There’s a question of motive when a group of university students go to visit a primary school for the blind in a far from wealthy area. Or make that any type of visit by a privileged group to a much less privileged one. Who is it really for? Is it possible to make a real connection in the span of an hour?
This was many years ago, when our young minds were full of hope and a sense of purpose – we were going to change the world. How was not really clear, nor did it matter that much then.
We arrived early. The school seemed deserted. And I could be wrong, but I remember hail coming down, round as the eyes of frozen fish. The iron roofs rattled like gunfire. The gray concrete suddenly glistening. A few minutes later the tropical heat melted away all traces of those cold fish eyes.
The school bell rang. The sound of children laughing as they ran came rushing. We were standing next to the glass door of the school offices. And I thought then, what an odd thing to have in a school for the blind, glass doors. With that thought I instantly grew worried as I saw the children who could not see approach us running – yes, running like ordinary children!
The girl who was leading came to a sudden stop just as she was about to reach the glass door. She turned toward us, knowing there were strangers around her. She tried to give a smile, but it had a startled look, like a gasp of fear being stifled. She didn’t say anything. She just stood there, frozen, until one of the administrators came to introduce us to all of them.
The rest of that day I can no longer recall. Just that, a blind girl running then coming to a stop.