Braille Without Borders
Motto: The right to be blind without being disabled.
“Sort of keeping an eye out for those who don’t have them”, is one of the ways in which Fr Mike Parent SJ describes his role at a vocational school run by Braille Without Borders in Tibet.
The Darjeeling Jesuit Province seconded Fr Mike to the centre, 250km west of Lhasa, to set up a blind friendly organic kitchen gardening/composting component and to teach a course in organic farming. This was at the invitation of Braille Without Borders and the Tibet Disabled Persons Federation, a government entity of which the school forms part.
The organic farming is “one of the things I do”, says Fr Mike. There is much more as he undertakes tasks as diverse as book keeping, driving, helping children train in the gym, and planning with the project’s “power people”, Adron and Ngawang – all the staff and students at the centre are local. “I usually just listen a lot,” he continues.
The vocational centre offers courses in weaving, knitting, artisan cheese-making and baking, animal husbandry, medicinal massage, and traditional Tibetan music. The centre also provides accommodation and assistance to blind students studying in government schools in the Shigatse prefecture and publishes textbooks in Braille for them.
The vocational school is one of three centres run by the NGO Braille Without Borders in India and Tibet. While Braille Without Borders is private, it operates in Tibet as a department of the government’s Tibet Disabled Persons Federation.
Visit the Braille Without Borders website: http://www.braillewithoutborders.org