WBU-AP Otsuki Award
THE POSITIVE EXPERIENCES & OPPORTUNITIES THAT CAN COME FROM BEING BLIND
Lim Yew Yi, Malaysia 33 male

photo:Delgerbayar Erdenesambu 


"I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad," said Helen Keller. These words inspire me every day as I live my life.

After becoming blind, I often asked myself, "Will I get a job?" "How do I live my life as a blind person?", or "How can I support my parents?" Then, one day, I came across this quote by Helen Keller. I felt so inspired as it gave me a reason to keep on doing my best in life.

As a teenager, I was diagnosed with Glaucoma and I became blind at the age of twenty. I tried my best to carry on with my life and studies although I did not know how to read Braille. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to learn Braille and basic computer skills which enabled me to sit for my examinations in high school. However, I must admit that the lack of reading materials in Braille almost caused me to give up the struggle.

After leaving school, I stayed at home for almost a year without any purpose in life. It was during this time of hopelessness and despair when I came across the inspiring words of Helen Keller. I began to take control of my life and I wrote nearly 120 letters to apply for jobs at various corporations and Government agencies.

After one month of receiving negative responses, I was cheered up when a company asked me to go for an interview. This I did, but then I had to wait for another month for the company's decision. I was filled with joy when the company finally asked me to report for work. They offered me the position of a Junior Administrative Clerk at the factory since I had some computer skills. I could feel the happiness in my family upon hearing this good news.

Some months later I learned there was an advanced computer course that would enable me to attain the certificate of the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL). I sought permission from my bosses to attend the course but they did not consent as I would have to leave my job for six months. I was determined to upgrade my IT skills, and so I reluctantly resigned.

My family members were greatly disappointed of my decision as they feared that I would not be able to find another job even with the ICDL certificate. However, with the spirit and the words of Helen Keller urging me on, I was able to persevere and I successfully completed the course and received the ICDL certificate.

Although I now had the ICDL certificate, I was unemployed! While looking for employment, I joined Saint Nicholas' Home (SNH) in Penang as a volunteer. After three months, SNH appointed me the DAISY (Digital Information System) Project Technician. With my interest for the Project and IT knowledge, I managed to produce 1,200 audio books in spite of the many difficulties faced.

With the blessing of my new employer, I applied and happily I was selected to attend the 14th Duskin Leadership Training Course and the Teruko Ikeda ICT Training Programme for ten months in Japan. While there, I was given the opportunity to gain further knowledge on the use of DAISY to produce audio books with digitised Braille texts which can be uploaded onto websites. Besides that, I also had the chance to learn to make different kinds of handicrafts, and even make a white cane.

While in Japan, I also had the opportunity to share and participate in the cultural and social activities of other persons with visual disabilities. As English was not widely spoken in Japan, I had to master the Japanese language within three months in order to communicate with the teachers, friends and the general public. It was tough but I certainly learned a lot.

On completion of the course, I returned to Malaysia to resume my work at Saint Nicholas' Home with more determination to share my new knowledge with other blind people in the country. I conducted courses for blind people in the use of the latest information and communication technology, and I was selected to join an Access Audit team which advocated to make tourist spots in Penang more accessible to the blind and other disabled groups.

In 2014 I was promoted to the position of a computer trainer. I am now teaching Windows, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, basic computer programming plus converting and editing of audio and video materials. I also give tuition to blind people who are not able to come to SNH for the purpose. Altogether, I have already taught 120 trainees and they have successfully completed their courses. Frankly, I never dreamt of becoming a trainer, but here i am doing just that - amazing!

I am managing to live a normal and independent life even though I am totally blind. I find my life to be interesting and enjoyable - sometimes I go out to the beach for an hour or two to dip in the water and battle with the waves; on other occasions, I have dinners with friends to try out different kinds of food, or go to the cinema when there is a good movie showing. Sunday is the day when I set up my work-load for the coming week. I feel thankful and proud to have the means to support my parents financially, and I could even afford to buy a small house.

With every challenge that comes my way, I make an effort to cope with my difficulties and learn from the mistakes and failures. Helen Keller did so and I want to follow her footsteps. She said "Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence. Life is either a great adventure or it is nothing."

I want to live my life as a great adventure, just like Helen Keller.

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