Sightseeing While Deafblind

Morning Commute

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
Scramble.

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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. 

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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
Love.

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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.

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5 thoughts on “Sightseeing While Deafblind

  1. i can imagine all the other senses become so much more sharp tuned. Helen Keller could tell a lot about the people entering the room from the floor vibrations and moving air. sounds kind of weird but once you learn to have to rely on other senses that’s kind of the beauty of it too, noticing details in where others miss them.
    and while traveling or spending time outdoors… even the air can feel so different. scents, smells, sounds, tastes, touch…
    i love exploring different places, foods, people… and the older i get the more i like nature and less people around. cats, dogs, other fluffy animals in a farm sounds like a lovely place to live, or to visit, and those places can still be so different in different parts of the world.
    one of the lovelies places to visit (unless perhaps a wheelchair user): ireland. fresh air, helpful and friendly people…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! The things you can feel, smell, and taste can make your traveling experiences exciting. A big part of traveling to another place is tasting their food! Even in different parts of the U.S. I’m always seeing people asking about where they should go eat when visiting another city.

      I’ve only been to Uganda and Jamaica but I would love to go to Ireland and England some day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. plus people have so different habits (so different and so the same).
        foods are a lovely way to explore even the home city – why have the same things everywhere? so many different kinds of cuisines to try.
        and in US there are so big differences indeed.

        Liked by 1 person

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