Sun. Feb 16th, 2020

The powerful of Davos pay a visit to the world of the blind



Rocío, Ale and Jesús are part of a group of eight blind Mexicans who were at the Davos Forum and accompanied for almost a hundred participants in an experience of sensory disturbance, who lived through a dinner in the most complete Darkness on top of a mountain.

“When last year they told me that I would travel to Switzerland I couldn’t believe it and I tried to live it intensely as if I would never come back, but here I am again,” says Alejandra Rivera, who for the second year was one of the “guides” in dinners organized by the “Eyes that Feel” Foundation at the invitation of the World Economic Forum.

The places are limited and the success they had last year caused that in the edition of the Forum that has just concluded the sites available for the three evenings were filled minutes after the inscription was opened.

When you arrive you don’t know what to expect, most people think that they will eat more in the dark than in total darkness, they have no idea what they will eat, nor that those who will serve them and help in an environment where the most predominant sense in life Daily is canceled are blind people.

Among the attendees there are senior executives, scientists, academics, young people who are part of the community of leaders of the Forum and some journalist who has luckily got a place, since this experience is reserved for those invited to the Davos Forum.

The adventure begins even before dinner, since it takes place in the restaurant of a ski resort and you have to take a cable car that opens at night especially for the occasion, after which diners are received with hot drinks for Promote dialogue and start breaking down barriers.

In a nearby room are his “guides”, who always wait with some anxiety for the entry of such special customers.

“At first there is always nervousness, but once we start interacting everything becomes a joy of sharing with people from different parts of the world. The language issue is a challenge, but it is overcome when a totally human connection is achieved,” José Pacheco explains to Efe.

José is the director of “Ojos que Sienten” and the first student of the sensory photography workshops for people with visual disabilities that Gina Badenoch began teaching in Mexico in 2006, an idea that contributed so much to the life of that group that he called the attention of the World Economic Forum, in Switzerland, which in 2012 designated the young Mexican as one of its young leaders in the world.

Gina explains that “people who do not see do perceive. With smell, touch, taste and hearing they can perceive a space, feel an emotion and have thoughts they want to project. The idea was to see how the camera could be true form your eyes. “

“When we started, everyone thought we were crazy. They asked us what it was like to teach photography to blind people, it was a disruptive idea at a time when a narrative of welfare and victimization dominated, and we came to offer an opportunity for equality, to show strength and potential, “he adds.

The Davos Forum thus opened its doors to Gina, José and his team, who begin their work at the sensory dinners, leading diners to their tables who enter from the shoulders to the dark room, where they accommodate them and try to enter Confidence to start your first course, which is already served.

Eating literally blindly is totally disconcerting. First you try with a fork and knife, but it seems impossible and as nobody sees anything you end up eating with your fingers, as then almost everyone confess in the middle of laughter.

In the dark, appearance and posture lose all importance. When the time comes for the main course, laughter and conversations are heard everywhere … a cup spills.

In the dark it is easier to break barriers, even physical ones. It becomes almost essential to find and find the hand of the table partner to pass his plate or bread basket, which one has found so much delicately groping on the table to avoid throwing something.

It is surprising that almost an hour and a half later, it seems that no one is bothered not to see others or the place where they are, until, after dessert, a bell rings and faint paper lamps appear floating that return us visual perception .

“The Davos Forum is making contacts, but there are some businessmen who make such an impression that one does not even dare to approach them, while here everyone mixes, communication flows and conversations are more honest,” says one of participants.

About the reactions, Rocío, one of the “guides” and blind from birth, says that they are diverse: “Each culture has a different way of reacting to a situation, there are people who are cold and only say ‘thank you’, others hug you and others cry. “

“People have taken it in a very good way and everyone here in Davos has been very kind to us,” says Jesus Rodriguez, blind since the age of seven.

The group does not know if the Forum will decide to propose again this year to its participants this exceptional experience, parallel to the business agenda that usually concentrates their attention and from which only some manage to disconnect at least for a while.

Isabel Saco

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