WBU-AP(Senior group) Fine Work
“HOW BRAILLE HAS CHANGED MY LIFE”
Vietnam Khong Thanh Thuy(29/female)
Time goes by very quickly.It has been twenty years since I became a member of our association.My difficulties have been marked by changes in my life. Now I am integrated into society in my hometown where I try to achieve as much as I can through Braille.
I am a blind woman and my blindness was due to infection by Agent Orange when my father was fighting in the war against America.My house was near the school and I could hear the drum-beat from the school every day.It stirred me up and wakened dreams in me about the future - I longed to go to school although the possibility seemed a distant reality.My childhood was filled with sadness, loneliness and tastelessnessas I felt doomed for ever to a life of darkness surrounded by stone-cold walls.
One day in 1990 a sudden happiness came to me.The Blind Association in DongHungDistrict called me to take part in a Braille training course.The teacher gave me instruction in reading and writing Braille, rehabilitation techniques and vocational skills.After a while I could read Braille and my association helped me to apply for admission to a senior secondary school attended by sighted pupils in the town of Dong Hung.
On the first day, my teacher took me to the class-room and I could feel hundreds of eyes concentrating on me.Somebody said ironically, "She is blind. For nothing she goes to school."
When I took notes with my slate and stylus, the pupils complained, "What is this noise?"
During recess time, all the students gathered around me.Some of them rubbed my head, some pulled my hair, some took away my books, while others waved their hands in front of me to find out if I could see anything.No one was sympathetic towards me and I tried hard to swallow my tears.
After that day's experience, I wanted to leave the school in order to avoid all that teasing.However, my teacher was very encouraging and she told me many stories of people who overcame their troubles and difficulties.So at last I decided I would stay on, study hard and try to do better than the other students.
Knowing of my discouragement, my family gave me much support.At first I would walk to school every day with my older sister.Later on, I was able to travel on my own with the use of the white cane.
At school I tried to follow all the lessons as best as I could.As I had no textbooks, I would ask those students sitting near me to read to me and I took down notes.I focused hard on what the teachers said and I would answer questions or express ideas with excitement and enthusiasm.After some time, the feelings of my class-mates towards me changed and they began to give me a lot of support in my studiesand other activities.They took turns to bring me to school or back home, others would help me with note-taking, and some of them would present me with textbooks, clothes or even money.
In the year 2000, I graduated from secondary school.I then applied for university and got a reply from the Ministry of Education saying that there was no such policy for admission of blind students.I did not give up but made another application for in-service training at the University of Social Science and Humanities.This time I accompanied the application with a letter of support and introduction from Mrs. Vu Hong Chin of the Central Vietnam Blind Association.I was glad I made the right move because I was accepted immediately for admission.
The following year I entered universsity and I received many awards from the Vietnam Blind Association.During the four years in tertiary education, I wrote many articles and sent them to the newspapers such as the Vietnamese Women News, Youth News, and others.This enabled me to get plenty of support from friends and organisations, including the Association of Youth, Association of Fellow Countrymen, Association of Victims of Agent Orange, and so on.I was pursuing the course in Pedagogy and faced many difficulties in my studies but I felt greatly encouraged.I successfully defended my graduating treatise and obtained a score of 9.5 out of ten.
In 2006 my association sent me for training as a Braille and computer teacher.In order to pay for my travel and transport, I continued to write for the newspapers; in addition, I opened up a tuition centre at my home for sighted students.Initially, I had only six pupils.Eventually, word spread about my qualified training and the number of students gradually increased.By 2007 I was running three classes for two weeks per week.Thus, both my writings and teaching were a great help to me in earning a little extra income for my needs.
Indeed, I am most grateful to the association for having brought light, happiness and success to me through Braille.Due to the system of six tiny Braille dots, I am now able to live a life of normality and equality with other sighted people.Truly, Braille has changed me and my life for ever!
Because of Braille, I am no longer fearful of the future.I have the strength to face all challenges with courage and determination.My only wish now is to be able to contribute to society by helping other blind people to overcome their fate by learning and using Braille.
In closing, I would like to conclude with the words in this little poem:
"Thank you very much, Louis Braille;
Your works have never been forgotten".