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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tribute to Wenzu Dalli - disability activist (and more) Part 2

So Wenzu had to find a job…

Despite having received education in the mainstream, Wenzu’s employment options were limited. In this, it must be clearly stated that his prospects were not restricted by the fact he was blind but rather by the strong negative social expectations of the day. Indeed, in Malta of his time (around the early 70s) blind people were usually expected to work either as a telephone operator or in a job policy experts considered to be doable by blind people.

Wenzu eventually became a Braille instructor. Given his thirst for knowledge, this was his best choice given his wide-ranging interests. He could not only have access to more Braille books but opened the doors to other blind people to knowledge and education.

This drive for learning and teaching manifested itself in the way he talked with different people. Indeed, Wenzu could discuss many subjects ranging from opera and yes, even art and sculpture. He left a great impression on me as I heard him speak for the first time. It was a time when I was starting to lose my vision in both eyes and looked up to Wenzu for advice at times. Although he was very confident and straight when he made his point, Wenzu never pretended to be better than those who had received a formal education.

In the same years I met him, Wenzu had started using a computer with speech output which meant that he could now access literally thousands of books and information available on the internet. Knowledge that was unavailable to him given the problems with the size and cost of Braille books.

He used to search for information on his favourite subjects, which included nature and animals. He learned quickly but, again, wasn’t a show-off but used to research a topic well if it interested him. Before I forget - did I mention that he also talked on a local radio channel on how to take care of animals? I remember listening to recordings of birds he used to download from the internet and going into great detail about the species of bird, the colour of the plumage and many other aspects of animal care. He was also a source of local guidance on animal issues in his community of Hal Ghaxaq.

Wenzu's passion for learning prompted the National Commission Persons with Disability (KNPD) to name its new resource center after him. The Wenzu Dalli Resource Center (WDRC) was officially opened in 2007.

On the other hand, it would be wrong to assume that Wenzu had only a scholar’s personality (whatever that means…)