Two foreign volunteers who have spent the past four years helping blind people in Tibet depart for Hong Kong today to continue their mission by raising funds and public awareness.
Paul Kronenberg 33, and Sabriye Tenberken, 31, are the founders of the Project for the Blind, Tibet. They established a school for blind children in Lhasa, capital of the autonomous region, and also show blind adults how to better cope with the rigors of life.
"There is an extremely high percentage of blind people in Tibet compared with the other parts of China because of climatic and hygienic reasons," Kronenberg told Shanghai Daily after addressing 1,000 students at the Shanghai American School on Monday.
Students and teachers from the school have seen the project first-hand during their summer trips to Lhasa.
Kronenberg, from the Netherlands, said he helped his German friend, Tenberken, launch the project in May 1998.
Blind herself, Tenberken had earned a degree in Central Asia studies from Bonn University.
On a visit to Tibet, she decided to do whatever she could to help improve life for the region's sightless residents.
Based on her studies of modern and classical Tibetan at college, Tenberken developed a Tibetan version of Braille.
Twenty-six youngsters are currently enrolled at the school the pair opened, studying English, life skills and mobility training.
Kronenberg and Tenberken raised funds for the program in their native countries and mustered support from the government and enterprises in Tibet.
Donations to the project are welcome. Information is available on www.blinden-zentrum-tibet.de or via email at BLZTib@t-online.
(eastday.com April 17, 2002)