Adult Group Excellent Work (Japan)
“Braille Broadened My World”
Tokyo Bolot Kyzy Shirin(26)

The braille is like a life to me. I am not who I am today but for the braille. Without braille, I remained unable to study, without a chance to come to Japan, and I would be quietly living in the countryside of Kyrgyzstan without dreaming for my future.

I have congenital retinitis pigmentosa and studied in an elementary school and middle school in the countryside of Kyrgyzstan. My parents thought of putting me in a blind school. Instead, I went to regular schools as we lived far from Bishkek, the capital city where a blind school was located, and because my parents were worried that I might have been labeled and prejudiced as a handicapped person if I went to a blind school. To study, I memorized the entire textbooks while my families and friends read textbooks to me. The study became more difficult when I went to the middle school. Still, I was hoping to go to a high school like my classmates and continue studying after graduating from the middle school. Yet, people around me said, “It will be difficult for you to continue studying because you cannot read or write.” I felt that my future was closed when I thought I could no longer continue studying. The hardest moment was when my teacher asked the class what we wanted to become in the future. All of my classmates had their dreams, but only I could not describe any dream. I could not hope or dream for the future as I thought I had to quietly living inside my house forever. I also thought that it would be difficult to be living in the world of sighted persons. I asked my parents to put me into a blind school to put me in the world of handicapped people.

I first learned the braille of Kyrgyzstan when I started the blind school. I felt very happy for being able to read and write without help. I learned all the Kyrgyzstan braille in three days. Before, I had to ask families and friends to read to me when they had time. When I learned the braille, however, I became able to read by myself any time I wanted. The change was not just in studying. The braille also changed my life. I cooked while reading recipes written in braille. I took notes of the color of clothes in braille and selected my clothes. Braille enabled me to do things I had thought I would not be able to do alone. Learning braille drastically enriched my life.
I heard that a medical school in Bishkek had a massage course that accepted blind people when I was in the second year at the blind school. I have been receiving massages to treat my eyes since I was a child. Usually I was the one who received massages and treatments. Yet, I would be able to give massages to others if I learned massage. I immediately determined to learn massage.

Once I entered the school, however, I was unable to study as I had expected. There was no massage textbook written in braille in Kyrgyzstan, and I had to take all notes by myself. Textbooks usually provide organized and schematic information of what to learn. I could not organize information neatly like textbooks when I took notes in braille. I felt like I was only learning superficially although I had the chance to learn. Then I learned that there was an opportunity for me to learn in Japan. I knew that massage by blind masseurs, acupuncture, and moxibustion were advanced in Japan. I therefore thought that I might be able to study better using textbooks if I went to Japan. My desire to study in Japan grew. I immediately visited Japanese Center at Bishkek and looked for Japanese instructors. I studied Japanese for one year and acquired the chance to study in Japan.

I am now studying at the Acupuncture, Moxibustion and Manual Therapy Course at Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired, University of Tsukuba. The study is difficult even with textbooks written in braille because many difficult words are used. Still, I am studying hard to pass the national certificate exam. I want to have my own clinic in Kyrgyzstan in the future and spread Japanese massage skills in Kyrgyzstan while travelling back and forth between the two countries.

Braille is being very useful both for studying and for living in Japan. I take notes in braille when I find words that I cannot understand in daily living. My recently acquired hobby is to take notes of lyrics of Japanese songs in braille. I also enjoy reading Japanese recipes written in braille. Songs and food give me topics to talk about with my Japanese friends. I made many friends through songs and cooking. Braille helped me enrich my relationships.

Braille is a God-given gift to me. I thought I would not be able to keep living in the world of the sighted people when I was in the middle school, but braille connected me to the world of sighted people. The fingers that read braille work as my eyes and give me much information. I can take actions when I have information. I gain confidence when I take actions. Braille enabled me to have my own dreams and gave me the courage to take the first step. I am going to use braille to study more and realize my dreams.


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