Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Visit to Malaysian Association for the Blind

I was glad to begin year 2009 with such a meaningful day. Serving community service organized by PETRONAS, I had the chance to visit Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) in Brickfields. Part of the new executive training, we were required to design activities for the blind people but out of our surprises, the MAB principal decided to plan the activities to surprise us. We virtually reached there without a clue what to expect.
I was so worried that I might step into a gloomy hut where many blind people started to complain and weep. I realized the thought was absolutely silly! We were welcomed by cheerful Geofrey, a blind graduate from University of Malaya. Watching him deliver a lively speech with Braille note, we were all deeply touched. Later, we were shown a short video clip on their Mt. Kinabalu conquer. Personally, I climbed Mt. Kinabalu before and I knew exactly how challenging it was. To me, they were more than heroes, but living proves that determination was invincible. According to the principal, they were planning to conquer Mt. Tahan, which was more challenging and thrilling.

Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) in Tun Sambanthan.

Touring the centre, we knew more about the MAB facilities. MAB is a place for blind people to learn their skills and having fun, such as Braille reading, learning massage techniques, friendship networking etc. By then, we knew how blind people read, use computer, carry out sports and recreation activities etc. We were paired with a blind buddy each to interact and communicate. A blind person can officially declare blind for 3 level – B1, B2 and B3 (Total blindness, visual impaired and blur vision). My blind buddy, Rostam, was fully blind since born. We chatted about living, activities, future and so on. Throughout the conversation, I had not heard him complaining a single thing about his life even though he had not seen the world before. At that particular moment, I was so ashamed of myself. We complaint how ugly is the colour of a shirt, we complaint how dark is the sky, we complaint how bad is the building design, we complaint how ridiculous is the movie, on and on….

My cheerful buddy, Rostam, who has the positive attitude about his life. My full respect.

My buddy was a skillful massager. He was due to finish his course in this May. Of course, I was more than willing when he asked me to become his practice subject. Huh…. That was such an awesome experience, a first class massage. I was no doubt that he could pass his test with flying colour. He told me that he hoped to earn living by himself with this skill. It was a fine Friday. So, after lunch, Rostam would have to walk for almost 1 km to reach the mosque for praying. As a non-Muslim, I stayed in the centre and chatted with other colleagues. We were all touched by many different true stories – some lost their eyesight after brain cancer or accidents, some born with blindness, some gradually became blind out of no reason etc. The most heartbroken one was about a little girl who could not see, hear and talk. All she could interact was by hand touching signal.

Afternoon activities were fun. We had the chance to experience their leisure activities. I played goal ball (blind hand ball) and blind ping pong. How? By hearing of course, you can imagine the difficulty. Our day ended with ‘We Are The Champion’ song and whole-hearted speech. The day was unforgettable, the day that I remind myself how to cherish life, how to appreciate everything in my life, how to treasure each moment you can see…. No doubt this visit changes the perspective on how I view life. I will always remember this day before I complain something.

Any donation to Malaysian Association for the Blind:
P.O. Box No. 10687, Kuala Lumpur 50722.
You can donate, to be a volunteer or to provide employment for the blind. MAB is just off the Tun Sambathan station in Brickfields. Around Jalan Tun Sambanthan, there are also plenty of massage centres by blind people.

~ Malaysian Association for the Blind