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.
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!
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!
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!
In a remote part of the world a young lady is working with blind, 3-5 year old children. These children had no opportunity to receive an education till now. In Tibet, people believed blind people had done something horrible in their previous life, and are now being punished in their current life …. thus now blind.
The young lady, Kyila, helping these young children, is also blind. She knows the importance of education and starting an educational program very early in a child’s life. Education makes all the difference in any child’s life; and she is taking her energies to help those often forgotten in her country.
Become a follower of this blog and you will be aware of the work being accomplished by this hard-working woman in the faraway place of Tibet. I met her, Kyila. She is worthy of your attention. It is difficult to have others aware of her work, but you will be aware as I keep you abreast of her accomplishments. And I would appreciate you spreading the word about what she is accomplishing. She is my CNN Hero, yet will probably never ever be recognized by CNN…. but I want her recognized by you! …and others! So let’s spread the word!
Become a follower. Enter your email address so you receive the posts as I write them. Learn more about Kiki’s Kids and Global Roots, an organization that provides Kyila’s program support too.
One of Kyila’s children at Kiki’s Kids, Wangmo, is a deaf-blind girl. After being taken to a military hospital this past February and the support of another organization, there may be a chance for her to hear and speak…..so…..in May she will be checked at a medical center in Beijing. Let’s hope for the best!
Aren’t you glad you are supporting Kyila’s efforts? Please help however you can. Thanks!
When one is in need of emergency medical help, the closer and faster to medical help is always desired. For individuals with major medical needs, the best place to be is as close to a medical center as possible, and to one that has doctors with specialized skills.
Kiki’s Kids is currently in Shigatse, hours away from Lhasa. When a medical emergency does happen, Kyila notifies her staff to have a driver drive her and the child to a clinic in Shigatse. Unfortunately her children often need medical services of a larger hospital, such as in Lhasa a longer drive away. In some instances, it is even necessary for the child and Kyila to fly to Beijing or Shanghai for the medical help.
This July 2014, Kiki’s Kids will be moving to a renovated monastery in Lhasa. It will certainly be a shorter drive to receive medical help at a larger medical center. In some ways I think this new move could be a comforting thought for the staff at Kiki’s Kids as they continue their care of the children. Hopefully they are not holding their breath on the renovation part…as we all know….no renovations happen on the timeline a contractor predicts. Wish them luck!