Focus 2009

Pakkred - THA01-10-2009

Skills Development Centre for the Blind

Project: Skills Development Centre for the Blind
Date: Since 1978
Place: Pakkred, Thailand
Province: THA

The beginnings

The common perception in Thailand was that blind people could do only two things - sell lottery tickets and be telephone operators. When the Skills Centre began the Salesians decided to also teach them carpentry and woodwork, but employers, despite all the statistics that said blind people are more careful and have fewer injuries, would not employ the students. So they began to teach them how to be massage therapists. This program began in 1983.

Fr Velardo (director) and his staff began a campaign that sought to inform people of the realities of the disability. The instruction program received support and recognition from the Ministry of Public Health. Today the massage program receives some 150 visitors daily.

Learning in Braille

A tour of the training facility gives an insight into the thoroughness of the course. All the traditional learning tools are there - mannequins, nerve and muscle charts, maps of the body labeled with organ names and acupuncture points - but there's a difference. All the names are in Braille and the charts, maps and mannequins are all covered in different textures of sandpaper, cloth, rope, wood to help students navigate by hand alone.

The two year course accepts 40 first year students annually, and his its own registered trademark. The students are so skilled that many have been licensed by the Ministry of Labour as massage teachers, teaching blind and sighted students.

The future

A new gymnasium has been built onsite, where students can get exercise and learn valuable skills. The school also teaches judo. Blind people in Bangkok, selling lottery tickets, used often be robbed, and all the police could ask was 'Can you describe him?'! Now the students learn judo and the story has been covered by major newspapers. Result? The assaults son stopped! Some students have even won national judo competitions.

Funding for the centre comes mostly from private donations, with a bit of help from the Government.

Address: Salesian of Don Bosco
Skills Development Center of the Blind
78/2 Tivanond Rd.
Pakkred 11120 (Nonthburi)
Tel: (+66)
Fax: (+66)