WBU-AP(Junior Group) Excellent Work
Spirit Whip: Overcoming The Challenges Of Living With Blindness
Indonesia
Adam Pratama Putra (20, Male )

BLIND! It is not a strange word to all of us. You hear it everywhere - in the mass media, the electronic media and by word of mouth. However, despite such familiarity with the word, many consider blind people to be bothersome, annoying or even burdensome. They think that blind people are incapable of doing anything and they have to depend totally on others for their survival. Sighted people cannot imagine that blind people can work like normal people. These sighted people hold such stereotyped views of the blind because they are themselves blinded by wrong thinking and negative perceptions.
Even until today, there are people who have little sympathy for the blind. For instance, they may see a blind person crossing the street; yet they are not moved to lend a helping hand. They can only stand and watch, and when they see that the blind person is in some danger, they will simply shout, "Hey, be careful!"
In fact, they are merely mouthing out words of warning but their hearts are not moved to take action. In my view, they are actually blinder than the blind!
Truly, this has been my experience as a blind person. I often wonder why these people cannot see or realise that I am blind. They do not seem to understand anything at all even when they see me walking with my White Cane. Instead, they are tickled to laughter when I bump into them by accident. There would be some of them who would even mock me with very rude words.
When I am faced with such a situation, I will say to myself, "Istighfar!" (An act of asking for forgiveness in Islam). This will cool me down, sooth my pain and bring healing to my saddened heart. Then I will become high-spirited as I find myself laying hold of the Spirit-Whip that urges me on to succeed. This fills me with confidence, toughens me up and I become determined to show all the people around me that I am an ordinary person even though I am blind. I gain new strength to go forward in order to lead a normal and independent life.
My parents have played a crucial role in helping me to develop a positive self-perception. Thanks to them, I was sent to a special school for the blind known as the SBL-A YPAB. There I learned to read and write in Braille and this enabled me to study so many other subjects like the Indonesian language, English, the Natural Sciences, the Social Sciences, Information and Communications Technology, and Religion. I learned to read the Quran in Braille and to use the Quranic Braille Code. Most important of all, I had the opportunity to develop my music skills. Thus, I was able to take up music as a hobby and eventually I became a music teacher. Indeed, it was Braille that had helped to make all this possible for me.
Later on, I learned to use the computer which was equipped with the JAWS screen-reader programme. With the help of JAWS, I was able to type out my work on the computer and to "read" the words on the screen as they were spoken out to me through JAWS.
besides JAWS, I had another screen-reader programme known as TALKS. With the installation of TALKS on my handphone, I am able to read the information or messages displayed on the screen. Hence, there is no necessity for me to trouble my sighted friends.
Indeed, it was at the YPAB school that I had recorded many achievements, particularly in music. I learned to play the guitar and keyboard and became a vocalist. In fact, I recorded my first achievement when I was in my second year in elementary school. I took part in a singing competition and I sang the song "Anak Gembala" or "The Shepherd Boy". I won the first prize for the very first time and this made me extremely happy. Since then, I had been representing my school in many more competitions and events.
I believe my most glorious moment came when I represented my school to sing and to read a poem at the East Java Governor's office. The Governor was Mr. Imam Sutomo. I sang the song "Bunda" or "Mother" by Melly Goeslaw and I read the poem entitled "Ibu" or "Mother" of which I myself was the composer. The majority of the guests who had been invited were mothers and my poem touched the hearts of everyone who heard my recital of the poem. The wife of Mr. Sutomo congratulated me and she gave me a warm hug. She said that I was like her grandson. My spirit glowed and I felt that the recognition was worth even more than the cash prize that had been awarded to me. By performing before Mr. Sutomo, I was able to stand tall and to feel proud of my achievement.
When I was in junior high, I got together with some friends to set up a music band. Our band took on the name of Riglet, which was taken from the name of the Braille writing tool for the blind.
One day, our band went to Jakarta to perform before an audience of 3,000 successful Indonesian Entrepreneuhs. It was such a wonderful experience being for the first time in Jakarta and for the first time ever in travelling outbound by plane.
In addition to music, I am also enjoying my hobby of writing. I started by writing short stories and poems and later I even did news reports. In fact, I had created many works such as "Suara Emas" or "Golden Voice", "Jalan Kehidupan" or "Life's Journey", and "Musisi Tunanetra" or "Blind Musicians". I had also won in a number of writing competitions, the most memorable of which was the one to which I had sent my first piece of creative writing, "Jalan Kehidupan", and I won a prize.
Until today, I have been writing and playing music. I do all these things because I want to change the people's mind and thinking regarding the blind. My purpose is to bring awareness to the general public that blind people are capable of living a normal and independent life. Like everybody else, the blind have the right to education which will enable them to function normally in social life and in employment. This is what education and Braille have done for me as a blind person.

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