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La Luz de Esperanza Opens for Low Vision Children

By Pamela Brown

If you are near Reloj, Hidalgo, Insurgentes, or Mesones in the afternoons, you might see little boys with white canes learning to find their way on city sidewalks, memorizing the layout of the streets like a mental map. These are the children of La Luz de Esperanza (The Light of Hope), a new program for low vision and blind children. Seven children now meet three times a week to learn how to navigate the city streets with their bastones (white canes) and to learn Braille, an essential skill and the basis for learning what the rest of world learns through reading.

The program began as a goal of the San Miguel de Allende-Vision Impaired People, or SMA-VIP, an adult support group for low-vision expats and Mexican nationals which is co-chaired by Gael Sherman and Pamela Brown. The low vision adults, most of whom lost their vision as adults, know the challenges of living with little or no vision. They want to assist low vision Mexican children who have far too few resources for achieving an adequate education or career.

In September La Luz de Esperanza found a home through the generosity of Liceo de la Lingua, the Spanish language school on del Pueblito. Initial funding came from an unlikely source: Ernest Baele, a member of SMA-VIP, passed away, and his family donated all his household effects to the program for low-vision children. Volunteers held an estate sale and earned enough money to purchase Braille instructional equipment, to provide lunch for the children, and to offer a small stipend to two teachers and a classroom assistant.

Recently La Luz de Esperanza became an affiliate program of The Lions Club of San Miguel de Allende. The Lions Club’s weekly eye clinic, where they examine eyes and issue free eyeglasses to poor children, makes them a natural partner in supporting children with serious eye issues. Follow this link to the Lion’s website to see the work of the Lions Club and a video of the children learning Braille and practicing with their white canes: smalionsclub.webstarts.com.

It was a happy day November 9 when 35 children and adults celebrated this new opportunity for low vision children. One day the program will be more than mobility and Braille. It will help these children achieve the same dreams that all children have and that their families have for them. There should be no limits for these children and, ojala, there will not be.

For more information, email Pamela Brown at pamelajean.brown@gmail.com.

 

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