view from the roof of the world

braille without borders classroom in tibetBraille reading kits and Braille canes were deservedly top sellers amongst Intrepid Foundation ‘Global Gifts’ sales this Christmas. These will be distributed by Braille Without Borders (BWB), a wonderful organisation bringing education to blind children in Tibet. They have made extraordinary inroads in not just education, but also dispelling myths around disability in Tibet. Sabriye, the founder of BWB, updates us on their news…

“Right now, Tibet is freezing cold. On the farm, at an altitude of 3900m, the temperature varies between 11 degrees celsius during daytime and minus 11 degrees at night. Everyone has prepared for the coldest winter months of January and February. Our Tibetan colleagues use south-facing greenhouse like structures in front of the dormitory-windows to collect the heat of the sun. On the doors the house parents have placed extra quilts and blankets to protect the kids from the icy winds.

All children are packed in thick jackets, winter boots and winter ‘long johns’. During meals in the dining room an old iron Tibetan yak-dung stove is lit up to heat up the room and to boil water. In late December, all blind students who attend regular schools returned to their homes, but before doing so, they stop-over at the farm, their second home, to celebrate their achievements.

Kiki and Kyila are BWB graduates who are now helping run the show. Kiki’s kindergarten had a Father Christmas. Kyila discovered the German Nicolaus tradition on her visit at my parent’s place in Germany. All her children leave their shoes outside the dormitory and in the morning their shoes are filled with sweets, oranges or small little gifts.

After a very successful autumn, the preparatory school in Lhasa has closed down for the long winter break. In October and November our students and teachers were busy with sensitizing the government and the society for the needs and the rights of the blind. The children created theatre-plays, tragedies and comedies, and one play about the advantages of a life with a white cane. These theatre plays were performed on the streets of Lhasa and received a lot of positive feedback. After the students’ end of the year exams, they have travelled to their home villages. For most students this takes several days since they live in the rural areas high up in the mountains of Tibet.”

For more of the marvellous news of Braille Without Borders, please visit

Braille Without Borders also has an extraordinary program operating out of Kerala in India, fostering leadership in visionary people who have overcome adversity, from all around the world. More participants are needed for this year’s 7-month ‘Kanthari’ program. For more information please click here.

The Intrepid Foundation – travellers making a difference
You too can be a proud supporter of Braille Without Borders via The Intrepid Foundation, and your donations could be doubled* by Intrepid Travel!

* Donations will be matched by Intrepid Travel up to AU$5000 (or equivalent) per donor and a total of AU$400,000 each financial year.

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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