Harry Potter in Braille

I remember started my first Harry Potter book when I was in 3rd grade, around 2001. I was exposed to the Harry Potter world thanks to my cousin who brought me along to watch the 1st Harry Potter movie at Regent cinema (near Alun-Alun Bandung, now closed). I went there with my cousin who was in high school, middle school, and the same year as me. I watched the second movie from my cousin’s VCD. I bought the 3rd volume, “Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban”, at Gramedia Metropolitan Mall Bekasi with money from my piggy bank. I paid Rp 36.000 with a bunch of taped coins, and several Rp 1000 bills, and gladly brought home my new book. The 8 years old me couldn’t fully grasped the whole story at the first read which ended when I was in 4th grade. For the 4th and 5th volume I borrowed from my fellow HP fan in elementary, who had an impressive book and magazine collection. I found the 5th volume, with 1200 pages, very excessive to read so I dropped it halfway. Even though I separated with my friend as I entered middle school, I kept updating myself to the new edition from my cousin who lived in Bandung. In high school I met another avid fan of HP and a niiicee library near my school. I watched the last movie with the same cousin I went to the first movie with, with the oldest was already 26 then. It’s fascinating to have something that grows along with you.

That being said, we have unlimited access to books, movies, etc. Even if you don’t have money to buy a new release, you can always borrow from your friends or the nearest library or simply hang around a book store and read the already opened book. If you don’t like reading because it’s too much a hassle, think about the people with a visual impairment: It’s way tooo much a hassle for them. They have to read from a book printed in Braille, with a thicker paper and of course a bigger font, hence a much bulky book. The first HP book in Indonesian may be only 200-300 pages, but in Braille you get 4 volumes with each book twice as big as a 14" laptop and as thick as photocopied Organic Chemistry book. If there isn’t any Braille version, they can only depend on a reader: a person who read book for them.

Yesterday I got a precious experience from a volunteer projects. We got to visit a special school in Pajajaran street and met many inspiring people. There was Kak Nur who was already an alumnus and now a student from UNINUS. She has already worked as a Bahasa teacher for 3 years in Kopo and she’s still working on her thesis. Since her parents’ death, she’s been living alone and renting a room around Pajajaran (can you imagine her taking a public transportation from Pajajaran to Kopo? o_o). If a pessimist write her story, it would become “A 2009 Batch Student Still Hasn’t Completed Her Study Yet”, “An Orphan Left With No Family in A Foreign City”, or “3 Years of Working But Still an Honorary Teacher”. But she’s not a pessimist and so are the other students. They choose to become an aspiring writer, poet, judo athlete, chess athlete, IT expert, musician, and so on.

This project is intended not only to help them read but also to boost their interest in reading and help them establish a career in writing. One of the students read his poem in front of class and it was touching. Nevertheless, their writing needs improvement here and there yet their interest in reading is still lacking. Despite being a Bahasa teacher, Kak Nur didn’t really like reading, partly because lack of access to audiobook and the Braille version. The HP Indonesian version only translated to Braille version for the 1st and 2nd volume. A talking software can narrate a book with a txt format but of course it lacks intonation and other human touch. Ah… it’s sad to know that there are people who like to read but don’t have the access to it, meanwhile there are people who are surrounded by infinite access to books yet still hesitate to read. Do you still want to be THAT kind of people?

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