From October 1st that CIM Horyzonty had six more people contributing to its activities. Soon after, our ESC volunteers were invited to a few days of communal living and training in Traperska Osada. Those days included some training sessions, some moments to share about our experiences and some moments to enjoy the local nature and get to know the farm animals there. The farm animals were the sweetest! All of it was very exciting for us all. Indeed, everybody got the chance to know each other better, as well as to grow close to the coordinators and the way CIM works.
The weeks that followed focused a lot on workshops to prepare the volunteers for their tasks and to life as temporary residents in Poland. Those weeks coincided as well with the return to the covid-19 red zone, which changed all our plans completely. Very quickly we had to begin adapting to a context of less interaction. Not only less interaction with what the city has to offer, but also with the community and even in the office. Our field of vision towards the world became unavoidably reduced. We had to start switching most of our tasks into online work. At the same time, our six volunteers had to adapt as well to living close together, getting to know each other’s ways of living and characteristics. All with a reduced social life outside.
All of these changes have been a challenge for all in various ways. As a result, though, we have been developing some computer skills and online skills through this process of working remotely, which has allowed us to create a few interesting things to share with you.
On December 4th, however, we went from a reduced field of vision into full dark. We had a special experience with the volunteers, the coordinators, and some close CIM friends. It was an afternoon that put our hearing and our touch skills to the test. We began by meeting in front of Niewidzialna Ulica, an interesting place where people have the opportunity to learn about the blind community and understand better the challenges they face. We were received by a team that included blind or partially blind people, then we divided into very small groups, maintaining health safety measures, and were accompanied by someone from the team.
Undoubtedly this was an afternoon to remember. As we walked through a few rooms in complete darkness, suddenly touching ordinary objects became particularly exciting! If we cannot see, how do we manage to distinguish a piece of clothing from another? How do we perceive dimensions? How do we perceive touch? How do blind people enjoy their favourite literature if they cannot always choose from the same unlimited list that people with sight can? All of this and more was explained to us and shown to us through touch and sound.
Spending that time with the guys from Niewidzialna Ulica once again made it clear that blind people are not to be pitied. They face the challenges that being blind in a world with sight presents and they build the skills and strategies to conquer those challenges. It made it clear as well that we all can still do better in promoting a world that provides as fair a space for blind people as for people who see. Let’s accept that challenge!