10.12.2018 16:43

‘Take me to a place where people are looking only with their hearts’

Autor: Zuzana Formánková | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: Features and other

Imagine you are a child again, and your school holidays just started. What would you say to going for a trip with some other children and a few adults in order to experience something new, and to get some rest in a good company? This seems to be pretty ordinary. And now, imagine you are blind.

If someone stood under a window of the picturesque cottage in Teplice nad Metují where a group of “children” are spending their holidays, they would hear a bunch of laughing children with their adult guides, talking to each other loud, just as any other kids would. In the evening, when the sun comes down, the sound of singing and various musical instruments would leak through the walls of the little house.

There would be nothing unusual for that unknown observer until they would dare to look through the window, right in the kitchen, during the dinner time. And then, they could see something they don’t understand: one part of the group is just sitting around the table, while the others are taking their plates and cups and serving them a meal. Why don’t they stand in a row to make serving a hot soup a little easier?

It is not because they would be lazy. It is just because this is the easier way.

“We know all the participants since they were little. That’s why we call them ‘kids’, even though some of them are already adults for a long time now,” says Tomáš Haase, who organizes this and a lot of other trips for blind “children”. Some of them struggle also with autism or some other kind of mental disease.

However, that is not something people could easily recognize. There are other things that can describe better that blue, autumn weekend. Feeling the heat from a wood-burning stove, hearing boiling water in a large pot standing on the top of it, and smelling nice camomile tea, when someone throws tea bags in the pot: these are those things which together make an atmosphere of a family holiday. And also these are the things that everyone here can feel. The “children”. cannot just rely on their eyes, but that is why they use other senses so intensely. And the guides just grab the opportunity to learn from them.

“I like how things are flowing here. Everything is so natural, this whole trip just happens without some complicated schedule-making,” says Zuzana Součková, one of the guides. And children feel it the same way. “This is just a small trip, but that’s how I like it. There’s only few of us and we like each other a lot,” says fifteen-year-old Nela, smiling. And it really is true, especially for her: this little lady with dark curly hair all over her head never misses an opportunity to sit with other guides a little longer in the evening, to ask about their lives, and to share stories from her life.

When the group first comes to their temporary home, there are a bunch of things they have to do. First of all, the guides help the children to explore the place. After a few hours in the cottage, the children know perfectly where their room is and how to get into a kitchen or a bathroom. And they also know where the stove is, ideally. Little Eliška didn’t know where the stove was at first, and then she found out with her hand. “These things just happen sometimes,” another guide says while taking care of child’s injured hand. Nothing serious has ever happened: all the guides know where the limits of their relaxed attitude are.

Ultimately, there is that one thing everyone here feels: this is nothing more than a trip with children, in a good way. While the observer behind the window might think something about charity and sacrifice, you can see from the looks on the guides’ faces that they enjoy every moment spent with the “exceptional children”: they like showing them places they could not reach on their own, letting them know they are capable of much more than they have thought. And the guides get the opportunity to look at the world with their hearts in return.

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