WBU-AP(Senior group) Fine WorkI still remember the day when Braille came into my life. Learning to produce Braille dots with the slate and stylus was like playing a game - It was so amazing and exciting. It was totally different from the way I used to write with the pen. It did not occur to me then that Braille could have any importance in my life.
“How Braille Changed My Life And Brought Me Success”
Philippines Analynne Baulita(36/Female)
Although I was born with low vision, it was a real struggle for me during my years in school. While I could read and write in large print, the textbooks and the examination questions were not legible to me even with the use of magnifying lenses. When it came to learning mathematics, I could not see what was written on the board as the teacher gave the lesson. Thus, a reader always had to be beside me to help me look at the examination questions.
My visual disability filled me with frustrations and limitations - I was powerless to do anything. I suffered from discrimination because other students under-estimated my abilities. I sank into self-pity and I began to ask myself, "Is this my fate as a visually impaired person? Do I deserve to be born blind?"
Indeed, in the year of 2002, I became totally blind. Life was turning for the worst and I felt a sense of hopelessness. I remained in this sorry state for a period of two months. It was at this darkest moment in my life when I was introduced to Braille - the hour when I was most in need of a way out. Braille led me out of the darkness and brought me into the light. Braille gave me the courage to go on living in spite of my blindness.
Since childhood, I had dreamt of becoming involved in church work. In 2003 I discovered a religious group which was willing to accept me and to give me the chance to prove that I was capable of becoming a nun. Indeed, it was Braille that helped to make everything easy as I lived in the Convent. One of my assignments was to set the dining-table every morning. Of course, identifying who owned the cups by the colours or designs was not possible for me. So I hit upon a plan - I would put Braille labels on the bottom of each cup instead. For Instance, I would put one dot to indicate my superior's cup and two dots to indicate my formator's cup. Thus, I was able to set the breakfast table every morning and I could do it independently.
Braille labels also made it easy to select books, CD's or DVD's. With the help of the Braille Bible, Braille prayer-book and Braille song-book, I was able to participate in the daily devotions, community prayer and other activities involving reading and writing.
Truly, Braille made it possible for me to live in the Convent as independently as I could. The sisters treated me like a normal person, they gave me the space to grow, and I felt a sense of empowerment.
At first I helped out in the school for sighted pre-schoolers. I read stories to the children and they were amazed as they watched my fingers skimming over the Braille dots. It was so different from the way the sighted would read from the printed page. At their young age, they were beginning to learn about the capabilities of the blind.
Later, I joined the mission of the nuns to help the blind. I had to teach Braille to the mentally-challenged blind which broadened my understanding of suffering and showed me what perseverance meant. I realised that I was an instrument being used by God to bring assistance and joy to other blind people.
Another great experience for me in serving God was the opportunity to present the Reading during the Mass. The congregation marvelled at my ability to read so fluently by just touching the Braille dots.
However, two days before my entrance as postulant, I had to make one of the most difficult decisions in my life. After agonizing over the matter for some time, I finally decided to leave the Convent. This had nothing to do with my blindness - I just felt that I needed more discernment. Although I have left the Convent, I can still say that I had succeeded. Being in the Convent was the best thing that had ever happened to me. During my stay there, life became meaningful because I could give to others with the help of Braille. I became aware that blindness need not be a hindrance to living - it did not hinder me in my desire to become involved in the church. I am certain that if I were meant for the church vocation, it will be fulfilled.
With the help of Braille, I took up a Massage course and I passed the licensure examination. I became a licensed Masseur and received many congratulations from relatives and friends.
If I had to choose between my life then as a low vision person or my life now as a totally blind person, I would definitely choose the latter. In everything that I wanted to do before, my nagging thought was, "I Couldn't". Now, without fear or doubt in my heart, I know "I Could".
With Braille, I had a weapon to deal with the challenges of life. Braille helped me fight the fear of total darkness and forge a path to the sources of light. Braille restored my self-confidence and gave me the strength and courage to show the World that I am not limited by my blindness. Braille has taught me not to be afraid of what I am and it has enabled me to accept blindness as a blessing, thereby strengthening my faith in God.
Yes indeed, I am blind no more and no less; I am able, not unable. I am like everybody else except that I do things differently. Braille has made it possible for me to live a normal and independent life.
I could not imagine another life without Braille. I thank God for everything,
especially for giving us Louis Braille, the inventor of the Braille system.