Sometimes the people most capable of saving the world are the ones who don’t expect anything in return. Sabriye Tenberken lost her sight at age 12 and while studying Central Asian Sciences at Bonn University, Sabriye developed a Braille script for the Tibetan language that would later become the renowned standard text. Sabriye went on to initiate Tibet’s first school for the blind, wrote a bestselling book that has been translated into 13 languages and participated in the making of an award winning documentary, Blindsight, that follows six blind Tibetan teenagers on their journey to climb a mountain in the shadow of Everest.
Together with an inspired social engineer, Paul Kronenberg, the two have changed the landscape of the blind and broadened our vision about what it means to be truly empowered. This is the kind of vision that really matters in the world today.
Sabriye Tenberken and Paul Kronenberg: helping the blind attain equal opportunity in society
In addition to Braille Without Borders, helping the blind attain equal opportunity in society, Sabriye and Paul co-founded Kanthari formerly known as the International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs. In Trivandrum, Kerala Kanthari offers a seven month curriculum, preparing future change-makers to turn their dreams into reality. Focusing on social solutions, movements, campaigns and innovation, a new class of social entrepreneurs within India and Nepal now have the resources for taking the lead in advocating focused and sustainable change. Exemplary alumni and their impact can be seen on Kanthari’s website.
Graduates of a recently concluded seven-month Kanthari programme
Khom Raj Sharma is one of the alumni of the Kanthari programme, who sought to voice the concerns of the blind in order that they are able to access the same goods and services as the rest of society. His goal is to fight discrimination against the visually impaired, who are often neglected due to religious and cultural stigmatization. With entrepreneurial vision however, Mr. Sharm started the Inclusion Empowerment Center. In the town of Pokhara, Nepal, I.E.C. trains the visually impaired in the English language and computer technology, empowering them to feel capable of inclusion in sectors of the labor force and of higher education.
Other organizations with various goals continue to spring to life across different parts of the world. From rights of women, rights of Albinos, fighting female circumcision in Kenya and setting up programs for ex-child soldiers in Sierra Leone, a new paradigm of leadership has evolved and been realized at the hands of critical doers for ethical social change. If that simple fact is not inspiration enough, they come to us from the margins of society.
Kanthari and Braille Without Borders are lighthouses for great things to come.