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I have a sister, but when we were children it didn’t feel that way. She was only home in the holidays because she was at boarding school.

My sister is blind. How far away is Worcester?
– a child wonders. I remember the treat and the tears when, at the end of another holiday, she had to get back on the train.

Always, after we’d handed in my sister’s luggage at the train, we’d go off somewhere for a meal. Dad’s treat. When you got back to the platform, there was a clamour of families seeing off children.

In later years, when we were both at high school, you’d see those ‘little ones’ again. And their mom’s who had to put them on the train with tears in their eyes. Then, your tears ran for your sister and for them. Even today, whenever I hear the song Transkaroo, those remembered tears flow again.

She first began to feel like a real sister after we’d both left school. She went to university – what else? She needed an education – how else would she fend for herself? Luckily, sis was Mom’s cleverest child. She took on university with enormous courage. Worked twice as hard as anyone else. Those years, she recorded everything on a cassette player. Needless to say, she wore out a few of them during that time.
Sometimes I think: did sis ever wonder why she was the
one in our family who couldn’t see?
She left other students speechless, because she tackled anything. Sometimes with her cane, but always with her hands as eyes. Those who didn’t know her seldom guessed she couldn’t see.

She was clever, sharp, and sometimes cheeky. I look at her, who has accomplished so much, and admire her. And then I think about children who don’t have the necessary means of help. An education is just so important. Sometimes I think: did sis ever wonder why she was the one in our family who couldn’t see?

Whenever I look at her, I know I could never have done what she’s done. In her work, she tries to do the work of two women. Every morning, she’s up at 04h00 getting herself ready for work and her child ready for school.

And she leaves her home behind each day to serve the needs of others just like her. Have you heard someone explaining over the phone to someone else how a computer programme works? How to operate it? That’s my clever sister. She’s a formidable woman. A heart so big – always wanting to help others. Children from very poor homes, or newly-blinded adults. There’s always so much that needs to be cared about.

She has a passion for teaching the wonders of braille so that other blind folk can build the best lives for themselves. But those hands, the time, and the funds are always so few – and so we often wonder what more we can do to help her help others. She is the ‘dienende Martha’ with a heart of gold.
She’s my sister.

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