Sabriye Tenberken


Sabriye Tenberken

Sabriye Tenberken (born 1970) is a German socialworker and co-founder of the organisation Braille Without Borders.

Biography

Sabriye was born near Bonn, Germany, and she became gradually visually impaired and completely blind by the age of thirteen due to retinal disease. She studied Central Asian Studies at Bonn University. In addition to Mongolian and modern Chinese, she studied modern and classical Tibetan in combination with Sociology and Philosophy.

Braille for the Tibetan language

As no blind student had ever before ventured to enroll in this kind of studies, she could not fall back on any experiences of anyone else. So she had to develop her own methods to come to terms with her course of studies. It was thus that a Tibetan Braille script for the blind was developed in 1992, which meanwhile became the official script for the blind in Tibet.

This script combines the principles of the Braille system with the special features of the Tibetan syllable-based script. This script for the blind was submitted for close examination to an eminent Tibetan scholar, who found it to be readily understandable, simple, and easy to learn. As Tibetans at the time had no script for the blind, he suggested to Sabriye that she let blind Tibetans make use of it.

A school for the blind

In 1997, Sabriye travelled to Tibet alone in order to assess the situation of the blind there. Returning in 1998, she founded the Centre for the Blind in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, to educate blind people. Before, the blind had not been able to attend school.

The centre started with education of five children with Sabriye initially teaching the children herself as well as her duties of coordinator and advisor. She then became responsible for the training of native Tibetans as teachers and trainers for the blind and she selected and supervised all staff-members.

The project's progress was not without difficulties - local Tibetans would at times cheat Sabriye, taking advantage of her blindess; many European foundations did not offer Sabriye help believing that a girl who herself was blind could not be successful with such a project, and promised funds from a German association for the blind did not materialize. Sabriye was assisted by Paul Kronenberg who had been working for the Red Cross in Shigatse. In 1998 Paul joined Sabriye in establishing the Project for the Blind, Tibet.

Braille Without Borders (BWB)

In September 2002 the project adopted the name Braille Without Borders.

In addition to the school in Lhasa BWB runs a farm and cheese factory for the vocational training of adults near Shigatse and is planning the "International School for Development and Project Planning" near Trivandrum India.

Honours and Awards

* 2000-03-08 elected Woman of the Year by members of the International Women's Club, Frankfurt, Germany (Elisabeth Norgall Award)
* 2000-08 received the Zilveren Jandaia together with Paul Kronenberg, a Dutch award for people who improve conditions in developing countries
* 2000-12-08 received the Charity Bambi award of German Media for the documentary film "Mit anderen Augen" (English: "With Other Eyes")
* 2002-09-01, received the Albert Schweitzer Award of the Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Foundation in Basel, Switzerland, together with Paul Kronenberg, handed over by the 80 year-old daughter of Albert Schweitzer
* 2002-09 received Nuremberg Teddy for Humanity together with Paul Kronenberg
* 2003-10-07 was knighted alongside Paul Kronenberg in the Order of Oranje-Nassau in the name of the Queen of The Netherlands
* 2004-02-26 received a Christopher award for her book My path leads to Tibet
* 2004-10-26 received the Time magazine European HERO 2004 award
* 2004-11-10 received the Time magazine Asia's HERO 2004 award
* 2005-01-29, chosen Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economy Forum
* 2005-03-02 Leila Hadley Luce Award for Courage of the World Wings Quest Trust Women of Discovery Awards
* 2005-10-05 awarded the Bundes Verdienstkreuz, highest German order from the German president Dr. Horst Köhler
* 2005-12 awarded the National Fundraising Award in Berlin, Germany, together with Paul Kronenberg, for fundraising methods emphasizing the strengths and motivation of blind people rather than appealing to donors' pity
* 2006-10 Sabriye and Braille Without Borders were honored as Laureates of the Mother Teresa Award

Appearances in films/talk shows

* 2000 Documentary film titled _de. "Mit anderen Augen" (German for "With Other Eyes") about the Braille Without Borders project. (This won Sabriye the 2000 Charity Bambi Award)
* 2005-08-15 talk show for CCTV 9 in Beijing, China
* 2005-10-17 guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show titled [http://www2.oprah.com/tows/pastshows/200510/tows_past_20051017.jhtml 8 Women Oprah Wants You to Know] , segment [http://www2.oprah.com/tows/slide/200510/20051017/slide_20051017_284_109.jhtml Phenomenal Females: Sabriye Tenberken's Journey]
* 2006 release of the documentary film Blindsight (2006 film) about the climbing project with Erik Weihenmayer and teens from the School for the Blind/Lhasa in the Himalaya

Bibliography

* Sabriye Tenberken (2000) "My Path Leads To Tibet", Arcade Publishing. ISBN 1-55970-658-9
* Sabriye Tenberken and Olaf Schubert (2000) "Tashis neue Welt", Dressler. ISBN 3-7915-1998-0
* Sabriye Tenberken (available in late 2006 or early 2007) "The Seventh Year - From Tibet to India"

External links

* [http://www.braillewithoutborders.org/ENGLISH/index.html Braille Without Borders]
* [http://www.braillewithoutborders.org/ENGLISH/founders.html Braille Without Borders' founders]
* [http://www.climbingblind.org/Team/sabriye_tenberken.icm Bio page on the Climbing Blind website]
* [http://www.wingsworldquest.org/programs/awards_05.htm Wings Trust "Women of Discovery" Awards]
* [http://www.1000peacewomen.org/typo/index.php?id=14&L=1&WomenID=485 Bio on the "PeaceWomen Across the Globe" website] - 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize
* [http://www.time.com/time/asia/2004/heroes/hsabriye_tenberken.html "Sabriye Tenberken - Blind, Yet A Visionary"] - 2004 TIMEasia Magazine: Asia's Heroes - 20 under 40
* [http://www.time.com/time/europe/hero2004/tenberken.html Alchemist: "The Visionary"] - TIME Europe | Heroes 2004
* [http://info.tibet.cn/en/newfeature/children/text/t20050822_49252.htm Article about Braille Without Borders on China Tibet Information Center website]
* [http://www2.oprah.com/rys/omag/rys_omag_200508_phenom.jhtml Phenomenal Woman: Sabriye Tenberken] an article from O, The Oprah Magazine


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