EBU Otsuki Award
Braille Can Make You Fly
Italy Roobi Roobi (18/Female)
photo:Ms María Jesús SÁNCHEZ OLIVA
Hello everybody!

My name is Roobi, I am 18 years old and I live in Castano Primo, in the province of Milan. Originally I am from Pakistan, but I have been living in Italy since 2004. I decided to take part in this contest because I would like to share a part of the most beautiful thing I have: my life; how I live it in spite of being visually impaired and how I got to know Braille.

I was born with Congenital Glaucoma so I have serious eye problems. Moreover, the place where I was born didn’t have any facilities or any instruments to help me, and, in that small town, people think that a person with a disability can’t even have a “normal” life. In fact at the nursery school my teachers never appreciated me although I was the best pupil in the class, and this used to drive me really crazy.

Most of the people around the world have a stereotyped idea about visually impaired people: they usually expect to see an unsure, needy and very slowly walking person, possibly carrying a white cane or wearing sun glasses. This strange concept has always frustrated me the most because I have always been a whole new ball game for them: I “run” instead of walk and I never care about hurting myself, I am very talkative, I love learning new things, I am very keen on learning languages and I love travelling around the world and meeting new people.

When I moved to Italy my life changed! I discovered a great world where I could do everything in spite of having eye problems: at school, my teachers always loved me for my great spirit and my will to learn everything. They helped me a lot, the school provided me with an assistant teacher and many instruments that could help me such as magnifiers, personalized lap top with screen reader etc.

I made a lot of progress and so I was very happy, but I was not completely satisfied because with the assistant teacher and the screen reader I was not completely independent and that’s what I always wished to be.

Then finally thanks to a friend of my dad, on 14th October 2010 I met Danilo Belloni who opened me a new world: “THE WORLD OF BRAILLE”. I was really amazed for the way he could do everything so fast in spite of being blind, I loved the way he read so quickly that strange code language and in that moment I told myself that I had to learn Braille because it was the secret that would change my life completely. It would destroy all the boundaries that had prevented me from seeing and admiring the world around me till that moment, it was the answer to all my questions and it was everything that I had been waiting for. Every year, in fact, on 14th October I celebrate my first Braille day and I have named it as “Ali di Libertà” which is the Italian for “Wings of Freedom”.

To be honest, firstly I was a bit afraid of learning Braille because I felt myself different from the other teenagers; in fact I was so confused that I stopped practicing it for almost two years. But in that period of time my sight became weaker and my parents didn’t even let me go out alone: I became very unhappy because I couldn’t find a solution to all those problems.

But Danilo taught me that in life everything happens at the right time and my right time for restarting to learn Braille finally arrived after last summer when I was in Spain for an English course organized by ONCE. During this course I met such fantastic and admirable friends who helped me to understand that all my fears were pointless, that I don’t have to feel myself different from others just because I use a different way to do the same things.

When I came back home I was so happy about that holiday, my friends wrote me a lot of letters and most of them were in Braille, and I didn’t know how to read them because it had been ages since I practiced to read the Braille code. Then I decided to come out from all my pointless fears and to restart with Braille, not only to read my friends’ letters, but also because at school I had more difficulties in reading.

Since then I have practiced it everyday for one hour and now I have improved my reading skills a lot and you know what? I LOVE BRAILLE! It made my life great: the more time passes by, the more conscious I get of how useful it can be: I can find it everywhere, in lifts, in restaurant’s menus, on medicines, and above all, I CAN READ ALL THE BOOKS I WANT because up to now my parents got angry when they saw me reading digitals books late at night, but now I can read whenever I want, even at midnight!

I regret having wasted so much time behind silly fears, but it’s never too late in life! I would like to advise all people to learn it, although if don’t have sight problems because I think it could be helpful when people become elder, so that they can read everything without using their eyes. Above all, I would like to prove to all those people who still believe that the true reality is only what they see that they are wrong, and I am sure that after having learnt Braille they will change their mind! Because as the little prince says “it’s only with the heart one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eyes!”

Despite all the problems I have met on my path, I’ve never lost heart, on the contrary I have become stronger and stronger every day, because I was happy with myself, for what I could do and what I had. Thanks to all the tools I have learnt to use and especially Braille, I feel more sure and independent and I just hope that new technological instruments will not replace Braille because it’s true that they are very comfortable to use but with Braille they could be even more useful.

To conclude, I would only say that life is too beautiful to be wasted by waiting to be accepted by other people around you: just accept yourself! Be happy and be proud for what you are and what you can do!


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