Would you turn a blind eye?
Imagine eating without being able to see your food.
No, your eyes aren’t closed.
You’re eating in pitch black and being looked after by blind guides, ushering you in and out of this surreal experience they are so accustomed to.
For a few hours, that was exactly what I was doing a couple of weeks ago. I had the unique opportunity of eating at one of these ‘Dans Le Noir’ restaurants. The complete absence of one sense, my sight, not only heightened my other senses to provide a unique culinary experience but also increased my awareness, respect and empathy for those with any sort of visual impairment.
Naively I had thought that my eyes would grow familiar to the darkness and be able to focus after a while. I was wrong. For a couple of hours, my eyes were rendered helpless and I was left feeling around my plate in an attempt to ascertain how much food was left. Simple tasks like pouring water into a glass were made that much more difficult; not only did I not know where my glass was…I could not tell when to stop pouring!
As Edouard de Broglie, president of the Ethik Investment Group, which owns the restaurants says: “When you see disability as a difference, but not as a problem, then it brings you to very interesting concepts and ideas”. He believes corporate social responsibility is the root of the company, and more than 50 percent of the staff has a disability.
I have such a greater appreciation and awareness of those that do have a visual impairment. The blind guides that waiter for the evening wear T-shirts displaying a quote from Twelfth Night by Shakespeare: “There is no darkness, but ignorance”.
As I entered to eat ‘dans le noir’ I was apprehensive about the dining experience that awaited. Yet as I emerged out of the dark into the light reception area, I left knowing that the blind guides had opened my eyes to a different world.
For some, blindness may be unavoidable. Organisations such as Dans Le Noir, with a great level of corporate social responsibility, offer hope and increase the level of awareness surrounding such visual impediments.
However, there are some forms of blindness that can be prevented. So many poor people across the world suffer unnecessarily or seek medical assistance too late to prevent irreversible damage to their eyesight.
The Guildford Rotary Eye Project aims to prevent and cure avoidable blindness across the world. The charity was founded in 1998 by a Rotarian & Guildford consultant ophthalmic surgeon with a vision for restoring the sight of 1 million people. Originally, the Guildford Rotary Eye Project focused on Kolkata, in West Bengal in India, providing training for eye surgeons, equipment, buses to transport patients to and from hospitals to their rural villages and mobile eye screening camps amongst other facilities. Today, the Rotary Club of Guildford Eye Project carries out more than 40,000 operations per year in the Indian sub-continent, Africa and other developing countries.
This is why, the 10K run I’ll be doing on the 6th July, 2013 will be in aid of The Guildford Rotary Eye Project. For those of you that know me, the fact I’m volunteering to run a 10K will surprise you. If you would like to sponsor me or find out more about how and why I’m doing the July 10K race, please visit:
£5 could buy you: 5 x McDonald’s Big Macs
£5 could buy you: 2 magazines
Or you could donate £5 and give someone the gift of SIGHT.
Which gift would you rather?
Are you are interested in the commemorative philatelic cover (Above) available in limited edition of 40 hand painted as well as printed editions?
Please send an email or get in touch with the my uncle, Nirlay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A donation of £10+ to the Rotary Club of Guildford’s Eye Project will get you your own copy!
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