Cars speed by potholes, wandering cattle,
Matoke transporters—horns scream,
A market-bound mother braves the boda-boda,
Two men carry on conversation, and chickens
Rake and probe red dirt, their morning
Hunt suddenly intruded upon by a yellow
Jug-turned-kickball sending them into a flightless
I wrote this poem for my graduate poetry class about some of the sights I saw in Uganda. In 2009, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Helen Keller Deaf-Blind World Conference — an experience I will never forget. I straddled the equator, dipped my toes in the largest lake in the world, experienced cultures from around the world, saw the bustling national capital and lush green rural landscapes, got stuck in the mud, ventured to the zoo, and – my favorite – visited two deaf schools. It’s been almost 10 years and I still think about my adventure in Uganda and I thank God that I was blessed with this opportunity.
While browsing the internet, I came across an interesting article that brought to my attention that much of my memories are based on what I perceived with my eyes. The article discusses how people who are blind can enjoy sightseeing through their other senses, most notably through hearing. They can take in the different sounds all around them – like screaming horns, whirring boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis), complaining cattle, squawking chickens, something plastic being kicked, and chattering people.
But what about those who are blind AND deaf?
Someone would have to recount the bustling commute. The cars and boda-bodas, the wandering and complaining cattle, the squawking chickens, and definitely the yellow jug-turned-kickball. The article not only reassured me that I can still enjoy sightseeing if and when my visions decides to totally fade, but it reminded me not to keep the beautiful sight of something so simple, like a yellow jug-turned-kickball to myself. To relish in God’s beauty and to share it with my blind and deafblind friends.
I decided to write and share a new poem focusing on what I felt and smelled while visiting the Ntinda School for the Deaf in Uganda.
Little Ntinda Hands
Stepping out of the van, welcomed by
The mingling scent of dirt and soap,
A small hand slips into mine, pulling me
Across uneven terrain, barely dodging puddles –
Left over by the morning rains – thick
Wet dirt cake my shoes. Inside, more little
Hands slip into mine, arms encircling
Me, filling my entire being with
If you are blind or deafblind and have had amazing opportunities to go sightseeing, please share your experiences with me. I would love to hear them.