The United Nations has presented the Bible Society of Costa Rica with an award for its work to help blind and visually impaired people. The award was presented last week to Bible Society General Secretary Mayra Ugalde.
“We’ve been partnering with the government and other institutions to help improve the lives of blind people and raise awareness of their needs for around four years,” explains Mayra. “The public institutions with whom we work recognise the important role that the Bible can play in people’s lives, especially those with disabilities.
“Last year, a member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities visited Costa Rica to observe the results of this partnership between the State and civic organisations, including the Bible Society. She was so impressed by what is happening here that she proposed that Costa Rica’s experience should be shared at the June 2015 United Nations Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“Ms. Ileana Chacón, a blind person who has benefited from this work, represented Costa Rica at the convention and brought us our gift from the United Nations last week. It is a silver bell, which serves as a symbol of how our activities draw attention to the need for change when it comes to society’s attitudes to people with disabilities. We remain dedicated to this cause.”
Ingrid Felber-Bischof, United Bible Societies’ Global Coordinator Programs for People with Visual Disabilities, says that the award is well deserved.
“It is wonderful to see Mayra and her team get this level of recognition for their powerful and empowering program,” she notes. “Just recently their inclusive Braille/print Bible verse calendar was acknowledged as part of Costa Rica’s national heritage and archived in the National Library, and now the United Nations have honoured their work, too.
Innovative and inspiring
“Their work in this area has been full of innovative and inspiring elements since the early days: they’ve made Common Language translations of the Gospels and some Old Testament stories available in Braille for the first time; they’ve created supportive communities for blind people and their families; they’ve advocated for blind people in society and government; and they’ve held very creative and well-publicised events, including their very popular ‘Dinner in the Dark’.
“We are excited at what is happening in Costa Rica and are looking into ways that they can share their learning and experience with other Bible Societies.”