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Injury scare inspires Samuels to help blind

Published:Thursday | January 31, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica and West Indies cricketer Marlon Samuels (right) holds five-year-old Bryan Clarke, who is totally blind, at the Salvation Army School for the Blind, to which he made a donation yesterday. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

The loss of sight in his right eye for over two weeks earlier this month has prompted West Indies and Jamaican batting star, Marlon Samuels, to come to the aid of students at the Salvation Army School for the Blind.

"Before the accident my foundation was being set up towards helping kids," Samuels said. "The foundation is not fully up, but I wanted to address the situation right away by just starting to help with the blind as well."

Samuels yesterday handed over a cheque valued at $50,000 to acting principal, Esmie Taylor, to fund five students to sit five CXC subjects each.

The 31-year-old all-rounder got a brush with what most of the students have endured all their lives, when he was struck by a bouncer from Lasith Malinga on January 6 in the Australian Big Bash T20 League cricket match between the Melbourne Renegades and Melbourne Stars.

"Me sitting in a room where if I closed my left eye I couldn't see out of my right eye, it was total darkness," Samuels recounted. "If I felt like that for two weeks, imagine how they (the blind students) feel to be living like this for their entire life. I want to give them the opportunity to further their education, so I will continue to pay for CXCs and stuff like that."


Taylor welcomed the pleasant surprise.

"I am extremely pleased because we were not expecting it; I just suddenly got a call saying Marlon Samuels would like to make a donation to us," Taylor shared. "I assisted by suggesting certain things and they said 'no, we are not going that big, it is just a start', and then we came down to this. So I am very elated, because time and time again our students have difficulty paying their CXC fees."

Following the injury in Australia, Samuels spent over two weeks in a hotel room, as he was ordered not to move to avoid permanent damage to his eye. The accident has, however, acted as a wake-up call and has resulted in Samuels making a commitment to support the school, which includes the purchasing of well-needed Braille machines, which are used by the blind for writing.

"I will definitely get sponsors on board, so I can gain more and earn more, so I can give back more to them," Samuels expressed. "We got some information about the (Braille) machines, but I wanted to do something right away and the machine has to come from abroad. But I am going to get quite a few for them as well to help them."

The institution normally imports Braille machines from Perkins School for the Blind to the tune of US$850 each. They currently have approximately 25 functioning Braille machines serving 98 students.

"We have very few machines and most of the young ones are totally blind, and we have visually impaired children that can catch a glimpse and they are forced to use book and pencil," Taylor highlighted. "This should not be, because once they come to us they should be doing Braille, but we do not have enough of the machines."