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11:25 Nov 16 2009

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Founder of Tibet's 1st school for blind people
11:21, November 16, 2009  

Sabriye Tenberken not only developed the Tibetan Braille script, but also traveled to the Tibet Autonomous Region alone and founded the first school for the blind there.

Herself blinded by disease while living in Cologne, Germany, when she was 12, she studied at the Central Asian Sciences at Bonn University. In addition to Mongolian and modern Chinese, she also learned modern and classical Tibetan, along with sociology and philosophy.

She founded the Center for the Blind in Lhasa in 1999 that stands to this day and continues to be expanded.

There were no schools for the blind in Tibet before this center opened. Tenberken is also co-founder and co-director of Braille Without Borders.

Besides raising funds and coordinating with officials and sponsor organizations, she is also responsible for developing the curriculum and training the teachers. At one point, she even took on the teaching herself.

The going was anything but smooth.

According to Tenberken, at first some local Tibetans cheated her by taking advantage of her blindness; also, many European foundations did not offer help, believing that a young woman who herself was blind could never succeed with such a project.

But the determined woman persevered and found a soulmate in Paul Kronenberg, her Danish boyfriend.

Sabriye's book My Path Leads to Tibet, that tells the history of her project and about living with blindness, has been published in 12 languages.

Last year, she was chosen as one of China's 15 most influential overseas experts over the past 30 years.

Source: China Daily

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