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Retiree helps visually impaired broaden their horizons

By Tan Yingzi in Chongqing | China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-13 08:04
Cai Meiqi (front) guides her visually impaired friends to visit a scenic area on the outskirts of Chongqing. Photo Provided To China Daily

Partially blind former doctor acts as the 'eyes' of her friends on travel adventures

A retired doctor in Chongqing is helping visually impaired friends "see" the world by volunteering as a travel guide.

Cai Meiqi, 66, who was born partially blind and has very weak vision in her left eye, has led tours around China and to neighboring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Japan in the past decade.

Thanks to such adventures, she has helped the sightless experience things for the first time in their lives, such as taking a plane journey, walking on sandy beaches, running through grassy fields and standing atop mountains.

Cai started her post-retirement career in 2007 after meeting several visually impaired individuals during a massage training program. She showed her managerial abilities during class activities and gained the trust of the students.

"They asked me to lead them to explore the outside world. They said that their lives are not just about survival," said Cai, who practiced traditional Chinese medicine.

China has the largest population of visually impaired people in the world, an estimated 8 million, according to the World Health Organization.

Touched by the courage and passion of others, she began to contact travel agencies. But none of them would make special accommodations for visually impaired clients at that time. She decided to organize trips herself.

"Let me be your eyes, and follow me to 'see' the world," she told them.

Their first trip was a day tour for about 40 people to the botanical garden at Chongqing's Nanshan Mountain. Cai guided them around the garden, told them what she saw and let them touch and smell cherry blossoms and other flowers.

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