways of facilitating their needs through education. Education is the basis to all self-improvement. You cannot grow if you do not have a method of doing so. 
The NFB's main focus of aid is through education. They have programs for all ages, infants to seniors, for all degrees of blindness, legally blind to completely blind, for parents of blind children to blind parents, for newly blind and so much more. Their goal is to help people "understand the real problems of blindness and try to develop innovative education, technologies, products and services that help the world's blind to achieve independence." (NFB)
Since the CNIB does not believe in the word blind, their goal is to try to help you use the little vision you have as much as possible. They have products and services that help you continue to use your sight.  CNIB is not directly responsible for the education of blind children, though they frequently raise funds using children. Nevertheless, their philosophy of using vision instead of developing blindness techniques has been adopted by the education system of Canada. In schools, at least partly because of the influence of CNIB, children are not taught how to read Braille rather how to use large magnifying glasses to slowly read print. This in fact hinders the child. Once they become fully blind, they will have no way to read or write anymore. They will have to read learn all these things when they could have been taught them in the beginning. Learning  blindness techniques would not prevent them from using their small amount of vision. In fact, knowing blindness skills make
 s the use of small amounts of remaining eyesight more useful because sight can be used in situations where it will truly help and blindness techniques most of the time because they work best. If the person knows no blindness techniques, the person has no choices.
  The CNIB looks at blindness or vision loss, as they call it, as a huge problem that has little hope without their services. This is clearly embodied in their slogan Vision Health, Vision Hope. 
If they want to be an effective and positive organization, CNIB must start giving their recipients a hand up and not simply a handout. They should be a supporting aspect of a person's self-improvement not the provider of cradle to grave services, most of which a well trained and independent blind person does not need. Their goal should be to give their recipients the means of coming to their own ends. They shouldn't consider themselves the saving god of their recipients or their only way to happiness.
The National Federation of the Blind believes that every person is an ordinary person, some just happen to be blind. It is the same as if you are missing your pinky finger on your right hand, it's annoying but it doesn't make you any less capable than anyone else. The NFB provides measures of helping you attain  your full potential and assists you in achieving your goals. There are blind welders and blind painters even blind people who have climbed to the top of Mount Everest. The NFB is also a positive support when faced with prejudice and discrimination  in the work place or other institutions. The NFB helps people fight many battles of inequality due to blindness. My own parents have benefitted from the help of the NFB in this matter. The airlines wanted to take away their right to walk by refusing to let them keep their canes with them on the plane. 
The CNIB see themselves as the facilitator of happiness for their recipients. They believe that through their products and support, their recipients are able to live a more enjoyable and hopeful life, as much as they can without their eyesight. They see themselves as the light at the end of the tunnel. They unfortunately do not have programs or services that help their recipients personally grow and prosper. The CNIB "needs to be needed" by blind people they perceive as perpetual clients. The more they're needed, the more funds they can raise from the public.
Many people especially in Canada see names like the CNIB and believe they are helping their recipients achieve a better life without really looking into what the agency does to help their recipients help themselves. Many people believe when an organization claims to be helping their recipients that they truly are doing so.  Donors need to look into the three aspects of an organization as explained above, respect, education and hand up or handout, to determine if an organization is truly helping their recipients. People need to stop being blinded by the glamour of good intentions. 
 "NFB- What Is the National Federation of the Blind?". National Federation of the Blind. Nov 24 2009 http://www.nfb.org/nfb/Who_We_Are.asp?SnID=983196946
 "CNIB- Vision Support". CNIB. Nov 24 2009. http://www.cnib.ca/en/services/vision-support/Default.aspx

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