The dry winter air caused my nose to bleed. Although it is not acute, the discomfort prompted me to start wearing masks. Each time I exhale, the warm breath, escaping from the gap between the nose and the mask, fogged up my glasses. Even so, the mask protected the chilling wind from my face. I may use nose drops if the problem persists.
We went on our first home visit to a person with disabilities practising Independent Living. Ms. Kato has cerebral palsy and communication impairment. She had lived in an institution for twenty years. It was only recently, January 10 to be exact, that she began living independently. Japan has a system of grading the severity of an impairment in order to provide the aid required. Ms. Kato is categorised at 1, the most severe degree of impairment. She has been preparing for independent living for three years and has now succeeded in realising that ambition. Her Personal Assistants (PAs) work on three shifts 24 hours a day assisting her. We left her house, awed by her fortitude in self-determination.
Our next destination was the Centre for Independent Living Hino (CIL Hino). Ms. Hiroko Akiyama was waiting to have lunch with us. We boarded a train at the Keio Seiseki-sakuragaoka Station to Takahatafudo where the CIL Hino is located. I had pasta salad, burdock and pumpkin tempura and fruit juice. It was good to be eating together with the staff of Hino CIL. Although language was a barrier, their friendliness and graciousness more than warmed our hearts on this cold day.
Ms. Kaoru Ito gave us a lecture on Support for the Empowerment of PWD. She is blind. We spent two hours with her, learning about the various tools used to empower people with disabilities. The next session, titled Overview of IL Centre – History of CIL Hino, was presented by Mr. Fuji and Ms. Akiyama. They shared with us how the CIL Hino began and the types of services they provide.
We had a group photo taken after the lecture. When we got out from the Centre, it was already dark although it was only 6.00 pm. It was cold. My hands, as usual, were freezing. It would have been difficult to hold the camera, let alone press the shutter button with gloves on. I went looking for a public phone to call Wuan but none was in sight. Those available at the train stations only accepted phone cards. I will try to look for a phone at Hachioji tomorrow.