Keeping the Curiosity Alive Series: A Letter from Ukraine

Dear John and Carolyn,

Just to refresh your memory, the Corvallis-Sister Cities Association supports the TOUCH Project and their annual trips to visit children’s programs in Uzhgorod.  One of the programs TOUCH supports is Public School #14, a K-8 Roma school in the city.  The students there are primarily from low-income or impoverished households.  One of their students is a blind girl named Angela who is now 11 years old.  In the summer of 2017, the principal of Public School #14 wrote and asked me to help find some resources in the United States for blind children that could help the school support Angela’s education.  She was starting third grade and needed to be able to read to keep up with her classmates.   I located an expert at Columbia Regional Programs in Portland who suggested three key tools for Angela:  1) a Perkins Brailler, 2) a tactile drawing board, and 3) a Braille embosser.  That fall the TOUCH delegation carried a brailler and drawing board for Angela.  In addition, a blind graduate student at the local university was hired to tutor Angela weekly through the school year.

In 2018, I sought your help in securing the embosser and picked it up at your facility at the end of August to take to Ukraine.   In addition to the embosser, I took a new laptop computer I had purchased with the funds I raised from friends.  While in Ukraine, I was able to visit a regional boarding school for blind children in Mucachevo.  As an aside, the administrators were interested to hear about the ViewPlus embosser as the school does not have one!  The librarian in Mucachevo shared information on where to order Braille textbooks in Ukrainian and with more funds we brought, Public School #14 was able to buy an alphabet book in Braille for Angela.

Within several months of delivering the equipment, the embosser was working and being used to print classroom materials for Angela.  The school principal’s son works at the university but provides IT support and he was able to locate the Ukrainian Braille tables he needed to translate from the internet to the embosser.  Angela continued to work with her tutor to build her skills on the Brailler and drawing board but also the laptop. 

When the delegation traveled to Uzhgorod last September, I was not able to join them.  They sent lots of photos though and brought back a thank-you note from Angela for me that was printed from the embosser.  By all accounts, Angela is thriving at the school and her future looks bright.

Thank you again for making it possible to provide the embosser.  I am attaching some photos and the thank-you note. 

Best regards,

Angela and I are meeting for the first time in September 2018.
Here is the embosser and laptop installed at Public School #14 (with Angela’s tutor, Olexander Neimet,  seated nearby.)
This is difficult to see but it is an embosser-generated math workbook used by Angela.
Here is Angela at school working with her tutor on the laptop.
This is the thank-you letter (and English translation) that Angela wrote to me in September 2019.