Blind, but not stupid
HERAT CITY (PAN): Roya Bahrami has been blind since birth, but the 19-year-old has not let that stop her from following her dreams.
Last year, she graduated from Al Fatah high school and is now preparing to sit her university exam.
Using Braille – the system of reading and writing for the blind that uses a matrix of raised dots – and by recording all of her lectures, Bahrami excelled at school, showing that her visual impairment did not affect her intelligence.
“I was top of class 11, and second in class 12,” she said.
Bahrami wants to study political science at university so that she can become a lawyer, and work for social justice.
The teenager also works part-time as a presenter at Sahar, a private radio station run by women. She has been working there for the past four years presenting programmes on health, youth and entertainment.
Other teenagers call in to the show with their problems and Bahrami offers advice.
She makes $100 a month for the few hours she works each week, but is saving as much as she can.
She is the youngest of five children. Her father died when she was 1 and her mother supports the family.
Bahrami is constantly looking for ways to grow and learn. “I want to prove that humans can study and improve, despite not being able to see.”
Although she says that the attitude towards the blind is changing in Herat, the behaviour of some people is still upsetting.
Many people think the blind, because they cannot see, cannot do anything, she says. “But once people see that I work in a creative way, then they treat me well.
“I ask people not to compare someone who is blind with someone who can see. Instead, they should find the positive in the individual and allow the blind to live their life to the fullest.”
She said there was not enough support from the government for the disabled, and called for more long-term and effective planning. Financial support as well as livelihood projects could also help the blind shake off the stereotype that they cannot work, and bring them into the mainstream
According to the blind association of Herat, there are 1,200 people with impaired vision, 40 percent of whom are women in the province.
The blind in Herat have historically been more active than in other provinces, publishing the first monthly magazine for complexly in Braille.
The 18-page magazine covered a variety of issues from comics and poetry to daily news, cultural, religious, social and legal issues.
The blind association plans to increase the number of copies and send them to associations in other provinces, so that more blind people can get access to news and current affairs.
Last year, sports such as biking, running and football were also started for the blind in Herat.
The provincial capital also played host to a photo exhibition showing photographs of the blind in Afghanistan.
The aim of the show was to get people thinking about the blind and to their position in society.
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