November 07, 2005.
Daily Star, Lebanon.
BEIRUT: When you see her moving freely in the newsroom, a broad smile on her face, calmly reaching her desk and sitting in front of her computer, you'd never guess that she's a bit different than the rest of us. Yet she is. Working for a year now as a journalist at the Beirut-based An-Nahar newspaper, Nicole Tohme is 95 percent blind. "It's all about stubbornness, you see," she said, sipping her coffee. "I was stubborn enough to make it through high school, and stubborn enough to be my class's valedictorian and be granted a scholarship from Notre Dame University where I earned a BA and an MA in journalism," she said.
"If you're stubborn enough, there's always a way of realizing your dreams," she said. "People say where there's a will, there's a way. I say where there is stubbornness, there's a way.
"Had I relied only on my will, I would've never gotten here at all. This society is still way behind when it comes to allowing people like me to realize their dreams, or even just to listening to them."
Tohme, 28, was born with glaucoma, a condition where the optic nerve is damaged.
Despite many attempts to save her eyesight, Tohme went almost completely blind at the age of 10. She currently has one synthetic eye and the other is only 10 percent functional.
"At first, I used to go to a regular school, with all other kids," she said, "but when my eyes died away, I was gently 'kicked out' i.e. my parents were 'advised' to place me in a private school for mentally retarded children."
Despite her age, Tohme said she had the courage - and stubbornness - to say "no" and continued to attend - despite all the difficulties - a regular school.
"My parents and friends helped me a lot," she said, "my classmates used to tape their notes for me."
As a reporter at An-Nahar, Tohme has special software on her computer that allows her to listen to an audible version of whatever she's typing or reading on the Internet.
"I don't drive of course," she said, "so most of my interviews are done over the phone. Sometimes the people I interview become annoyed when I say I cannot go to meet them. But when I explain my case, they just suddenly go quiet, and then become very docile. It makes me laugh sometimes."
Source URL: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=20&article_id=19859.
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