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My Path Leads to Tibet: The Inspiring Story of How One Young Blind Woman Brought Hope to the Blind Children of Tibet

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While studying Chinese and Asian civilizations in college, Sabriye Tenberken was stunned to learn that in Tibet blind children were living in appalling conditions—shunned by society, abandoned, and left to their own devices. Sabriye, who had lost her sight at the age of twelve as the result of a retinal disease, promised herself early on that she would never allow her blin While studying Chinese and Asian civilizations in college, Sabriye Tenberken was stunned to learn that in Tibet blind children were living in appalling conditions—shunned by society, abandoned, and left to their own devices. Sabriye, who had lost her sight at the age of twelve as the result of a retinal disease, promised herself early on that she would never allow her blindness to turn her into an invalid. When she heard of a place where sightlessness was practically akin to leprosy, the decision was instant: she would go to Tibet to help these children. Armed with nothing but her conviction and determination, she single-handedly devised a Tibetan Braille alphabet and opened the first school for the blind in Lhasa, with only a handful of students. From its modest beginnings, that school has grown into a full-fledged institution for visually impaired people of all ages. In My Path Leads to Tibet, Sabriye, whom some have called a modern Mother Teresa, shares the inspiring story of how she shined an unlikely light in a dark place.


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While studying Chinese and Asian civilizations in college, Sabriye Tenberken was stunned to learn that in Tibet blind children were living in appalling conditions—shunned by society, abandoned, and left to their own devices. Sabriye, who had lost her sight at the age of twelve as the result of a retinal disease, promised herself early on that she would never allow her blin While studying Chinese and Asian civilizations in college, Sabriye Tenberken was stunned to learn that in Tibet blind children were living in appalling conditions—shunned by society, abandoned, and left to their own devices. Sabriye, who had lost her sight at the age of twelve as the result of a retinal disease, promised herself early on that she would never allow her blindness to turn her into an invalid. When she heard of a place where sightlessness was practically akin to leprosy, the decision was instant: she would go to Tibet to help these children. Armed with nothing but her conviction and determination, she single-handedly devised a Tibetan Braille alphabet and opened the first school for the blind in Lhasa, with only a handful of students. From its modest beginnings, that school has grown into a full-fledged institution for visually impaired people of all ages. In My Path Leads to Tibet, Sabriye, whom some have called a modern Mother Teresa, shares the inspiring story of how she shined an unlikely light in a dark place.

30 review for My Path Leads to Tibet: The Inspiring Story of How One Young Blind Woman Brought Hope to the Blind Children of Tibet

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mom

    An impressive young woman, at the age of 26 Sabriye Tenberken moved to Tibet to found a school for the blind where she taught the Braille alphabet she had invented. This book records her experiences as a blind woman traveling on horseback to track down blind children in remote villages, starting her school in spite of the challenges of fund-raising, unhelpful bureaucracies, intense weather and a culture that saw the blind as cursed. I was impressed with her determination, courage and persistence An impressive young woman, at the age of 26 Sabriye Tenberken moved to Tibet to found a school for the blind where she taught the Braille alphabet she had invented. This book records her experiences as a blind woman traveling on horseback to track down blind children in remote villages, starting her school in spite of the challenges of fund-raising, unhelpful bureaucracies, intense weather and a culture that saw the blind as cursed. I was impressed with her determination, courage and persistence. Through the book I learned a great deal about Tibetan culture (foreigners are not welcomed into Tibetan homes, although the culture is very welcoming otherwise; they drink a lot of hot salted butter tea) and about blindness. I especially appreciated her discussion of why the blind do not live in a world of "dark." While I appreciated the book, I was not impressed with the amateurish writing. Tenberken would have benefitted from a co-writer to more appealingly share her story. But much more disappointing was Tenberken's tone: she was often highly critical of other people, so often that I had to think many of her problems were of her own making. She also was inconsistent in her expectations, at times complaining when sighted people "condescended" by offering to help her and then at other times complaining that help was not offered when she wanted it. So, all-in-all, an inspiring book and filled with information about Tibet, but disappointing in the quality of the writing and in some of the characteristics of the author. I feel bad giving only two stars to a book by such an incredible woman -- but of course I'm rating the book, not the person.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paulien

    is really a very inspiring book. it is a must read book! you learn so much about how to look to the possibility and not to what you can not! is all about not giving up hope, but believing that things will work out and that everything is possible if you just believe in it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Love this book - very engaging, and very inspiring. Makes you think about what one determined and motivated individual can do-highly recommended.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jean Tischart

    Amazing story I chose this book because I like to read about true adventures of real people in different countries. What a special woman Sabriye is. I am so glad she shared her story. I am also so happy she was so successful in taking care of those poor misjudged blind children.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Em Krauss

    I really enjoyed reading this book. Reading about this blind lady who starts a school for blind kids in Tibet was very inspiring to read. I highly recommend this book to everyone to read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Lawson

    At a young age, the author, at the time a college student, decides to go to Tibet. Against all advice, she goes completely on her own. Of course, there's one big complication--she can't see at all! Not to worry, she tells herself. In the past, whenever she needed assistance, she found that some kind soul would see her white cane, and offer assistance. In China, however, the people don't know what a white cane is--they think it's some kind of walking stick! Many of the people who see her think she At a young age, the author, at the time a college student, decides to go to Tibet. Against all advice, she goes completely on her own. Of course, there's one big complication--she can't see at all! Not to worry, she tells herself. In the past, whenever she needed assistance, she found that some kind soul would see her white cane, and offer assistance. In China, however, the people don't know what a white cane is--they think it's some kind of walking stick! Many of the people who see her think she's some dimwit, who doesn't know how to avoid water puddles, or how to do simple navigation. The author developed R.P (Retinitis Pigmentosa) at a very young age. Here's the key to the story: Instead of feeling sorry for herself, Sabriye decides to go where no one has gone before. She is intent on helping the poor blind children in Tibet--and no one is going to stop her! And so, that is exactly what the author did. She didn't listen to all the naysayers and doubters. Overcoming a huge amount of obstacles the author establishes a home for blind children in Tibet. MY PATH LEADS TO TIBET is the story of this grand adventure. This book relates the adventures that the author encounters on this mind-boggling trip to bring braille to the little blind children. In Tibet, blind children were seen as either a curse, or a way to make money for the family (by begging.) Many of the blind kids were simply cast aside. The author's journey sometimes meant riding horses near cliffs, sleeping in huts filled with rats, or having her visa canceled. Even her sponsoring organization was not faithful in supporting her, and saw Sabriye as more of a troublemaker than anything else. You name it, Sabriye encountered, then overcame these obstacles. MY PATH LEADS TO TIBET is an absolutely unbelievable story! Except it REALLY HAPPENED. This book is an inspiration for others who suffer similar disadvantages. It's an inspiration to others who do NOT have these disadvantages. Finally, this story has special meaning for this reviewer, since my daughter is gradually losing her sight to the same eye disease--R.P. I am glad that this wonderful person, Sabriye Tenberken, had the courage and inspiration to pursue her dreams. There are lots of little blind children in the world who have a better life thanks to the author. My hat is off to her.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Giddy Girlie

    After watching a slew of Everest documentaries, I came across the documentary Blindsight about a school for the blind in Tibet and how a famous blind mountaineer took some of them climbing near Everest. The woman who founded the school, Sabriye Tenberken, is blind herself and had come from Germany to establish this school and offer a place for Tibet's blind children to learn. It was amazing and I was so moved that I immediately had to know more about these schools! I saw that Sabriye (sorry to b After watching a slew of Everest documentaries, I came across the documentary Blindsight about a school for the blind in Tibet and how a famous blind mountaineer took some of them climbing near Everest. The woman who founded the school, Sabriye Tenberken, is blind herself and had come from Germany to establish this school and offer a place for Tibet's blind children to learn. It was amazing and I was so moved that I immediately had to know more about these schools! I saw that Sabriye (sorry to be a little casual, she strikes me as the kind of lady who would insist on being known by her first name and not "Ms." anything!) had a memoir about her journey to Tibet and I bought it immediately and read it all in a single sitting. I don't know that I can offer any comment on this woman's life that can compliment her accomplishments properly. Just a taste of the strength of this woman: she traveled to Tibet by herself with the idea to establish a school to teach braille because she had just created a Tibetan translation for braille. Then she headed into the countryside on horseback with only one companion - someone she met while traveling (she did not bring a 'sighted' companion with her on this journey, feeling that she didn't need one), broke down social stigma barriers related to blindness in encouraging the locals to ADMIT that there were, indeed, blind children (because most Tibetans are Buddhist, they believe that afflictions such as blindness are a penance for sins in a past life, so most blind people are shunned and treated poorly. When researching for this expedition, Sabriye was told by the government that there were NO blind people in Tibet.), then she goes and establishes a school and hires a staff and takes in a group of kids who are so eager to learn that you can't help but read with tears running down your face. It's truly a remarkable story and Sabriye Tenberken is my hero.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dozo

    After losing her sight by the time she reached double-digits, and suffering considerable irritation from people who think she is handicapped, Sabrye Tenberken decides to go and found a school for the blind in Tibet. Dispite challenges from local authorities and her sponsors in Germany, she manages to found her school. While I found the book readable, I have to give it an average rating though because I found she complains a bit about people helping her and then expects people to help her which w After losing her sight by the time she reached double-digits, and suffering considerable irritation from people who think she is handicapped, Sabrye Tenberken decides to go and found a school for the blind in Tibet. Dispite challenges from local authorities and her sponsors in Germany, she manages to found her school. While I found the book readable, I have to give it an average rating though because I found she complains a bit about people helping her and then expects people to help her which was a little weird.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Esmidy

    I gave this book 5 stars in spite of its lack of editorial polish (it was written by a blind person, after all, then translated from German). It's a great story from an inspiring woman who takes on more than seems possible under the circumstances. I originally learned of Sabriye from the movie "Blindsight" and just had to learn more about this courageous (and beautiful) woman and her efforts with Tibetan blind children. This is not a story about the handicapped-- it's an epic adventure that is a I gave this book 5 stars in spite of its lack of editorial polish (it was written by a blind person, after all, then translated from German). It's a great story from an inspiring woman who takes on more than seems possible under the circumstances. I originally learned of Sabriye from the movie "Blindsight" and just had to learn more about this courageous (and beautiful) woman and her efforts with Tibetan blind children. This is not a story about the handicapped-- it's an epic adventure that is all the more impressive and interesting because of the complication of blindness.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    Overall, I enjoyed this book. I am fascinated with Tibet and would love to travel there someday, so this book caught my eye. The story is amazing. I think it would be difficult to travel to Tibet and I do not have any disabilities! The only reason I gave this book only three stars is because sometimes the author is just a little whiny. Other than that, great book!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jena

    Sabriye Tenberken is one of those rare individuals, who sees a problem and fixes it, rather than waiting on others to do so. She created a Tibetan Braille alphabet, and then implemented the education of blind Tibetan children by starting her own school. The book gets three stars, since the story seems to jump from topic to topic sometimes, but the story it tells is worth five stars!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    The fact that this book was relatively hard to come by means it's not being read by nearly enough people. Let's fix that shall we? Watch the documentary Blindsight, read this book, and you'll no doubt marvel at the intelligence, skill, and seemingly boundless generosity of Sabriye Tenberken.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Naga rick

    How a blind german woman named 'Sabriye Tenberken' starts a school for blind kids in tibet (Braille Without Borders). Watch 'Blindsight' documentary as well that shows a story of blind children climbing Mount Everest.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Suze

    Girlpower!! If you really want something, nothing can hold you back! Live your dream...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    Written by a blind woman who in her late 20's traveled to Tibet to start a blind school there. Very intersting. Braille Without Borders is her organization.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The author's native language is German, not English, so the writing seems a bit juvenile, but the story is truly inspiring.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mary Louise

    Watched the movie, Blindsight, last night about how one, brave woman can make a huge difference in the world.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    really impressive story of a woman who knew just what she wanted to do in the world and did it. the writing isn't astounding, but the story makes up for it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tania Scutt

    Very inspirational woman and story. By coincidence, after we had read the book, we found Sabriye's school in Lhasa and had a conversation with her partner. Sabriye turned up at the end.

  20. 4 out of 5

    nicole

    A very inspiring and moving book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Suzanna

    A fascinating read. Recommended by Oliver Sacks in "The Mind's Eye".

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    This is a really interesting story but the writing didn't appeal to me. I've seen her in interviews (how I heard of the book) and really respect her but had to "work" to get through the book. Bummer.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paget

    Her perseverance to follow her dream is impressive, not the greatest writer though, made me realize I have zero desire to ever go to Tibet, not that it was on my "get to someday" list anyway.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    A little self congratulatory, but entertaining, inspiring, believable.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Such an inspiring story. I was fortunate enough to hear Sabriye Tenberken speak, and her tenacious voice and indomitable spirit really shine through in her writing.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sukhita

    This is A very inspiring book. If you believe anything is possible. It is a book of hope

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rosa

    I think it's a great book, that opens your eyes to a new culture.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Vigil

    Great book, very inspirational story!❤️

  29. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    This is an amazing story.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Esra

    Inspiring story of a blind girl helping Tibetan blind children, greta story.

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