Once again I wish to use Kyila’s words:
Kiki’s Kindergarten opened its doors on June 26, 2011 and welcomed 8 children. Gradually more children came from all over Tibet and now 21 children are here. Kiki has had more than 20 graduates in five years. Some graduates joined the Braille Without Borders preparatory school while others went back to their village and attended regular school there, or attended special schools. At Kiki’s Kindergarten the children learn basic Braille skills, Chinese, English and Tibetan, as well as daily living skills! But most importantly, independence and self-confidence!
Since I was 13 years old I wished to start a Kindergarten in Tibet. The idea was realized during the first dream-factory discussion we had at the Braille Without Borders preparatory school in Lhasa. My wish, my idea, and my reason for starting a Kindergarten in Tibet had a few very good points for being needed.
First, many blind children do not develop motor and social skills due to lack of proper care at an early age. Many parents in Tibet don’t know how to cope with their blind children. Parents just let the child sit in one place or tied them to a bed so the child could not move around and possibly become hurt. Of course, this stems from good parental intentions, but overprotection only hinders a child’s development. Children need physical exercise in order to stay healthy and develop fine motor skills. This is even more important for blind children since they very much depend on the use of their hands and fingers to see. After all, their hands and fingers are their eyes. Second, in Tibet people think blindness is punishment for something terrible the individual had done in their previous life. Society treats blind people as though they are stupid individuals unable to do anything. Some parents feel so ashamed of their child’s blindness they hide him or her away in an empty room and do not allow the child to go out. Many parents even think it is their duty to take care of the blind child as a punishment for them too. Here is an example: In 2014, the Kiki team found a family who had two sisters, born blind, in Kangma County. It was already too late for them to join Kiki’s kindergarten or blind schools because neither could work or move around. Their family was very poor. The parents told the Kiki team they had no idea how to take care of these two girls. As a result, they let the two girls sit in a corner all day long and their parents fed them. The younger sister was 8 years old; the older sister was 13 years old. It was too late for them to learn Braille and all the other skills. The girls depended completely on others to do everything for them. With the support of Kiki’s Kindergarten and a few volunteers, we took the girls to Lhasa for medical check-ups at a few different hospitals. We also sent them to Shanghai, but unfortunately it was too late. Fortunately, after some training and physical exercise with Kiki’s team, the older sister joined the special school in Shigatse. The condition of the other sister was much worse so she had to stay at home. This example simply reinforces the importance of early intervention for blind children to receive an education, physical training, and development of motor and social skills. With early intervention, an independent and self-confident individual will emerge!