By Jeanne Tan (17A01B), Nerissa Loe (17A13A) and Serafina Siow (17A13A)
Pictures by Raffles Interact Club
A mere 3 hours of near darkness had us fumbling around despite our caution. But for the visually impaired, clear sight is not something that they can take for granted. This is something that the Dine in the Dark (DITD) event raised over the weekend, inspiring thought-provoking reflections and utmost admiration for the visually impaired in our society.
Raffles Interact partnered with The Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) to bring this event to RI. Early attendees were ushered up to a small gallery on the second floor. Exhibits displayed personal testimonies, stories and artwork from SAVH to give diners their first insight into the lives of the visually impaired.
Before the main event, diners were led to a short interactive activity called DECODE, where they were tasked with sorting out cardboard letters and forming words from them in the dark. Being the first experience in total darkness for most, the activity instigated confusion and surprise from many of the participants. It served its purpose of introducing the main aim of the event by giving a taste of what the visually impaired go through on a daily basis.
Diners were guided group-by-group into the Albert Hong Hall. Maneuvering awkwardly around the tables , diners’ first foray into the lives of the blind started with predictable clumsiness. The darkness seemed to make every noise seem closer, and the hall was buzzing with conversation and laughter from every table. Every time someone attempted to use their phone as a flashlight, jeers erupted from all corners of the room until the lights were turned off.
Before the dinner began, Caitlin O’Hara (16S03A) performed two poems titled Red and What We See, written by the J1 Writers’ Guild. The two poems made gorgeous use of imagery to paint the sensations and experience of blindness to the audience. The immediacy of the language coupled and the blindness experienced by the audience made the poems especially poignant.
Between courses, Miss Christina, a beneficiary from SAVH, took the stage to provide renditions of a few songs. While she stumbled over a few lyrics, she gave a heartfelt performance, and was cheered on by the enthusiastic audience. On the entertainment side, Triumviratus played ‘Anna Sun’, ‘What a Wonderful World’ and ‘Valerie.
Miss Christina then took the stage again, giving a sharing on her experience as a visually handicapped person. She gave insight about the wonders of technology and their applications to the lives of the disabled, by talking about her own experience of using the SMRT bus app to work around her blindness when taking public transport.
Mr Leow, another beneficiary, shared his tale of how he lost his vision while rescuing someone, and the difficulties he faced as he slowly lost his vision, and subsequently suffered other losses in his life. Despite this, he fought on, and his message was optimistic and inspiring, ending with him declaring that, given the chance to go back, he would still have chosen to lose his sight, because he managed to save someone else. Mr Leow’s selflessness and strength of will was inspirational, and the story of his resilience brightened the room.
The focus of this year’s DITD was on the importance of reflection and spreading empathy. The team hoped that it had allowed diners to better understand the experiences of the blind in carrying out daily tasks, and knowing, in the words of I/C Vanessa Chia (16A13A) that “deep down, they are like you and me, complete with dreams and aspirations”.
While it may seem like everything ran perfectly, Vanessa revealed that “there were many times that [she] wanted to throw in the towel because of all the hurdles we had to get past”. Brandon Cheang (16S03D) echoed this sentiment too, adding that the Interactors were “down from morning to night over the past 3 days” to set up the event and that “Year 5 interactors were trained on various occasions starting from several weeks ago, to ensure close to flawless execution.”
Raffles Press congratulates the Interactors for a job well done. As diners, our reporters can safely say that the event was pulled off well. With the skills learned by both the Interactors and diners, this annual event has created a wonderful experience in the life of the blind, and made strides toward helping the visually handicapped in our society.
Dine In The Dark 2016 Organising Committee
Overall I/C: Vanessa Chia (16A13A)
Logistics: Brandon Cheang (16S03D)
Publicity & Decor: Christal Tang (16S03L)
Programmes: Dayna Joy Siat Yen (16S03O)
Programmes: Ernest Tay Zhi Yu (16S06K)
Logistics: Jerry Yang Jie Rui (16S06R)