Muhammad Zahier bin Samad was born with an eye condition that caused him to suffer from high myopia and forced him to wear high power glasses. As a schoolboy, he always had to sit in the front row in order to see what was written on the blackboard.
He lost his sight suddenly in 2005 due to retina detachment when he was in his second year at the Millennia Institute. It was a devastating blow to him. Among other fears, he was afraid that he might not be able to continue his studies.
However, the Institute’s principal persuaded him to stay on. He moved Zahier from the science to the arts stream so that he could pursue a course in business studies.
Zahier was referred by his eye specialist to the Association for rehabilitation. Apart from O&M training, he learnt Braille. Although he completed the course, he found reading Braille slow-going and his fingers were not sensitive enough to feel the dots well.
He then learnt to use the computer and related speech software. This enabled him to read his study notes and other material in the electronic format. With this, he was able to email his assignments to his lecturers.
Zahier and his mother also joined a support group where other clients and their families come together to share experiences as well as solutions related to vision loss. These sessions involved visiting one another’s home and meeting family members. Through such interaction, clients were able to encourage others who suffer the same predicament of vision loss. These sessions helped Zahier overcome his depression.
Twenty-nine-old Zahier says that he sometimes feels lost and sad that he is no longer able to do the things he used to do such as watching television, playing computer games and break dancing. His parents, fortunately, are very supportive and are helping him to cope with his blindness.
He has learnt that being blind helps him to appreciate simple things like food. He used to eat for the sake of eating. Now he enjoys his food in a different light. “Food now seems to taste better and smell better. Maybe my sense of taste and smell has become more acute”, he added.
Zahier plays the guitar. In his spare time, he would write the lyrics and compose his own songs. “Music brings healing to the soul”, he said. He would like to see his compositions well received and hopes that one day someone would sing his songs. He was chosen to perform at the President’s Star Charity 2011 television show aired on 31 July 2011.