My daughter, Alicia, is blind. We live in a suburb of San Jose, Costa Rica, and we have despaired about Alicia’s future. But, at age 7, she is experiencing for the first time the wonders of Braille, thanks to a new program at the National Resource Center for Inclusive Education. She was given a Braille coloring book in which she could feel the outline of an elephant. She was delighted, commenting on how big the drawings were.
This makes me very proud of my country. I am a native, but my husband Zak is American. He purchased some Costa Rica real estate about ten years ago, and I was his real estate agent. We communicated for several months before he came down here to check out properties, so I felt that I knew him when we first met. He was interested in the suburb of Guadalupe, which is my home territory. As two single people in our 20′s, I guess some would say that our getting together was inevitable, but they would be wrong. You see, Zak was a very reserved, even formal, person. His family is Mormon, though at the time I didn’t know what that meant. It was quite a learning experience watching how this fine young man wrote down everything that happened to him all day long.
I was quite curious about this practice, since it seems to me that writing down what you are doing as you do it would be very distracting, no? Well, apparently this is a long cultural tradition for him. I’m still not very clear why he does it, but we have shelves groaning under the weight of his notebooks. Finally in 2005 he switched to a portable computer, which probably has saved a few trees.
We got married in 2003, and Alicia was born in 2005. We knew right away that she was almost totally blind. We’ve since learned that she can make out blurry shapes, but reading is out of the question. That is why the government’s initiative for helping blind students is so important to us. We are not wealthy, and the assistance offered by the Ministry of Education is extremely appreciated. Our immediate goal is to teach Alicia Braille so that she is a fluent reader. We raised her to speak English as well as Spanish, so she is learning Braille in two languages at the same time. The human spirit never ceases to amaze me.