Bats are a symbol for blindness. They are animals with negative feelings attached to them. In reality, bats are fascinating animals with unique capacities. Many species of bats have very poor eye sight, but they have an exceptional sense of hearing which allows them to move around and find their way in darkness without problems. The lack of sight is not a disability to them, but they adapted to this special situation better than any other animal.
During my journeys I saw a lot of bats hanging upside down in their caves and holes. They are in a comfortable and quiet place, just waiting for insects or other tasty food to appear in front of them, then they only need to open their mouth. They never had the opportunity to learn how to fly, to look for their own food and to orientate themselves using the system of echolocation. The caves of bats have different shapes. In some countries they stay on a couch watching TV or playing with the computer, in other countries they rather sit in front of the house and have the world passing on the street. Very lucky ones spend their time in a hammock. You can lie down and swing up and down for entire days, weeks and years. The hammock is a great invention to relax, but the obstacles we encounter when leaving it should not prevent us from becoming active and take life in our own hands.
About Bats in Action
Bats in Action wants to transform the concept of being blind from a limiting condition into an opportunity for personal independence and social inclusion. As bats live with blindness without being disabled, I want to see blind people flying high to reach their goals.
As attitudes are formed during childhood, Bats in Action will create a preparatory school for blind children. This will give especially children from rural Brazil the chance to learn all necessary skills for successful integration in school and family life. While equipping children with important skills such as Braille, independence in movement and performance of daily activities, the preparatory school gives them the confidence to solve their own problems and show the world that blindness cannot stop them from following their dreams.
The target group of the preparatory school are especially children from rural areas of Northeastern Brazil as it is almost impossible for them to access services for special education in their communities. The project will prepare them academically, socially and personally for self-integration in mainstream schools and the communities. This way, they will not depend on specialized support further ahead in their school life.
As more and more young aduts are searching for opportunities to take life in their own hands and escape from over-protection in their families, we are looking for solutions to include them in the preparatory school in order to gain skills and confidence for an active and self-determined life.
The Classroom in Sobral
A classroom for about 15 children and young adults has been established in Sobral, a city about 250 kilometers from Fortaleza, in the Northeast of Brazil. With the support of a local government teacher, students learn Braille, computer skills and especially independent movement. They get the chance to play, interact and share their experiences, which helps to break through the isolation and build up self-confidence.
The Preparatory School in Ubajara
In 2015, we have started to build a Preparatory school in the rural town of Ubajara, about 350 km from Fortaleza. It is planned to build dorms and classrooms in order to accomodate children and young people from rural areas of the region. Currently, a small group of beneficiaries stays in the project in ubajara in order to study and get ready for helping new students to join the school once the infrastructure is available.