[Perform-talk] Life as Blind Journalist in Afghanistan

Donna Hill penatwork at epix.net
Sat Aug 28 17:06:08 UTC 2010

Hi Friends,
I just found this story about a blind journalist, and I am copying it 
below along with the original link.

Life as Blind Journalist in Afghanistan
Successful news editor and presenter overcame disability, prejudice and 
low expectations.
Abdul Latif Sahak
ARR Issue 366,
1 Jul 10
list of 1 items

Sayed Mohammad Yazdan Parast is a successful presenter and news editor 
with Radio Nehad, Mazar-e Sharif.
list end

Thirteen-year-old Sayed Mohammad Yazdan Parast was sitting in his usual 
seat in the back row of the classroom, watching his teacher draw a 
geometrical circle
on the blackboard. All of a sudden, the central dot of the circle 
disappeared. He thought that perhaps there was something wrong with the 

The next day, the Afghan schoolboy sat one row closer to the blackboard. 
Over the next eight days he gradually moved forward row by row, until he 
was sitting
right at the front. But by this time he could no longer see the 
blackboard, let alone anything drawn on it.

"I finally realised that it wasn’t the blackboard or the chalk that had 
lost their clarity; it was my eyes that had lost their vision," he told 

Despite three trips to Iran to seek medical help, the young boy became 
completely blind.

"The worst memory of my life is the day I heard the doctor telling my 
father that my vision could not be restored," he recalled.

But ten years on, Yazdan Parast has overcome blindness to become a success.

A well-known journalist in a country where there is little provision for 
the disabled, he now heads the news section of Radio Nehad in the 
northern city
of Mazar-e Sharif.

He reads the news by heart and presents a number of shows. He also 
represents the journalists of northern Afghanistan at national 
conferences, and participated
in the peace “jirga” or assembly last month as a representative of 
disabled people.

"If I appointed a sighted person instead of Yazdan Parast as head of 
news at Radio Nehad, I would not feel so at ease,” said Najibollah 
Paikan, editor-in-chief
and owner of Radio Nehad. “I feel calm now because Yazdan Parast is here."

Paikan added that not only was Yazdan Parast a good journalist, 
presenter and manager, he was also exceptionally well-informed about 
politics and history.

Yazdan Parast’s career chances were turned around in 1999, when he heard 
on the radio that the International Organisation for Migration was 
assisting blind
people in Mazar-e Sharif.

“I paid my first visit and started learning Braille script. Finding the 
institution was the start of the solution to the problems in my life," 
he said.

After four months studying Braille, he went back to school, and is still 
studying there part-time. Once he graduates, he wants to go on to study law.

Yazdan Parast still faces a daily struggle against prejudice among the 
general public. He says people call him names when he walks around the city.

"I ask those who say people like me are blind to cover their eyes one 
day and then walk through the city. Then they will realise what this is 
about," he

The abusive treatment he received was one of his main motivations for 
becoming a journalist.

"I wanted to bring my voice, which only my family had heard so far, to 
the government, the people and society to make them aware of the pain 
that disabled
people feel," he said.

When it comes to looking for a wife, Yazdan Parast accepts that his 
choice cannot be based on looks.

"I cannot see beauties anymore. The only thing I want is for my wife to 
understand me, to be literate and to have good morals," he said.

His father Sayed Mahmud Shah, a pharmacist at a Mazar-e Sharif hospital, 
said that when his son lost his sight, he feared he faced a bleak future 
like other
blind people in Afghanistan.

"I thought my son would be a burden on his family, but today, the family 
is a burden for him, because he helps me with the household expenses,” 
he said.
“He’s the pride of our family and our relatives. I never think of my son 
as di

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