She was a wisp of a thing.
Thin, a body like a 3-year old child.
Spindly legs due to lack of muscular development.
“They usually are – they cannot emulate how adults walk,” Mr Ooi says gently.
She reaches out, her thin arms held by her caregiver.
She calls out softly, “Misteerrrr Ooi. Misteeerrr Ooi.”
Her voice is gentle like rain. Her face is expressionless.
Siti is born without eyeballs.
Her face is disfigured.
She is 8 years old.
She cannot walk without assistance by her caregiver, this plump and kindly Indian lady whose eyes shine with affection at her little ward.
Did I tell you that Siti is blind?
Abandoned by her divorced parents and left in the care of her old and poor grandfather. He had nothing to eat, what more feed this granddaughter.
St Nicholas Home for the Blind found her in the kampung and brought her to Penang where Siti has a better chance at rehabilitative care. When she is old enough, she will go for facial reconstructive surgery at the Penang General Hospital.
When she first arrived at St Nicholas, she sang the loudest Negaraku during the weekly assembly.
Such a tiny thing with such courage for life.
These are but some of the heartwarming yet poignant stories of the blind children who live at St Nicholas.
We were there this afternoon to visit the home. Mr Ooi, the Executive Director, showed us around the 6-acre home, full of amazing tales of resilient blind people. The blind in this centre can wash and iron clothes!
The world of the blind
If you think being blind is a tragedy, then being born blind and deaf is truly a double tragedy! We heard first hand from Mr Ooi how St Nicholas helps by schooling them – not for academic success but for self reliance and independent living. Everyday tasks we do without much thought takes them a long time to master. Things like cleaning after themselves, using the elevator and escalator, buying food, taking the bus and more.
We’d expected to visit for just an hour but ended up talking to Mr Ooi and his 2 IT guys, Amir and Hafiz for more than 3 hours. Amir suffers from low vision but he (together with Hafiz) are the webmasters of the St Nicholas website. We were there to see how we could use our IT skills and of course our 11 years of experience in building websites to assist them.
I told Mr Ooi that while businesses offered/sold products and services on their business websites, non-profit organisations are also in the selling business.
It’s just that their ‘product’ is information. It has always been our aim to give back in meaningful ways, sharing and utilising what we were really good at.
Plus there is a beautiful connection between IT and the blind. Precisely because they cannot see, they are limited in terms of job opportunities. But IT is the perfect bridge to help them socialise, learn and work, especially if they can start their own work-at-home businesses.
We’ve always wanted to help and now we finally could.
There’s a variety of ways YOU can help too and as we begin our consultation for them, helping them improve their website, we will be sharing that journey with you.
Come back as we keep you posted!
The photos are over in our Facebook page. Check them out!