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Power of the sun

By Daqiong and Tanzindrolkar (China Daily)

09:20, September 14, 2012

Nyima Wangdue is in charge of a school for the blind under the Braille Without Borders Project, in Lhasa, the Tibet autonomous region. (China Daily/Tanzindrolkar)

Nyima Wangdue's name means 'powerful sun' in the Tibetan language. He may be blind but he leads a full life, Daqiong and Tanzindrolkar discover in Lhasa.

Although he is unable to see the world with his eyes, he has never abandoned his faith in life.

"Birds are able to fly while human beings are not, so human beings are considered 'disabled' compared to birds," says Nyima Wangdue, 26, the Braille Without Borders Project manager in the Tibet autonomous region.

"Most people are able to see while we are not, so to them, we are 'handicapped'. If you think about it, every creature has their own disabilities, but so what? What really matters is to live to the best of your abilities," he says.

In Tibetan language, Nyima means the sun, and Wangdue means having things under control or power. Like his name, Nyima is like the sunshine to a group of blind children under the Braille Without Borders Project, where he serves with love and passion.

Born in Garze town, Sichuan province, Nyima lost his sight at 3 months old. His father died when he was very young. His mother remarried and left him and his sister with their grandmother.

When he was 13, he met his mother again, who took him to Lhasa to seek a cure for his eyes. He did not regain his vision but met an American doctor in Lhasa who introduced him to a blind school.

That became Nyima's turning point - he received his basic education and over the years, he traveled to many foreign countries for training and meetings.

The school for the blind was founded in 1998 by Sabriye Tenberken from Germany, who was later joined by her partner, Paul Kronenberg. In September 2002, it was officially called Braille Without Borders Project.

The original aim of having the school is to build the confidence of the blind children and help them to be independent. Apart from regular school subjects such as mathematics, English and Chinese, the school provides technical training like massage, Tibetan textile production and cooking. The couple also trains native Tibetans to teach the blind.

"Sabriye and Paul told me they plan to build a larger blind center in India in the future and I'll be put in charge of that school. Sabriye has instilled in me confidence. Nothing is impossible, even though we're blind," says Nyima, who completed a 10-month management course in India.

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