Hidden Bats

Though we have been able to identify more than 100 blind people in almost 20 localities in the Northern region of CearĂ¡, Northeastern Brazil, there are still many blind children and adults hidden away in their houses, without any hope for education, personal freedom and social interactions. Many parents think they do the best for their blind children by catering for all their physical needs and protecting them from the outside world. Instead of playing and running as any other child, many blind children are kept quiet. They learn very early to be afraid of independent movement as they are prevented from exploring their surroundings. Blind adults have usually internalized the negative attitudes of their families. They reject the use of the white cane for independence and hand responsibility for their lives over to their parents or other care takers.

First independent walk However, we find more and more hidden bats who slowly come out of their holes and caves. In a neighbouring town, there are three young ladies who have never been to school. They have spent their lives in their communities without the chance to study and gain independence. Last week, I visited their house together with a young student. Two of them are sisters who came accross the project recently and during my visit we met their cousin who is also thinking to take the first steps. We shared experiences and even went for a short walk. As there were not enough white canes for all of us we had to get around with sticks cut off trees. Though it is difficult for these girls to imagine that they can move around independently with a white cane, they are very much interested in joining Bats in Action. We invited them for our weekend workshops which we organize for blind adults once a month and I am sure they will get used to their new freedom soon.

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