Sabriye Tenberken and Braille Without Borders: Background information when reading For the Benefit of Those Who See

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

For the Benefit of Those Who See

Dispatches from the World of the Blind

by Rosemary Mahoney

For the Benefit of Those Who See by Rosemary Mahoney X
For the Benefit of Those Who See by Rosemary Mahoney
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2014, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2015, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Suzanne Reeder

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Sabriye Tenberken and Braille Without Borders

Print Review

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," Tenberken told Mahoney, "did I begin to live."

Sabriye Tenberken and Paul Kronenberg Tenberken was educated at a boarding school for the blind, where she learned self-reliance. She later attended the University of Bonn and majored in Central Asian studies with a focus on Tibet. Despite the discouragement from professors who tried to dissuade her from studying the difficult Tibetan language, she persevered and eventually helped devise a software system that enabled her to transcribe entire Tibetan texts into formally printed Braille.

When she traveled to Tibet in 1997, she learned that more than 30,000 of the country's 2.6 million people (over 1%) were blind, about twice the global rate. Poor diet and unhygienic conditions are factors, but the main cause is the country's elevation. The sun's ultraviolet rays are intense at such high altitudes and cause damage to the unprotected eye. Realizing that blind people in Tibet could benefit from her system, she decided to start a school there.

With twenty thousand dollars of her own money, Tenberken, along with her sighted Dutch partner, Paul Kronenberg, an engineer, founded their project in 1998, and named it Braille Without Borders in 2002. Charging no tuition or boarding fees, they set up a school and started with six students. Tenberken and Kronenberg continued to apply for grants and raised funds from private sources. In following years, the staff grew and more students arrived.

An extension of Braille Without Borders in India, kanthari, offers a leadership program for people who have overcome adversity and strive to create ethical social change. Some kanthari participants are blind or physically disabled while others have no disabilities. Since 2009 more than 40 social initiatives have been set up by participants world-wide.

In 2004 a film team joined Tenberken, six blind students from the Braille Without Borders project, and world-class blind mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer as they attempted to climb Lhakpa Ri, the 23,000-foot peak next to Mount Everest. The results of their three-week journey can be seen in the documentary "Blindsight."

Picture of Sabriye Tenberken and Paul Kronenberg from Braille Without Borders

Article by Suzanne Reeder

This article was originally published in March 2014, and has been updated for the March 2015 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Call Me American
    Call Me American
    by Abdi Nor Iftin
    As a boy growing up in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin loved watching action ...
  • Book Jacket
    Driving Miss Norma
    by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt
    In my cultural life, I've met and been awed by two Normas: The demanding, clueless, fiercely ...
  • Book Jacket
    Driving Miss Norma
    by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt
    In my cultural life, I've met and been awed by two Normas: The demanding, clueless, fiercely ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Last Ballad
    by Wiley Cash
    A hundred years ago or so, farming land west of Charlotte, North Carolina was given over to giant ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

From a dazzling new literary voice, a debut novel about a Palestinian family caught between present and past.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Place for Us
    by Fatima Farheen Mirza

    A deeply moving story of love, identity and belonging--the first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win If You See Me, Don't Say Hi

If You See Me, Don't Say Hi by Neel Patel

Patel's stories introduce a bold and timely new literary voice.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A P Saved I A P E

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.