Friday, August 17, 2007

Life on the road with the Milton Margai School for the Blind - Part 2

Special report by Vandy Immurrana

 (...) In Scotland, during our last tour, we learnt that whilst in our culture, we clap our hands to show how much we appreciate the efforts of a person’s performance, in Scotland they clap their hands and at the same time stamp their feet. We were also introduced to horses for the first time in our lives and we learnt that there is something called a coach, which we then rode in. There is a high level of speed here due to the good road networks. In our country, the roads are very narrow and there are a lot of potholes; as a result, traffic is stiff and travel is very slow and tiring.

We were interviewed by the BBC, met Robin White and Tony Silver, who reported from Sierra Leone during our civil war, ate raw leaves and vegetables for the first time, and a lot of sweets, jumped on a bouncy castle and wished we could have one at home…

One thing we learnt that I found very interesting is how people’s wealth here is measured by the amount of land and number of animals they have, especially horses. In our culture, there is nothing like horses and we measure wealth by the amount of money you have, the number of wives you can take care of and the number of children you can feed. This is for practical purposes: there is no advanced equipment for collecting food from the fields in Sierra Leone and it’s important to have a big work force, made up of family members, to avoid famine situations.

Women are more restricted in Sierra Leone: what I see in the UK is that women are at the head of many institutions. Ladies here are more encouraged to learn; in Africa it is not so: we take our ladies to be wives and to farm. Thank God now we’re moving to the modern age. We can take back these things we learn here and apply them.

Another thing that has struck me is that disabled people here, especially the blind, are given equal treatment and opportunity compared with in Africa. My feeling is that disability does not mean inability and you can always be useful. Nothing is too difficult if the mind is committed, and I see it as an interesting challenge to be a blind person. All is not lost – just the sight.





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