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“My ears are my eyes”

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Hawa Ramadan, 42, lives in a camp for the internally displaced in Tripoli. She was born with a disability © OCHA/GilesClarke

“My ears are my eyes,” said Oriana Salazar. She suffers from a condition that progressively diminishes her vision. “When I have to go to the market, I feel I am in a maze.”

Honking cars and roaring engines warn Salazar when she is too close to traffic. Footsteps or loud voices let her know if there are people nearby.

Salazar, 32, lives in Carúpano, a city in eastern Venezuela. Her elderly mother has always shopped for the household. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, Salazar prefers that her mother stays home.

A staff member from the non-governmental organization (NGO) Caritas Venezuela accompanies Salazar to the market, which is 6 km away. Caritas’s advocacy in her city helped Salazar understand how to lower the risk the virus presents to her and her family.

One billion people live with a disability (approximatively 15 per cent of the world’s population), 80 per cent of whom live in developing countries. People with disabilities face a higher risk of contracting the virus, according to the World Health Organization. And with few employment opportunities, they are extremely vulnerable members of our community.

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