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Russian writer lends helping hand to the blind

Update: December, 23/2013 - 08:29
Heart of gold: Mikhail Samarsky,17, is admired for his compassion and known for his non-fiction books. The teenager is expected to inspire Vietnamese youths with his stories about helping the visually impaired when he visits HCM City this month. — Photo courtesy of First News Book Company.

HCM CITY (VNS)— Mikhail Samarsky is something of a wunderkind. Now 17, he began writing when he was only 12 years old, beginning with two books on the visually impaired that have been translated into Vietnamese.

The impetus for his writing career sprung from a meeting with a teenager he met one day in a park.

"Our eyes are dead, but our hearts are alive," the young boy told Samarsky, now a student at the University of Moscow.

For three days, Samarsky covered his eyes in hopes of understanding the feelings and challenges that visually impaired people face.

During that short time, Samarsky realised how lucky he was to be able to see his mother's face and his surroundings.

He became restless and wanted to take off the cloth, but resisted.

When he finally uncovered his eyes, the first thing he saw was a beautiful rainbow.

At that moment, Samarsky promised himself that he would do everything he could to help the visually impaired.

Just one year after meeting the teenager in the park, he completed his nonfiction book called A Rainbow for a Friend.

By the age of 17, he had published four books, including The Formula for Kindness, which is also about the visually impaired. The four books have sold 300,000 copies. Rainbow for a Friend has been translated into eight languages, and was recently published in Vietnamese.

Besides writing, Samarsky also founded the Living Hearts fund for the blind when he was 15 years old.

His writing pedigree is strong, as his father is a successful playwright, and his mother is an author of popular detective novels.

Having entered Moscow State University this fall, Samarsky is taking his holiday break to be in Viet Nam from December 26 to January 4 to speak to young people and donate computers that have Braille displays.

In Russia, the teenager was able to persuade then-President D A Medvedev to provide this kind of computer to children for use in their studies.

The president successfully amended legislation that allows children to keep the computers after graduation.

With his own savings, Samarsky has purchased six computers with a Braille display to give to Vietnamese friends during his trip.

While here, the teenager will sign over the copyright to his audiobooks to Huong Duong Audiobook Library. Apart from his other books, Samarsky has also issued Braille-font books.

According to Nguyen Van Phuoc, director of Tri Viet Book Company, which arranged Samarsky's visit to Viet Nam, a successful Vietnamese businessman who is blind and works in the US will donate Braille-display computers for 10 talented visually impaired people.

Together with poet Tran Dang Khoa, who began writing poems when he was eight years old, the Vietnamese entrepreneur will appear at the HCM City Youth Cultural House on January 2 with Samarsky.

"Mikhail, who is a special talent, also has a warm heart. He really cares about the visually impaired," Khoa said. —VNS

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