doesn’t happen every day that you wake up and know that from this day
new phase in life starts.
was 6:30 a.m., a cool breeze blew across the tropical lake. Paul and I walked on the recently paved path
between still empty buildings when suddenly the silence was disrupted
laughter coming from the auditorium. The
first three participants had arrived and were enjoying bananas and
coffee. Eric and Julius from Ghana and
Saudi Arabia, all three of them dressed in nice suits and polished
shoes. They cheerfully shouted, "We made
history! We are the first participants
ever to enter this building!"
the next two days we drove back and forth to the airport to collect all
2009 IISE participants. Finally after
the arrival of Kyila and Kienzen, our two Tibetan participants, the
nearly complete. We only lost track of
the four Liberian participants. They
weren’t on their flight from Lagos to Dubai. In
Lagos nobody seemed to have noticed the four of
them, which is rather
strange since four blind people traveling together isn’t a very common
were really worried because they didn’t have money to buy food or even
to give us
a call. With the help of some friendly
airline employees they were finally "tracked down." Their
flight from Monrovia had been delayed so
they missed their connecting flight to Dubai. After
a delay of more than 36 hours delay,
they finally arrived in Trivandrum. The other participants received the
world travelers with a warm welcome and songs.
left to right: Martin and Holi. (Madagascar), Pynhoi (India),
Mohamed (Sierra Leone), Kyila (Tibet/China), Sahr (Liberia) and Eric
to the hard work of all the IISE team members, lead catalysts: Nora and
Isabel. Catalysts, Rajesh, Rose, Amjad,
Murali, Navigator Sankar, the administration team led by Ajith and Sree
other colleagues and supporters, the IISE "Journey in Five Acts"
could start on January 12th, 2009.
back on the year 2008 is not all that easy. So
many things have happened, and because we
haven’t been in Tibet since September we have asked Nyima, Yudun, and
write up the most important events in Lhasa and Shigatse.
After the unrest in March last year (also see the newsletter of August,
the situation has calmed down again and some tourists (but not as many
beforea) have returned to Lhasa. Because
of the lack of tourists in 2008, the medical massage clinic has not
well as it did in 2007, however Tashi, Tendsin and their colleagues are
positively towards 2009.
In 2008 seven new students joined the project and in the beginning they
very nervous and shy about talking to people. Some
of them thought they would not be able to
learn but soon they discovered that they were reading and writing in
Braille. Seven students graduated and
integrated themselves into the regular elementary school next to the
Shigatse. The teachers there are happy to work with them because they
very motivated and none of the sighted students wants to "stay behind."
in Lhasa "look at" a tactile painting.
students have started the medical massage training, and two students
graduate in the beginning of 2009. They all moved out of the project
live in an apartment close to the school.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC:
Ngudup takes music class from a teacher at the Tibetan university. His teacher said that he is impressed by
Ngudup, because he studies very hard. From all the students the teacher
thinks Ngudup is the best one. Ngudup is
a very nice guy and he does what his teacher says. The
teacher mentioned that the other students
are sighted but that in comparison to Ngudup they don’t seem know why
In 2008 we
had two very nice local volunteers, Lobsang Jimpa and Tseyang. Lobsang Jimpa is still with us. Tseyang
helped with our Braille books. Tseyang
said that she was very happy with our students and she loves our
school. Lobsang said our students are
blind but their
minds and hearts are not blind and he doesn’t see a difference between
people and sighted people. He likes working with us and as he noticed
people are shy about taking blind people to the city, he thinks that is
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE
this year not so many people came to this event as did last year. We went near the Potala Palace in order to show
what we are capable of doing, and we know that people are interested in
how we read and write in Braille. That day we had a very good party in
school and we also invited blind students from the governmental special
DAY 03 DECEMBER,
International and the Tibet Disabled Persons Federation organized a big
celebration. 12 of our students competed in essay writing, singing,
writing competitions. For the essay
competition all our students got some nice prizes, including the gold,
and bronze medals, a certificate, and a set of gloves and hat.
In 2008 we have hired 2 motivated and nice teachers.
We now have eleven staff: six teachers and five staff. Two of our
to Shanghai for three weeks to exchange experiences with teachers at
International School there. It was a
successful exchange and Yudon and Choedon learned some new teaching
which they now also use in the Lhasa project.
The German magazine,Bild der
To surprise her, they invited Nyima and Adron too. Nyima and Adron were
the city. Nyima loved the zoo. Adron loved the food. And both found the
Bild der Frau' Award ceremony in
Germany. From left to right:
Ursula von der Leyen, Kai Pflaume, Nyima, Sabriye und Adrun.
It was an
amazing thing to see Nyima and Adrun on stage during the handover of
Bild der Frau Award“ in Berlin. Paul and the people of the "Bild der
arranged their “appearance” without my knowing. For
the audience and me it was really a huge
friends, I would like to say thank you once again to all those who have
the Bild Der Frau extra prize. Because
of all these votes, BWB has received this prize and it has helped us to
overcome the rather difficult situation in 2008.
several other awards were received. In
October, in Boston, Massachusetts, Sabriye received the "Hands on
from the National Braille Press, and in December Ms. Geraldine Chaplin
Sabriye the 'Life Award'.
December we received the following news from China:
on Saturday revealed the 15 most
influential foreigners for their contributions
to the country's development over the past three decades. The
specialists in public health, science, construction, management,
media and farming, according International Talent Monthly.
Most of the finalists were also winners of
the Friendship Award, the top honor awarded by the Chinese government
foreign experts who make outstanding contributions to China's economic
construction and social development.
Tenberken was selected amongst the above mentioned 15 most influential
recognition made us very happy since it means not only that the BWB's
well recognized by the Chinese authorities but it especially shows that
people can contribute to society.
We see this award as a positive sign fort the start of the new project
Kerala. The IISE trains 23 highly
motivated participants from 14 countries in an environmental friendly
full of creativity, ideas, stories, and action. We
have possibly never slept less in our lives
but we have also hardly ever been so energized as at this moment.
- Auditorium at night
activities farm 2008:
PRODUCTION and MARKETING:
major national grocery chain with head offices in Beijing and outlets
have agreed to market our dairy products and provide special marketing
in their outlets in Tibet and in mainland China. This
step required inspections by the local
health department, the National Department for Food Hygiene, a
the protection of the environment and by the Department of Revenue. Four inspectors from the national government
Department for Food Safety paid a surprise visit and inspection. They were impressed and granted us an
official license—in the form of a large official shield—to produce our
to display the government safety logo on our products.
challenge: to meet demand and at the same time to maintain the standard
which we have gained official approval.
WATERLESS ECOSAN TOILETS
The initial set of composting toilets for the students was renovated
using professional ‘urine-diverting’ pans manufactured in Guangdong and
the Olympics. (Note: the previous pans
were our own adaptation of standard bowls which did not withstand the
cleaning techniques of our blind students, creating a disconnection
bowl and the plumbing.)
second set of waterless, Ecosan toilets was built for staff and
the professionally produced pans. In addition, "mini green houses"
were created over the south facing windows of the compost "cooking
chambers." This will speed the
composting rate, especially during the cold Tibetan winters.
decided to create grey water collection at all the Project’s water
around wells, showers, clothes- washing areas, kitchen sinks, etc. These are based on a septic tank design with
three chambers. The third chamber is
simply a grey water holding chamber with a manual/electric pump option
the grey water for use in the green houses, flower gardens, field
and, forgive us, for an outdoor ice-hockey rink.
GREEN HOUSES – KITCHEN
our six green houses have been renovated using the Ladakh method. The Ladakh method was devised to meet
conditions similar to those on the high Tibetan plateau—very cold
severe winds from January to April. The severe winters require external
"winter blankets" to retain heat overnight. But the severe winds in
Ladakh and Tibet invariably blow the blankets away, requiring constant
management of guy-wires and ropes to keep them in place, and the
"traffic" of people on the greenhouse roofs causes damage. The Ladakh method of green housing does away
with the need for external, additional winter ‘blankets’ by removing
struts, columns, supports etc, allowing for internal night
"curtains." These curtains are much lighter than blankets. They may
run along wires inside the greenhouse or can be hung on hooks from the
ribs. They are easily stored aside while working during the day and
the end of the (winter) day, much like standard curtains.
in Shigatse end of September 2008
abandoned traditional Tibetan/Chinese greenhouse near the Project
also renovated using the Ladakh method. The
traditional sun-baked mud/straw Tibetan bricks were retained however.
happy accident it was discovered that it was possible to use one-sixth
number of "ribs" used in the larger greenhouses. This greenhouse is
at present functioning and producing vegetables for our kitchen.
The compost unit produced 2 tons of compost this year using a modified
production methods remained the same, ie: traditional Tibetan village
looms, all natural dyes, etc., this year the Project has begun
raw wool directly from the surrounding Tibetan villages. This has
the "middle man" and also given us greater control over the quality
of the yarn, as we now do the carding and spinning of the yarn
traditional Tibetan hand spinning wheels have been made for this
purpose. With the students home for the
month of New
Year, the staff fill the long evening hours, sitting around the stove
dining room, preparing the yarn for the return of the students and
sweet tea. Not so traditional, is the
DVD playing Tibetan songs in the background, as they spin.
graduate students live and work in their own residence-cum-weaving
the nearby town of Shigatse. This being their initial year, and since
was curtailed, BWB has advanced a micro-loan to them, which they will
over the next 3 years.
building has been completed. It requires equipping however. Landscaping
begun just before winter set in and our seasonal day-workers returned
villages for the New Year celebrations.
sun-shelters were added, one for cows and one for houses. An old well over our private aquifer was
re-activated with pump, new plumbing and a tank—to provide an extra and
independent water supply for our animals. A young bull was purchased
and is now
the proud sire of two "daughters" and a "son."
Six more mu (1 mu
= 666.66 m2, so 4000 m2 or app 1 acre) have been converted to
bringing the total of cultivated land to 96 mu.
Crops harvested: spring wheat, spring barley, rye, winter wheat, oats,
(canola), spring barley, two varieties of potato. With the help of the
from our composting toilets and those who contributed to them, the
harvest came to 32.8 tons.
Music: the first steps toward a Department of Music have been made. Rooms have been set aside and traditional
Tibetan "drobnye"’ and keyboards have been provided. In the spring of
2009 we await Ngudup, a blind
Tibetan music teacher and he will bring additional instruments from
a full time English teacher has been employed for the students and
Sabriye and Paul:
soon hope to have the new website www.bwb-iise.org up and running. On
you will find articles, updates and stories from the IISE participants.
Before we end this newsletter, we
would like to ask you for some help.
We are looking for highly motivated and talented participants for the
2010 IISE course.
To be able to reach blind and partially sighted potential candidates
around the world we would like to ask you to send a small IISE
advertisement to the friends and people in your networks.
below the advertisement in English. On the following link you can find
the same advertisement in several languages: Advertisement
It would be great
if you can spread it as much as you can so it reaches as many people as
possible. Thank you
very much for your help!
Do you experience social
Is it your dream to change and improve
If yes, the International Institute for
Social Entrepreneurs (IISE) is the right place to be.
The IISE seeks to empower people,
especially blind and partially sighted, to become social entrepreneurs
Candidates from all over the world
are at least eighteen and older and who can read and write English are
to apply for this one-year program before the 30th of June 2009.
Computer literacy training, public
speaking, fund raising, and management are some of the courses offered
For more information please visit our
website at www.bwb-iise.org
can also write to BrailleWB@gmx.net
or per regular post to:
Braille Without Borders
International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs
c/o P. Kronenberg
Vivekanenda Nagar, Vellayani, Ookode, Nemom PO, TRV
or fax your questions to: Fax 0031848307904
the name of all the students in Tibet, the participants in Kerala, and
colleagues we would like to say THANK YOU very much for your support,
ideas and suggestions.
With many good
wishes and lots of friendly greetings from a centre full of joy,
songs, music and visions,