5th Onkyo Braille Essay Contest
This contest was created with the hope of establishing a bridge for the visually impaired between the worlds of braille and sound. Our call for entries went out in March, 2007(or later, depending on the region). We subsequently received 88 essays from within Japan; 23 from six countries in the Asia-Pacific region; 40 from eleven countries in the Middle East and Central and Southern Asia regions; and 62 from nineteen counties in the inaugural Europe region. We are truly grateful for all the moving essays we received in this contest.
This year, as usual, we are donating a Japanese or English version of a braille book containing all the prize-winning essays to relevant groups in participating regions, as well as to community groups for the visually impairedin other countries around the world. This way, the wave of emotions can spread out even further.
This year, the Onkyo Braille Essay Contest passes the milestone of its fifth year. This contest began in Japan and has spread out in a wave to the Asia-Pacific region and to the Middle East and Central and Southern Asia regions. From this year, the Europe region has been added. I take great pleasure in seeing Eastern and Western cultures connecting through the common language of braille.
First, may I offer my congratulations to Mr. Yau Wai Lok Billy(22) of Hong Kong. His essay. "Braille and Audio Equipment Enriched My Life." won our highest award in the Asia-Pacific region, the Otsuki Prize. His story told of his experiences in creating a lifestyle like that of fully sighted people, by learning to use braille, an MP3 player and a computer with confidence. It would be wonderful if we could spread this spirit throughout the world.
Winning the Otsuki Prize in the Middle East and Central and Southern Asia region was Mr. Riensie Benedict(61) of Sri Lanka, with his essay. "For World Peace-An Appeal from My Experience." The damaging effects of war are felt especially keenly by those with disabilities, meaning that they can often have an even deeper desire for peace than the fully able-bodied. For this reason, disabled people can be a strong voice for peace on everyone's behalf. I was very moved by Mr. Benedict's appeal for peace, based on his experiences. Now, I hope to share his peaceful message with the rest of the world.
Next, Mr. Milan Djuric(22) of Serbia won the Otsuki Prize in the inaugural Europe region with "Braille changed my life." This essay also drew on experiences of the horror of war. By discovering braille in the depths of strife and darkness, however, he managed to conjure a sense of hope for the future. My sincere best wishes go out to him.
Finally, Ms. Toshiyo Imai won our highest award in the Japan section, the Otsuki Prize, with "Brighten My Life-Open the Eyes of My Heart." I was touched by her tenacity to overcome her difficult circumstances by accepting the words. "I can cope." even though at first she didn't really believe in herself. She fought against the awful fate that had her losing more than just her eyesight. Nevertheless, she managed to enjoy reading braille books and listening to music. What's more, she was able to enjoy sensing the atmosphere around her, even in the middle of a town. Her guide dog, Kiki, also plays a big role in helping her to be socially active. I found her story to be well written and engaging.
In conclusion, we would like to thank all of the applicants for their magnificent work. We also wish to express our gratitude to the Mainichi Shinbun Corporation, who supported this event, as well as to the Asian Blind Union (ABU), the World Blind Union Asia-Pacific (WBU-AP), the European Blind Union (EBU), and all of the local organizations overseas.