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Lessons In Life: The Dialogue In The Dark
Stevens Chan's Dialogue in the Dark Foto Bernama By Ainul Huda Mohd Saaid
KUALA LUMPUR, (Bernama) -- It was totally dark. A darkness that overwhelmed this writer's vision, regardless the eyes were shut or open.
The panic and fear had set in, and suddenly much to this writer's relief someone called saying "follow my voice!"
This writer then asked the same voice where to move? To my left? To my right? But only the same words "follow my voice!" reverberated in the ears.
This writer in fact had a cane in her hand to feel her way around but being so disoriented she forgot about it. After determining the direction of the voice, this writer took the first step forward, a small step, and thus the 'Dialogue In The Dark' (DID) began.
DIALOGUE IN THE DARK
Founded by journalist Andreas Heinecke in Germany in 1988, the DID is a specially designed 45 minutes to an hour experience where visitors go through environments such as the park, the city, and a cafe in total darkness.
According to its official website, www.dialogue-in-the-dark.com, the mission of the programme is to facilitate social inclusion of marginalised people on a global basis.
Over the last 20 years, more than seven million people had experienced DID, which had reached more than 30 countries and 130 cities worldwide.
DID COMES TO PETROSAINS
The unique journey in the dark experience is now available at the acclaimed Petrosains centre in Suria KLCC for RM25 per person (adult) from Dec 2013 to May 31, 2014.
The programme was initiated by Stevens Chan, founder and chief executive officer of Dialogue in the Dark Sdn Bhd.
Speaking to Bernama recently, the 52-year-old entrepreneur said his main aim is to create awareness on the importance of taking care of one's eyesight.
"I have been doing community work since I lost my eyesight in 2007, and I formed the Malaysia Glaucoma Society to promote awareness to Malaysians on eye disease.
"One of the challenges I face is that people's attitude about their vision, though they know it is important, they don't really bother, or they take for granted. When we ask them to go for an eye check, they say there is nothing wrong with their eyes.
"I was like that too, so you know how important prevention is," he said.
Meanwhile, Stevens said the visually impaired community in the country lack training and career opportunities.
"I hope through the awareness created by the dialogue, more companies will come forward to support the community especially in providing training, something very limited in Malaysia now," he said.
MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE
According to a Bernama report dated Nov 16, 2013, there were 42,909 persons with visual disabilities registered with the Social Welfare Department (JKM) but the actual figure is much higher, about 65,000 persons.
Registered OKU (person with disabilities) under JKM are entitled to several benefits such as RM300 handicapped workers allowance, RM150 general aid for unemployed OKU and start up grant to open small businesses.
The physically-challenged senator, K.Bathmavathi, in her inaugural speech at the Dewan Negara in December 2013, had called on the goverment to increase the allowance to RM600 and the general aid to RM300 monthly.
Bathmavathi also proposed for the Education Ministry to set up a Braille Materials Production Unit to overcome the shortage of Braille text books for blind students at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
Meanwhile, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim encouraged the disabled people to seize the opportunities available and develop their potential.
Among the programmes conducted by JKM to help OKU includes Job Coach, Independent Living (IL programme) and Disability Equality Training (DET programme).
The government is also aiming to open One-Stop Service Centres (PKS) for OKU nationwide in order to provide more effective services to the group.
THE LIGHT AFTER DARKNESS
When DID was coming to an end, from dark there was greyness, then shadows and then finally there was light.
Albeit the experience was only about 15 minutes, (a special slot for the media), it was truly a humbling one for this writer. What more when the writer learnt that the voices that guided the participants belonged to the blind.
While this writer felt a great relief when she came out from the darkness, she was sad for the exceptional individuals whose voice guided her because they could never escape the darkness.
More than anything else, DID provides one with a valuable lesson in life - never take your vision for granted.
news coverage in our Newswire service.
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