Blind woman has vision of future
Kyila sees dream come true to empower children
Kyila may not be able to see the world, but she has a clear vision of how to make it a better one for blind and partially sighted people.
The 29-year-old, who has been blind since birth, founded the Tibet autonomous region’s first “blind massage” center as well as its first kindergarten for visually impaired children.
“I do what I like to do, which is essential to me. I’m proud of that,” said the businesswoman, who opened the Enlightening Blind Massage Center in 2003.
“By providing job opportunities for massage therapists with sight problems, I wanted to help them live with dignity and become contributing members of society,” she said.
Kyila was born in Tibet’s Lhaze county and has two brothers who are also blind. When she was 12, she was enrolled in Braille Without Borders, a specialist school in Lhasa opened in 1998.
After three years at the school, Kyila was able to read and write Braille in Chinese, Tibetan and English, and had been taught how to cook and perform massage.
“What benefited me most from my stay there was not the knowledge, but the selfconfidence and self-reliance,” she said. “I began to realize it was not only me, many people around us have visual impairments.”
To help others in her position, she opened her massage center in the city’s Tengyeling Street, offering customers professional massage and coffee.
However, due to Kyila’s strong interest in English, Tenberken sent her to study at the Totnes European School, where she was the only blind student in her class. During her year in London, she said teachers treated her no differently from her classmates.
“Many times they forgot I was blind, and sometimes I was asked to read from the blackboard,” she said. “Of course, I would make big mistakes, it made all my classmates laugh. It was fun.”
After returning to Tibet, she worked as manager of Braille Without Borders for two years before heading out to Germany, Canada, and the United States in 2008 to study early intervention education.
It was at this time she says she discovered her calling: Running a kindergarten for visually impaired children.
“It’s important that children with partial sight are given the same opportunities as their peers,” Kyila said. “It’s key that we empower them, to prevent them from being socially disabled.”
In 2011, she opened Kiki’s Kindergarten for the Blind in Baishung township, which lies 250 kilometers west of the capital in Xigaze prefecture. The facility was the first of its kind in Tibet and today has 28 students.
“Thanks to the Disabled Persons’ Federation and many generous donors, I could make my dream happen,” she said, adding that the goal is to help the children to be more independent.
“In my kindergarten, the children play, run around and climb trees with their friends. They learn important skills and find out that it is not the end of the world to be blind,” she said. “My dream is to run an inclusive kindergarten for blind and sighted toddlers, to provide early intervention education.”
Due to her work in promoting awareness of the blind and visually impaired, Kyila was invited to take part in The Youth In Lhasa, a documentary by Mecha Film Production Center.
“Kyila has abundant social experience and is a knowledgeable woman. Her capability and compassion have affected not only to her own self-esteem, but have also helped many others,” said Jamyang Nyima, who worked on the documentary.
“She is special, that’s why we chose her for our film,” Jamyang said.
A blind boy plays soccer in the kindergarten which is the first for blind kids in Tibet and has 28 students.
Right: A blind teacher
plays with kids in the grounds of the Kindergarten.
Left: The class monitor pours tea for his classmate at Kiki’s Kindergarten for the Blind in Baishung.