In the tradition of Oliver Sacks's The Island of the Colorblind, Rosemary Mahoney tells the story of Braille Without Borders, the first school for the blind in Tibet, and of Sabriye Tenberken, the remarkable blind woman who founded the school. Fascinated and impressed by what she learned from the blind children of Tibet, Mahoney was moved to investigate further the cultural history of blindness. As part of her research, she spent three months teaching at Tenberken's international training center for blind adults in Kerala, India, an experience that reveals both the shocking oppression endured by the world's blind, as well as their great resilience, integrity, ingenuity, and strength.
By living among the blind, Rosemary Mahoney enables us to see them in fascinating close up, revealing their particular "quality of ease that seems to broadcast a fundamental connection to the world." Having read For The Benefit of Those Who See, you will never see the world in quite the same way again.
Not long ago I accompanied my boyfriend to Jerusalem for his laser eye surgery appointment. From Cyprus, where Aias lives, Israel is a forty-minute flight; you've hardly taken off from Larnaca's tiny airport before you're skidding to a landing again at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. The surgery took place in the private clinic of an Israeli ophthalmologist of considerable reputation. This ophthalmologist doesn't smile much, but his mouth is slightly lopsided in a way that makes him look perpetually on the verge of a smile. He looks as though he is privately enjoying a mildly amusing joke, although after spending twenty minutes in his company one suspects there really is no joke, it's just the way his mouth is. He is short and stocky and neckless, and though his eyes are small and set close together, and though he doesn't truly smile, there is warmth in his face. He walks slumped a bit to the right, as if he has too much ballast in his starboard ...
For the Benefit of Those Who See is a compassionate, remarkable book that offers a rare and insightful look at blind culture. The history and stories Mahoney presents are often shocking and disturbing but also reflective of human dignity, intelligence, determination, and triumph.
(Reviewed by Suzanne Reeder).
Full Review (1063 words).
In her nonfiction book For the Benefit of Those Who See, Rosemary Mahoney recounts her experiences at Braille Without Borders, an international development organization that helps blind and partially sighted students gain independence, workplace skills, and professional training.
Founded in Lhasa, Tibet, the organization is the brainchild of Sabriye Tenberken. A German native, Tenberken was born with a degenerative disease of the retina and by age 12 was completely blind. Mahoney's book recalls some of Tenberken's experiences growing up. She felt patronized by her teachers and, by contrast, was ostracized and bullied by her classmates. For years she denied her blindness and even tried to hide it. "Not until I accepted my blindness," ...
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