A blind Singaporean woman recently shared that her goal in 2019 is to climb up Mount Everest's base camp
It has been 33 years since the former teacher lost her eyesight
"One evening, I was marking my students' papers after dinner. Suddenly, everything went dark. I checked [with] my mum whether the lights [were] on.
"She said all the lights [were] bright, but I was not even able to see my own fingers," Reena explained, adding that the ophthalmologist diagnosed her with silent acute glaucoma in which water pressure in her eyes damaged her optic nerves.
"My dad and elder brother wanted to donate one eye each so that I would be able to see. But the doctors said no. Even if there was an eye transplant, it would not work," the ex-teacher added.
Having lost her eyesight, Reena eventually spiralled into depression and attempted suicide several times
She had to give up her teaching career and she refused to use a walking cane to avoid being pitied.
"Every night, I [would] always be wandering around my room, not able to sleep. I was always crying in the darkness. Not being able to see was one thing, but [in] my heart, [there] was so much anger," she shared.
It was when a friend invited her to visit a home for disabled people in Johor that the former teacher's life took a turn
As Reena listened to the many unfortunate stories from people in the home, she realised that these people were living life well despite having lost more than one sense.
"It really not only hit me hard, it brought [about] a turning point. I realised I’m only disabled in my eyes, not in my mind and my heart," the woman said.
From then on, Reena learned how to type, use the computer using her voice, and read Braille. She also began to visit several homes monthly and even founded a Christian volunteer group in 2002.
She shared that she slowly expanded her volunteer efforts which now involves about 12 homes in Johor with about 20 to 30 new people joining every month.
Reena now travels often and hikes mountains during her travels
Some of her favourites countries she has visited in the past years are the Philippines, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, with Australia being the top of her list.
"I like travelling on my own because I cannot wait every time for people to follow me," she shared.
A lot of people ask me, ‘You cannot see, why are you travelling?’ Yes, I cannot see. But I enjoy the atmosphere and enjoy everything by listening, smelling, touching, hearing.
"People always have the idea that we visually impaired are not able to do many things in life. There are many visually impaired who… just stay at home."
"The reason is because people don’t believe in them and they're very discouraged. I think everybody as a society, including the government, must give them their dignity. Not to feel pitiful for the blind, you know, not to reject them."
"At one point, I felt so hopeless and helpless in my life. So I felt that I should go into these homes to encourage, so that they will not feel the same," the woman shared, adding that she realised that it became a meaningful purpose in her life.
"So I think we have to believe in ourselves, and to move forward. You know, the vision, the blindness will not limit me."
Reena now also works as a part-time consultant at ROHEI Corporation and will soon move to Australia to work.
"I'm doing all this because my vision and my heart and my passion is to finish the base camp, Mount Everest."