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Blind mechanic keeps cars moving in Zambia

posted 5 Dec 2012, 09:48 by Mpelembe   [ updated 5 Dec 2012, 09:49 ]

Zambian mechanic Beyyg Mboozi may be blind but he is able to fix cars and offer quality competitive services for clients living in Lusaka.

LUSAKAZAMBIA  (REUTERS) - Beyyg Mboozi is not your ordinary mechanic; he cannot see what he fixes, he uses his senses to guide him as he works on cars in LusakaZambia's capital.

Mboozi was not born blind, he lost his eyesight 10 years ago after suffering from glaucoma, an eye disease that restricts ones vision and is the second leading cause of blindness in the world.

But this did not stop the 32-year-old from pursuing his dream of owning a car repair business; he usually works from his clients' premises or here at the Zambia Library and Cultural Centre for the Blind.

Mboozi says he's trying to make a name for himself as one of the best mechanics in town, as well as change perceptions about blind people.

"I learnt mechanics before I became blind. This is my main source of income which helps me support my family. I can fix any kind of car including heavy duty trucks which were in fact my specialty before I got blind. My main challenge is lack specialized tools to work with, so I do not have as many clients as I would love to. Maybe the government should help blind people like myself acquire these tools cheaply," said Mboozi.

Mboozi has been able to attract a number of customers like Tamara Soko who says that he does a good job.

"He has actually loosened up the timing belt, what they call the timing belt and he has even tightened the grill, the front part where we put water to help cooling of the vehicle and he is doing a good job right now, I don't doubt him and I know my car is in safe hands," said Soko.

In a good month Mboozi makes about 400 US dollars.

Apart from fixing cars, Mboozi is also a student and after work he attends computer classes at the cultural centre and later spends time at the centre's studio to learn some deejay skills. He hopes this will help him increase his income in future.

According to the government, at least one percent of Zambia's 13 million people are blind and 80 percent of that blindness is avoidable.

Many blind people in the country also still don't have access to adequate facilities such as technology for the visually impaired making it even harder to access jobs.

Felix Silwimba, the director of Zambia's agency for people with disability says that more support is needed in the country if disabled people are to find more work opportunities.

"They (Blind people) can play a role in every industry. You go into sports itself, they are part of the paralympic teams also, we haven't just had focused ourselves right and for me I think those are the areas we need to focus on. We need to encourage our disabled persons organisations themselves to start focusing on talents," he said.

According to health charity, Sightsavers, eye diseases are among the top ten killer diseases in Zambiawith Cataracts and glaucoma being the biggest causes of eye problems.