Saturday, August 1, 2015

Zarina's vacation

I’ve written before about my friend Zarina. Because of a visual impairment, she can’t go anywhere without a guide, which often means me. She was on vacation when I came back from Boston. Her vacation spanned the whole month of July, and she started it at home with her mom. However, she asked if I could take her to another Lightsound concert, and she came back to Minsk specifically for that.

The concert was a dud, but I finally got her to understand that I was serious about forming an organization to provide volunteer guides for any of the visually impaired people in Minsk. I needed her help finding somebody to act as coordinator for the service. We had several opportunities to discuss the idea over the following days because Zarina didn’t have much to do when she didn’t have a guide.

She kicked things off by asking me to help her get an updated photo of herself for social media. Her boyfriend and I took her for a long walk through several downtown parks. We had a nice walk and I took lots of pictures. After a couple of these outings she relaxed and became more talkative, telling me that she’d lived all her life in programs for the blind and that she had until then felt that she didn’t know what to say in conversation with a sighted person. This melted my heart enough that I took her for some more walks and pressed the idea of building an organization to make more volunteers available to more people.

Finally, Zarina found me the right person: her roommate. Masha has a degree in social work and she can see well enough to use a computer and even ride a bike. We all sat down together last week to talk about how the service might work, and Masha effectively led the conversation. She has far more ideas than I did and she has the time and enthusiasm to make them happen. Now it’s time for me to round up a bunch of volunteers. So far, so good.

No comments:

Post a Comment