BELGRADE – I have lived in Belgrade for eleven years and count on the fingers of one hand how many times I saw a blind person in a public space, although I often pass by the school for blind and vision-impaired persons Veljko Radomanović in Zemun, which was attended by my brother. Although I do not know any vision-impaired people in Belgrade, their problems are well known to me. Serbia has almost 12,000 people who are blind or have poor eyesight, and according to data from last year, only 500 of them are employed. Other European countries boast much better statistics – in Spain, for example, it is difficult to find a blind person who is unemployed.
Comparing our state administration with those from other European countries is always thankless and easy to embark on a debate, but is not inappropriate. No state should turn its back on people who need help the most.
By Poetry to Revitalisation of the Library
”As noble as it is of us to think intensively about those around us who are blind or vision-impaired, so ungenerous is it that we do not do so every day“ Gordana Vlajić of the All About agency said on 15 October on the occasion of the World White Stick Day, dedicated to blind and vision-impaired persons.
Vlajić was talking in Belgrade's Cultural Centre Dom Omladine Belgrade and rightly praising people who surrounded her. She invited many to join her and share a few words about the publication of a book of poems by Ivanka Radmanović, Amarant, or about Immortal Love.
Radmanović, a designer who is based in New York City, has no problem with her eyesight, but obviously also has no problem with a lack of empathy. She wholeheartedly joined the project Poems that See, organised in co-operation with the Association of Blind Persons of Serbia. The aim of the project is for the income from the sales of the book to be donated for the revitalisation of the Dr Milan Budimir library for blind and vision-impaired persons in Belgrade.
”It is characteristic that all the participants in the project participated unselfishly in it, without expecting any financial reward. We approached the project as if we in our best early years when we do not ask what something costs, but enter into endeavours wholeheartedly“, Luka Joksimović Barbat, the Secretary of the Association of Blind Persons of Serbia, said.
Poems that See
The Poems that See project was conceived as an action which has no intention of ending and implies the periodical publication of books and CDs with poems of contemporary Serbian and foreign poets. Ivanka Radmanović said that the Greek work amarant signifies among other things a symbol of immortality, faith, loyalty and persistence in love. In the All About agency this was understood literally, and the unephemeral value of the audio edition of the book is guaranteed by actors with wonderful voices – Žarko Laušević and Lora Orlović, who read the verses.
The charm and the glamour of the actors could assist blind persons who have not been enabled subsidised or free obtaining of modern technology, although the existence of 43 municipal and inter-municipal organisations of blind persons indicates that there are people in Serbia who need such equipment.
”Besides new technical equipment, blind people also need Braille books, as well as recorded books. Several things must also be resolved on the regulatory plane. Although legislation today is better than thirty years ago, what is good in it is not being applied, or is applied very little“, Joksimović Barbat said.
That is proof that towards the needs of some 12,000 vision-impaired people the state institutions are behaving as if they too were blind. The Arte publishing house recognised the possibility of helping and supported the project Poems that See. Arte will ensure that after sale at the Belgrade Book Fair (Hall No. 1), Amarant, or about Immortal Love finds its way to most major bookstores in the country.
From Words to Actions
I know from experience that the first reaction of people to a blind person is usually compassion. There is usually no other reaction. If there is any, it usually artificial and almost theatrical cordiality, which in spite of good intentions can provoke a negative effect. Blind people feel very well when someone looks at them only as persons with a disability, and we easily forget that compassion has no value unless it stimulates the resolution of burning problems. If compassion is not channeled into something constructive for those with disabilities, it is no more than belittling such persons. Amarant, or about Immortal Love, and the projects Poems that See show in the best possible manner how a united group of altruistic people has avoided the trap and very successfully gone from worlds to actions.
Source: House of Good News