Blind woman has vi­sion of fu­ture

Ky­ila sees dream come true to em­power chil­dren

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINESE TRAIN PROJECTS AROUND THE WORLD - By PALDEN NY­IMA in Lhasa, Ti­bet palden_ny­ima@ chi­

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.

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