Magical School of Inspiration
By Paul Sinclair (One World One People) 19/9/00
Hello champions, how is everyone? I am now in
Lhasa and on a learning curve, parabolic in nature, y = x2 or something.
What a place to be! For now I will try my best to relate another
incredible bit of fortune I have just had, to all of you.
For some reason, some Tibetans, especially
in rural areas, have come to the terrible misunderstanding that
children born blind, are born that way because they must have been
very bad in their previous lives.
no obstacle for these two young champions learning to type Braille
| As a result, they tend to
lock their blind children away in dark rooms and keep them chained
to their beds. Fortunately for these children, though, there is hope.
I happened to be very privileged to
be guided with some friends to an ordinary, plain looking, little
house in the middle of a Tibetan area of Lhasa. Inside we met some
amazing, wonderful, very affectionate, blind children being cared
for by a very special European couple. One of them was a blind German
lady who just doesn't seem to understand what the words 'no' or
'you can't' mean. The other, is her very supportive and equally
determined, full-sighted, Dutch husband. Through fate, they met
and decided to address this problem of Tibetan blind children, no
matter what the cost. For two years they have struggled against
the Chinese Government. They have found that they get continually
frustrated in most things they do, with mountains of red tape. After
two years of battling, they have now earnt a modicum of respect
from the government and won allies for their cause and have even
been allowed, for the moment, to stay indefinitely in Tibet. They
have also been featured on Chinese Television and built a reputation
through out Tibet.
They have successfully invented a Tibetan version
of Braille and now teach blind children to speak, read and type
Tibetan, Chinese, English and Maths. To give you an example of what
they are achieving, we met one boy named Tetzin, who had spend nine
years chained to a bed, before his parents heard about the school
and not being able to find enough food to feed him anymore, took
him there. After mixing with the other children and learning that
he wasn't the only one that was blind, he started to make friends
and build some self-confidence. The other children naturally adopted
him and began to teach him. They have all been taught to look after
each other and the older, more learned, children look after and
help teach the younger children. After two years, young Tetzin returned
to his village to visit his parents. About the same time, a group
of foreigners arrived in the village, but none of them could speak
Tibetan. Furthermore none of the villagers could speak any English.
So some of the village children pushed Tetzin forward and said 'this
guy can speak English'. So Tetzin said ' Hello, my name is Tetzin.
I am eleven years old and I am fine thank you.' After this Tetzin
was the village hero, because he could do something that none of
the other villagers could do.
These children are incredible and just talking
and playing with them has taught me a new version of the word 'inspiration'.
Down the track, the couple hope to find more of these blind children,
educate them and their parents and teach them such livelihoods as
Chinese and Tibetan massage and accupressure, herding, book keeping,
secretarial skills and crafts.
To anyone who has seen a need in a community
and wants to actively do something about it: Take inspiration from
this couple and never give up!
That's all for now champions, take care of yourselves.
new friends with the inspiring children of the Tibetan Project
of the Blind