In 2006, FOP founders, Steve and Pam Zicker, were approached by a single 8th grade blind student who was facing a problem living on his owIMG_1337Timkat Celebration 037n and completing his education.   His simple request for help has evolved into the Visually Impaired Sponsorship and Support Program (VISSP) that is managed by an NGO partner, ORE, and has impacted more than 100 students since 2007.

           To date, more than 40 students have graduated from University or College programs through this program!

Please consider sponsoring one of our waiting students by clicking HERE to get started.

Why the Need?  Ethiopia has more than 35,000 blind or visually impaired in need of services. The enormity of the problem and scarcity of resources creates a huge dilemma which often leaves visually impaired children IMG_4066without options for education and assistance.  Their families are often forced to send them to boarding schools located in a few key cities, or keep them at home.  Many are exploited for the purpose of begging at churches and in large cities.  Our students are referred from the Mekele Boarding School for the Blind, which educates and houses more than 90 children from age 7 up to 18.  When children reach 8th grade, they are forced to leave due to space limitations and are expected to re-enter the public school system to complete their education.  Unfortunately, many of the students are either orphaned or have family living in the countryside where no schools are equipped to teach visually impaired students. With no family support, they are forced to enroll in a local school, rent a small house on their own, and live independently while trying to complete their education. The VISSP program exists to meet the needs of these students iblind students graduation (187)n this 9th grade to University completion window, in an effort to provide them with the education necessary for independent living for years to come.  Through the VISSP, 60 visually impaired students receive monthly social worker follow-up, medical assistance, critical materials such as voice recorders, canes, and slates, and monthly stipends to help them with rent and food while they strive to live on their own and complete their education.
The VISSP Resource Room has also been established at ORE equipped with 15 computers supplied with JAWS software and assistive technology devices along with Braille typewriters and Braille printers to enable students to have greater chances of success in school and the community.  Sponsors in the U.S. are matched with students and provide just $25 per month to fund these programs.  Sponsors are able to communicate with their student via email andPam with the blind students (44) letters and photos sent over with FOP representatives bi-annually.  All sponsors receive bi-annual reports on the progress of their student.

dsc04425  dsc04441   Pam with the blind students (39)

 Please consider sponsoring one of our waiting students by clicking HERE to get started.