ABU(Junior Group) Fine Work
"How Braille Has Changed my Life"
Sri Lanka Ishara Lakmal Nuwansiri (25/Male)

“Without vision was the book taken to be read”
“Without strength did you expect to win the fight”
(Above is a popular Sinhala saying)
The first line of the saying is most relevant to the theme I have chosen. That line indicates that the blind cannot read. This was the position in Sri Lanka a hundred years ago. However, the saying does not apply to Sri Lanka presently thanks to Louis Braille and Mary F. Chapman (the founder of the first school for the blind in Ratmalana, Sri Lanka). Even with regard to me that first line is not correct.
If not for the Braille system, I wonder what fate would have befallen a blind person such as me. I may have become a burden on my family or else I may have become a beggar and a burden on society. However, thanks to my education I am today an independent self reliant individual. I am proud to be in this position today due to my Braille education and my fingertips serve as my eyes and help me to enhance my knowledge and education of other worldly affairs. Instead of being a cancer to society as a blind person, today I am in the forefront of the forward march due to Braille.
I commenced learning Braille even before I had completed 5 years and that was in my village school. Even before I reached the school going age, I was taken to school by a kind benefactor. I nostalgically recall this noteworthy event in my life. This same benefactor came and taught me Braille on two days a week, which indeed was the foundation for my future enlightment.
I then joined the school for the Blind in Ratmalana. In actual fact this era marked the transformation of my entire life. Braille was the quintessence of my success. I studied at a residential school and so was confined to its precincts. Due to this I was able to learn to perform many activities on my own and develop positive attitudes. I was able to do washing, ironing and folding of clothes on my own at school. At school, I obtained training in mobility and orientation. I received all these supplementary abilities because I joined the school to learn Braille.Therefore, I consider Braille as the pivot on which all my incidental development gravitated.
In my early days, i lay on the laps of y brothers and sisters and listened to the stories and poems they read.As I grew older, I used my touch to read and obtain the joy of reaping its benefits.
If I had not grasped the Braille method, perhaps even today I would have had to listen to others read for me. However, today I am able to read on my own and derive utmost satisfaction from same.
When there had been a possibility of my having been a burden on society, today I am graduate having obtained University education. At times, I myself am amazed at the giant strides I have achieved in the academic field.
From General certificate of Education (Ordinary Level) to GCE (Advance Level) and thereon to graduation overcoming all obstacles in life using my knowledge of Braille. My positive attitudes and educational advancement was solely due to Braille.
The Child Protection Institute carried out an island wide survey of over 13,000 children and chose a 200-member Children’s Parliament.The objective was to obtain the views and opinions of children for the United Nations Charter on Child Rights. I was fortunate to be amongst the chosen few of this Children’s Parliament. I was able to obtain this rare and privileged opportunity to raise a voice for the disabled due to my knowledge of Braille. This opportunity also helped to transform my life in a positive manner.
When I look back on the long journey I have travelled, it brings me much joy and pleasure. By passing the two vital milestones of my school and University education I was able to alter the course of my life in the right direction. The knowledge obtained from reading higher grade books and adopting positive attitudes I was able to become a humanitarian and social adherent. I even wonder that if I had not been disabled, I may not have advanced to this extent in my education nor a humanitarian member of society.
Thus I consider Braille as the golden shining dawn star which transformed my life and correctly guided my destiny.

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