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Defying everyone’s advice, armed only with her rudimentary knowledge of Chinese and Tibetan, Sabriye Tenberken set out to do something about the appalling condition of the Tibetan blind, who she learned had been abandoned by society and left to die. Traveling on horseback throughout the country, she sought them out, devised a Braille alphabet in Tibetan, equipped her charges with canes for the first time, and set up a school for the blind. Her efforts were crowned with such success that hundreds of young blind Tibetans, instilled with a newfound pride and education, have now become self-supporting. A tale that will leave no reader unmoved, it demonstrates anew the power of the positive spirit to overcome the most daunting odds.


Vivid, brisk account of a young German woman's efforts to establish a school for the blind in Tibet. Diagnosed with retinal disease in early childhood and completely blind by 13 the author retains visual memories that help her navigate sightlessly. Tenberken still sees colors in her mind and uses them as a mnemonic device to remember phone numbers and formulas and to visualize landscapes and her surroundings. She also has remarkable parents who have encouraged her independence and sense of adventureat one point her mother even helped out at the school in Lhasa. Tenberken, who did graduate work in Asian studies, describes how her obsession with Tibetan manuscripts led her to devise a Tibetan Braille alphabet so she could read texts herself. In the late 1990s, needing more freedom and tired of being reminded of her supposed limitations she flew alone to China and then traveled by road (an exhausting experience) to Lhasa, where she was determined to found a school. There were no training facilities for blind children; if their families were poor, they were left on the street or alone in their rooms without any teaching, diversions, or stimulation. An accomplished horsewoman, the author recalls often hazardous journeys on horseback over some of the most mountainous terrain in the world to find pupils. She describes her efforts to raise funds, to get official Chinese permission for her school, and to find suitable premises and staff. None of it was easy, but the school eventually opened and was an instant success. Then the funding dried up due to bureaucratic bungling back in Germany, her venal landlords evicted her, and the government insisted she leave the country immediately. Though discouraged, Tenberken rallied her forces and, after a torturous overland journey to Nepal and a visit to Germany, found ways to continue her work. Impressive, moving, and refreshingly free of sentimentality and self-pity. (First printing of 50,000; author tour)

Kirkus Reviews
November 1, 2002

"This brilliant and courageous blind woman not only has an extraordinary story to tellof how, alone, she entered Tibet, devised a Tibetan Braille, and single-handedly established schools for the blind and altered the traditional attitude to blind people (who had for centuries been seen as cursed, and treated as lepers or worse)but tells it with extraordinary grace, candor, modesty, and humor. My Path Leads to Tibet is as delightful as it is enthralling, and carries one along, in a sort of wonder, from the first word to the last."

Oliver Sacks
author of Awakenings &
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

"How can we use the power of high technology to narrow the gap between rich and poor rather than widen it? This is the great problem that our politicians and scientists and entrepreneurs have failed to solve. And here is Sabriye Tenberken, a young woman with courage and imagination, showing us how to solve it "

Freeman Dyson
author of Disturbing the Universe,
Origins of Life, and Infinite in All Directions

"If you only read one book this year, read this one. Sabriye Tenberken's life is a light to all of us, and her story is its "ray".By turns courageously honest, genuinely heartwarming, and uniquely inspiring. She takes us on an extraordinary journey where we witness firsthand the miracles that can happen when one person is truly determined to make a difference. As an
emerging leader in the fields of international public health and blind rehabilitation, Tenberken will be in the news for years to come. But it will always be this story that stays with us."

Lylas G. Mogk, M.D.,
author of Macular Degeneration:
The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight

The Inspiring Story of How One Young Blind Woman Brought Hope to the Blind Children of Tibet Sabriye Tenberken. When Tenberken, whose battle with retinal disease left her blind at age 13, was in her 20s, she studied Tibetan culture at the University of Bonn. Frustrated by the awkward character-recognition machinery she had to use to read Tibetan materials, she devised a Tibetan braille alphabet, so that once translated, works could be directly readable by the blind. What followed seemed natural to her: she'd go to Tibet and start a school to teach this braille to blind Tibetan children. Traveling on horseback over treacherous mountain passes, sleeping in rat-infested huts and dealing with self-interested charitable bureaucracies, Tenberken managed to keep her humor and courage. She succeeded in establishing a school, and her organization, "Braille Without Borders" continues the literacy mission in other countries. While stories of triumph over adversity are often compelling, Tenberken gives something more: her own point of view on life as a blind person. Why does she go out of her way to visit stunning landscapes? Why are colors meaningful to her? "I consider myself a very visual person," Tenberken explains, aware that not all blind people - or "sighted" people, for that matter - have "visual imaginations" "Besides, why wouldn't a world
informed and described by one's imagination be better than reality?"

Publishers weekly review

Other languages:

ISBN - Nr.
"Mon Chemin mène au Tibet"
Anne Carriere
"La mia strada porta in Tibet
Longanesi, imprint Corbaccio
"Yolum Tibet´e Düstü"

Ping's Publications

Bitsaal Publishers Co

Fuunsha Co. Ltd
"Vejen til Tibet"
Billesoe & Baltzer
"Mijn weg leidt naar Tibet"
Beginning 2004

"My path leads to Tibet"
Arcade Publishing House
"Mein Weg fuehrt nach Tibet"
Kiepenheuer & Witsch