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Helen Keller: A woman of courage and faith


Helen Keller

Helen Keller lost her hearing and vision at the age of 19 months due to an illness. Against overwhelming odds and with a great deal of persistence, she grew into a highly intelligent and sensitive woman who wrote, spoke, and labored incessantly for the betterment of others. So powerful a symbol of triumph over adversity did she become that she has a definite place in the history of our time and of times to come.

As Helen Keller grew from infancy into childhood she was wild and unruly, and had little real understanding of the world around her.

Helen Keller

Helen Keller's new life began on a March day in 1887. On that day, which Miss Keller was always to call "The most important day I can remember in my life," Anne Mansfield Sullivan came to Tuscumbia to be her teacher. Miss Sullivan, a 20-year-old graduate of the Perkins School for the Blind, who regained useful sight through a series of operations, had come to the Kellers through the sympathetic interest of Alexander Graham Bell. From that fateful day, the two—teacher and pupil—were inseparable until the death of the former in 1936.

How Miss Sullivan turned the uncontrolled child into a responsible human being and succeeded in awakening and stimulating her marvelous mind is familiar to millions, most notably through William Gibson's play and film, The Miracle Worker .

Even when she was a little girl, Helen Keller said, "Someday I shall go to college." And go to college she did. In 1898 she entered the Cambridge School for Young Ladies to prepare for Radcliffe College. She entered Radcliffe in the fall of 1900 and received her Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude in 1904. Throughout these years and until her own death in 1936, Anne Sullivan was always by Helen's side, laboriously spelling book after book and lecture after lecture, into her pupil's hand she learned to read French, German, Greek, and Latin in Braille.

Helen Keller

While still a student at Radcliffe , Helen Keller began a writing career that was to continue on and off for 50 years. In addition, she was a frequent contributor to magazines and newspapers, writing most frequently on blindness, deafness, socialism, social issues, and women's rights . She used a braille typewriter to prepare her manuscripts and then copied them on a regular typewriter.

As broad and wide ranging as her interests were, Helen Keller never lost sight of the needs of other blind and deaf-blind individuals. From her youth, she was always willing to help them by appearing before legislatures, giving lectures, writing articles, and above all, by her own example of what a severely disabled person could accomplish .

Wherever she traveled, she brought encouragement to millions of blind people, and many of the efforts to improve conditions among blind people.

Despite her retirement from public life, Helen Keller was not forgotten. In 1964 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom , the highest honor an American civilian can receive. In 1965, she was one of 20 elected to the Women's Hall of Fame at the New York World's Fair.

In his eulogy, Senator Lister Hill of Alabama expressed the feelings of the whole world when he said of Helen Keller, "She will live on, one of the few, the immortal names not born to die. Her spirit will endure as long as man can read and stories can be told of the woman who showed the world there are no boundaries to courage and faith."

Helen Keller

The Gilopez Kabayao Foundation, Inc. is presenting the play THE MIRACLE WORKER in its entirety at CAP Auditorium, Iloilo City come August 18, 19 and 20, 2005 with matinee at 2:30 PM and gala at 7:30 PM.

This is a rare opportunity to see the dramatization of the miracle in the life of Helen Keller with the passion and determination on the part of the teacher, Anne Sullivan to make Helen see the world through language and its magic.

Tickets available at THE ATRIUM (Customer Service) and BLUE JAYS CAFÉ (Smallville). For inquiries or reservation, call 337 0204 or text 0927 931 3893.