UP CLOSE … with Brigitte Lablache, long-time telephone operator

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UP CLOSE … with Brigitte Lablache, long-time telephone operator

Post  Sirop14 on Tue Aug 30, 2016 8:14 pm

UP CLOSE … with Brigitte Lablache, long-time telephone operator

30-August-2016
‘Better to be blind and intelligent than to have sight and be stupid and ignorant’

She can only be described as an extraordinary young lady, a tower of strength, courage and The ever smiling Brigitte Lablachelaughter, someone who loves living life to the fullest and who finds great joy in helping others. She is no other than Brigitte Lablache, a young lady who was born with little sight but gradually lost it completely as she grew older as a result of a condition known as Retinitis Pigmentosa.
May people will still recall the time Brigitte, her sister Cecile and brother Hans together with the likes of Thomas Knowles and Robert Chetty were takingthelocal music scene by storm in the late 70s and 80s with their hits in the musical band Blind Faith.
Hans, Cecile and Brigitte – three of the seven children of the Lablache family – were born with this eye condition for which there is no known cure up to now.
Earlier this year Brigitte, who had been a civil servant for 27 years working as a telephone operator previously with the Ministry of Employment then with the Department of Culture, decided to leave the job she loved to move on to do something she had always dreamed of doing which is giving advice to and supporting other people using her own life experiences as a blind person.
But how is she getting along with her new project? Meeting her at her family home at Pointe Conan last week Brigitte was excited and eager to talk about the things which keep her busy and occupied day in and day out.
It was in February that Brigitte left her job.
“I loved the job I had been doing for so long but I wanted to do something new in my life, something I had been thinking about for a long time and I felt I was ready and it was the right time to go,” Brigitte said as she greeted and welcomed me into her house.
“I believe things always happen for a reason and for a long time I have been pondering and weighing the decision but it was not the right time then,” she told me.
“I always wanted to do something for the community, to devote myself to helping the more vulnerable and bring joy to their lives by talking to them, giving them support and advice on different issues in their lives but I could not do so because I was fully committed to my job but now I have time,” said Brigitte who, in spite of her own disability, refuses to let that be a barrier.
Brigitte said she will always cherish the wonderful moments at work and all the people she had met and interacted with.
She recalls the years at work when she memorised more than 150 phone numbers and even passed on some of her telephone operation skills to some of her work colleagues.
Brigitte is helping a lot of people individually by talking to them through the phone, text messages and emails and Facebook. But she also shares her experiences, skills on different values by talking to groups of people in organisations when she receives any requests.
So far other than individuals, she has talked to a group of nurses, gave a presentation during a ceremony organised recently by the Seychelles National Youth Council to launch the value for the month of August, which is ‘Understanding’.
“I believe there has always been something in me like a sort of inner calling urging me to put myself fully to the service of others,” she said.
“You cannot imagine how happy and fulfilled I feel after I have succeeded in helping someone solve a problem, boost a person’s moral through some words of encouragement and some advice,” she pointed out.
“Anyone who feels in need of some form of support or advice on any issue which they feel is bothering them or they just want someone to listen to them, they can always reach me on 2572588,” said Brigitte.
Since featuring in the Bonzour Sesel morning show recently, the number of people who have called her for advice on anything in their lives has increased considerably. Brigitte also interacts with other blind people from abroad. She regrets that blind people locally do not have an association through which they could come together.
“Blind people as well as parents who have children who are blind and are finding it difficult to cope can also get in touch with me so that we can talk,” said Brigitte.
“The people I talk to like it when I share their problems. It really makes me happy when I can bring some happiness to others. I also send general messages on Facebook but I chat one to one with them privately through Messenger,” she added.
All that she shares with others are her own life experiences. Now aged 48 soon to be 49, Brigitte has been blind all her life but the important thing is she has adapted very well to her predicament and she considered herself an independent person in regard to choices she makes in her life. She can move freely in and out of the house, does her house chores and many other things but she admitted that her condition poses certain limitations thus the need for other people’s understanding and support.
She is thankful to government for the support of a carer who comes everyday to help Hans and herself with anything they cannot do. Marie-Anne Dupres, a resident of the district, not only works for them helping them around the house but has developed a close bond of friendship with Brigitte and her brother as well.
She has been working for them for over a year now.

http://www.nation.sc/article.html?id=250822

Sirop14

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