Category Archives: Global Roots

Why Kyila Began Kiki’s Kids

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!

AND….that is why I support her efforts….you can too! Support Global Roots and Kiki’s Kids.


Kiki’s Kids Staff

As we all know, the people working with young children are special people and we need to recognize their efforts as Kyila does in her recent newsletter to me. Here in Kyila’s words are her notes about her staff:

We are so fortunate to have a wonderful team with very motivated people. The entire staff were sent to China to attend different trainings: Braille, Inclusive Education, and Kindergarten Teacher Trainings. Thanks to the Family Learning Centre in Beijing our teachers participated in different trainings and exchange experiences with their staff! We now have 7 staff, 5 teachers, and 3 house staff. Each person takes care of our students like their own children and are committed to Kiki’s Kindergarten goal: “All children have the right to feel safe, cared for and treated as individuals whether they are blind or sighted, rich or poor…”. Each of our staff are very special people. Please take a moment to realize…not everyone can do the work these dedicated people do with our lovely children each and every day…but this staff does! Many thanks to my team in making Kiki’s Kindergarten operational and a great success! With both sadness and happiness, I wish to let you know one of our first staff members with Kiki’s Kindergarten, Punchung, needs to leave. She was the first staff member at Kiki’s in 2011 and always a talented, kind-hearted woman. When we met in 2010, she was a shy girl only speaking Tibetan and able to read and write a small amount of Chinese. Since her start at Kiki’s she had been learning computer skills and English, and did plenty of management running projects with the other team members. She will be sorely missed. It is sad to say goodbye, but we hope she will return someday. For Punchung though, she is returning to her village to marry her dream man there and become a mother. I, and the entire Kiki team, wish to thank Punchung for everything she did for Kiki’s Kindergarten! I am happy to announce the return of one of our staff. In 2013 her sister needed a babysitter so our staff member had no choice but to go there. Our staff member has now returned and delightfully told us this is the happiest place for her to be!

Kiki’s 2015 Kindergarten Graduates

Kyila included in her newsletter some information about the latest graduates. Here is that information for you too, in Kyila’s words:

Two boys from Yushu. Both of them are now attending a regular school, first and fourth grade, next to Kiki’s Kindergarten in Lhasa. We also had a few partially-sighted children. They now attend regular schools in their hometown. They were very happy to speak English and Chinese better than any other child at the school! Three of Kiki’s former students are now in sixth grade in a regular school! They had graduated from Kiki’s Kindergarten and the Braille Without Borders preparatory school. They are studying very hard and their teachers always tell the other students to admire the blind children! This is the success of both Kiki’s Kindergarten and the Braille Without Borders preparatory school allowing blind children to integrate in regular schools! Blind students attend primary schools, middle schools, secondary schools, and universities!

2016: To Be A Very Good Year!

Just when I was beginning to wonder what was happening a half world away from me with Kyila’s students/children at Kiki’s Kids, I received an email from her. Finally the new location of her program will move from Shigatse to Lhasa in this next year when students return to school after the holidays. Yeah!

How exciting that will be for everyone, especially since the big city will provide some benefits, such as: closer to medical care, access to farmers with greenhouses and thus fresher food, closer to the airport when needing to get special surgeries for eye care or whatever in Beijing or Shanghai, and more activities for the young people.

2016, looks to be with a bright start for Kiki’s Kids. When I know more, you’ll know more! Happy Holidays!


A Gesars Bard’s Tale – Film

A Gesar Bard’s Tale is a movie about a Tibetan. The young boy, Dawa, was herding yaks till age 13 when he suddenly had a series of visions, the gift to tell Tibet’s King Gesar’s epic story. At age 35, he became guardian of national cultural heritage and receives a salary from the Chinese government. In his hometown he is considered a holy man.

Dawa grew up in very rural area of Tibet, miles from Lhasa. When I was in Tibet in 2010, I was aware of an earthquake that took place as I traveled and it had caused much damage in his hometown. I saw newspaper articles and TV reports at the time. The devastation, crumbled flimsy housing. Many people desperate for help. The Chinese provided tents and support for the victims. Since then, the Chinese implemented a redevelopment project for the region. In the film, Dawa continues his seeking and healing from King Gesar and other divine protectors of the land.

The movie is in Tibetan, thus subtitled for the rest of us. It may not be a movie that will attract much attention from the majority of the world; however, I appreciated seeing the Chinese reconstruction that had begun and hope the community gets what they need. For those of you who follow my blog, you might recall a child came to Kiki’s Kids from the earthquake devastation. Once again, we are fortunate to have an educational program for the 3 – 5 year olds at Kiki’s Kids. If you wish to donate to help Kiki’s Kids, please donate at Global Roots and specify Tibet’s Kiki’s Kids.

Thank you.

Donation Time … Before Years End … Thank You!

I could talk about Kiki’s Kids, the kindergarten for blind and sighted 3- 5 year olds in Tibet, for as long as you wish. I feel very positive about all that Kyila as founder/director is accomplishing. However, the bottom-line is that monetary funds need to be raised each year through a variety of sources so the kindergarten can continue. Thanks to Global Roots, and your donations there specifically for the Tibetan project, monies will help Kyila move her Kiki’s Kids kindergarten to Lhasa and fund operating expenses for another year.

I think long and hard about Kiki’s Kids. This is a program where these young children are not able to make beaded necklaces for their program to then sell. There is no way for these children to fundraise for themselves. Instead it is from the help from people like you and me who donate our monies so Kyila can provide these 3- 5 year olds with a safe, healthy, educational place. Otherwise, these children would be at their home hours away from such support, and with parents who would not know what to do with them, or worse yet believe the child was purposely made blind by something their child did in a previous life.

Kyila continues to work to educate parents, care for the young children, and provide work opportunities for her staff. She needs our support. Please donate to Global Roots and specify your donation for the Tibetan work of Kiki’s Kids. You will notice that they ask you to email them if you want your contribution applied to a certain project …. please do… simply so your donation goes to Tibetan Kiki’s Kids …. and also to tell them how you heard about Kiki’s Kids … just say “Mary’s blog”.

Click here to donate to Global Roots before our tax year is over, especially if you wish a tax-deductible donation. Clicking at that spot, “here” above, will bring you right to Global Roots page…and then email Rick when you are done at to specify use of your donation and where you heard this all from. Thank you …. and on behalf of Kyila and her children at the kindergarten…thank you.


A Blind Person Can Play Tennis!?! How can this happen?

Today I was reminding one of my friends that tennis is a lifetime sport … and it can be for everyone! When instructing individuals on his/her tennis game, I have incorporated adaptations necessary for youth, for wheelchair athletes, for beginners, or whoever is in need of an adaptation … and someday I may have a chance to teach one of Kiki’s Kids to play tennis in Tibet, even though they may be blind, visually impaired or sighted! Right now they are learning during their kindergarten year how to interact with people of various vision differences in their sport activities and movement, use of educational materials, and completion of daily living activities. Why not with a game of tennis?

How can this happen? Specific equipment is needed: sound-adapted foam ball, lower net, smaller racquets, and raised lines … similar to what we’ve already done for other adapted activities. And, dependent on the severity of the individual’s visual impairment the ball can bounce three times on their court-side. Sighted and blind young people could easily interact and play together in this sport…and for all a great deal of patience would absolutely be needed! There is no chance to quickly “see” the ball for a blind person, yet he/she can do it with practice.

How can this happen? Apparently, according to the scientists, a blind person can process, and thus perceive, the ball in space by their use of other senses. I always remember hearing when one loses one sense others will be sharper, and this is the case for blind people….yet practice is needed to sharpen them through their normal growing years and, also as with all of us, the continued tennis practicing time….thus lifetime sport!

So, in 1984, thanks to a blind Japanese teenager, Miyoshi Takei, the opportunity for blind people to use a sound-adapted tennis ball began and we may someday see this as a sport in the Paralympic Games. And, even if not at that level of play, it can be at a community tennis court near or far from you!

Additional note: August 2014, thanks to donors, like you, three boxes of educational books, and sporting and camping equipment was received at Kiki’s Kids. All of it was greatly appreciated! I do not know of any tennis court when I was in Lhasa, but who knows, we may someday use an open parking lot, set up the nets, put down the raised-lines and have the start of a tennis lesson!

Your continued donations to Global Roots is always appreciated. Any questions, do not hesitate to ask me. Great work is being done with these young people in Tibet.