After a successful Camino Walking Blind in 2015, Foundation Anders Bekeken organized another project; again we have walked to Santiago de Compostela with people with a visual handicap, starting in Ponferrada.
Walkers: Marjolein Strang van Hees, Agnes Gorter, Willemijn Dekker, Henrike Voortman and Milad Beyki.
Buddies: Henk Franke, Jantina de Vries, Anja Creemers and Anja van Langen.
Organisation: Séverine Kas, Sofie Mangnus and Gert-Jan de Hoon.
Marjolein Strang van Hees has Usher Syndrom. A tunnel vision of about 5 degrees and very blurry vision. "I am practically blind , I can only see a little with ideal light and in a short distance."
Her motto: "Experience freely."
"I wonder how I will experience the surroundings on this journey. As I can't see hardly anything. How will I use my other senses while walking? How will this be?"
Agnes Gorter has Usher Syndrom . "From 1986 onwards I realised that I was bumping in to everything and I didn't recognise people on the street anymore."
Her motto: "Being proud to walk the Camino with Usher."
"It means a lot to me, to walk this camino with a group of people I don't know. I hope it will give me more confidence, because with Usher I have to let go of things because of seeing less and less."
Willemijn Dekker has glaucoma since birth. "Sight in my left eye is about 5% in a small tunnel, right I can only see shades of dark and light. Standing still, I see some details within a meter distance, but the moment I start moving (walking, running, skiing) I only see contours and the colours falling into my tunnel."
Her motto: "I sense I 'need' this pilgrimage to make a next step into my development, to 'be' in a new phase of visual impairment."
"I push myself to get the best out of me continually and not having my handicap decide who I am. Also I realise my sight is getting worse and if I want to fulfill all my wishes I 'need support to do so'. And to realise that I don't have to do everything myself to be the director of my life. In this project it comes together, my wish to make a pilgrimage and practicing 'being with my impairment', walking to Santiago together with others who are visually impaired."
Henk Franke is buddy.
"Being a buddy makes me think of the army. A buddy means everything for you. You share all and you trust each other blindly. You are always there for each other and you give (and receive) sometimes (un)desirable advice. "
His motto: “A beautiful initiative!”
Anja Creemers is buddy.
Her motto: "Time for reflection."
"I hope this journey will bring me something personal also. I don't have a specific question or goal, but the camino can be a beautiful addition to a year I have been looking for my balance and to live my life for what is important to me. To live more in the present and to enjoy life more. I am very much looking forward to two weeks of walking and to let go of daily life and everything we just have to do."
Jantina de Vries is buddy.
Her motto: "I can imagine how special it will be to experience and to assist in the process of pushing boundaries and walking with blind faith."
"Being underway with just what you need makes life very clear and it is about all the things that really matter. I am very curious to experience being underway for a longer period. I am curious about the symbolism of this pilgrimage and what it will do to me. What will I take with me? What will I leave consciously at home, and what will I find out underway about the things I brought but don't need?"
Henrike Voortman is visually impaired since birth. "I see with a tunnel vision of some degrees, for about 10 to 15%. Next to this I am night-blind."
Her motto: “I am open to all that comes on my path."
"I hope with this pilgrimage to find more peace of mind (you can interpret this in different ways). I am looking forward to new experiences, new contacts and to the challenges ahead of me. I also think this camino will give me new inspiration. In an unfamiliar environment, with unknown people and new faces around me, this will be a perfect opportunity."
Anja van Langen is buddy.
Her motto: "When your legs are tired, walk with your heart."
"To walk together, with the idea we all need a special buddy in our life every now and then. To share and experience beautiful moments. We collect them with our mind ánd with our heart. That will be the camino for me."
Milad Beyki has retinitus pigmentosa. "I am born with it and it got activated when I was 16. I see around 20%."
Milad is in the Netherlands since 6 years and his country of origin is Iran.
"The camino will be something new in my life, something that I never had a chance of experiencing. I think by my presence I can enhance the quality of the event and try to add to the joy of the group . I am hoping that I will be able to expand my network and try to learn from the beautiful people that are also taking part in this journey.
I hope in this journey that I will be able to find more inner peace in myself and try to understand its spirit (of the camino). Looking at and working with other people with disability improves my patience."
Sofie Mangnus was buddy in 2015. This year she joined the Foundation Anders Bekeken and she also is part of the organisation of CAB2016.
Her motivation to walk the camino: "Just having to walk, experience and share what is at that moment. It gives time to reflect and to ask yourself who you are and who you want to be."
Sofie went back in the spring of 2016 to walk part of the camino with her mother.
Séverine Kas has a visual and auditory handicap (Usher syndrome). In 2015 she experienced the power of the Camino deeply. This year she will join us as a visually impaired expert, she is part of the organisation of CAB2016 and chairman of the Foundation Anders Bekeken.
"Walking the camino has taught me that I can take on challenges in life. I also found out it is more fun to do things together, not being able to have expeditions alone anymore. My renewed faith makes Usher less prominent, or even more fitting with me, so I can look at myself and others with a smile. I am feeling satisfied with all the experiences and adventures I am having in my life."
Mention the Camino and a smile appears on the face of Séverine.
Gert-Jan de Hoon is one of the initiators of Camino Walking Blind in 2015 and co-founder of Foundation Anders Bekeken. "This pilgrimage last year was a very special experience to be part of. I guess we already knew back then that we would do it again."
His motto: "When it rains you get wet, when the sun shines you get hot and in the evening your feet feel tired of walking. This is the simple life of a pilgrim."
Walking his first time as a pilgrim was in 2005. And the camino kept calling him back ever since. He returned in 2007 and in winter 2008 to walk from St. Jean-Pied-de-Port. About these experiences he wrote the book A pilgrimage to Santiago. He has also walked the camino Portugués several times from Porto and the camino primitivo from Oviedo.
"Being a buddy, I find it very special to create opportunities for others to live their dreams and grow as a person."