After 35 years, Andreas Heinecke, founder of Dialogue in the Dark, is retiring.
For this reason, many of his friends and collaborators, as I shared in a previous entry, wrote him letters and memoirs.
So I did. And I share with you my letter entitled “dignity.”
Dear Andreas :
I can sum up 16 years of knowing you with one word: dignity.
When I was 9 years old, after my leukemia, my parents had this brief but powerful conversation with me: "We are not forever, we are going to die; and you, being blind, will automatically have doors closed to you. You have to be equal to or better than someone sighted. You have to work harder.”
From that moment on, the only ideal in my life was to have the same opportunities as someone sighted. It is possible to get ahead in life, I had seen it with my parents, who from living in a poverty-stricken rural mining area, had moved to the big city and had managed to raise a middle-class family.
Things seemed to be going well; I attended regular schools, but going through high school was socially exclusive and it was even worse in college. I think it was a matter of prejudice. My social contact with others was increasingly difficult. To the point that I felt tremendously lonely during college.
In 2006, when I was about to graduate as a translator, my job hope was to stay hidden behind a computer screen, not meeting with my clients, interacting only digitally so they wouldn't know about my disability and wouldn't discriminate against me.
And suddenly I met you, Andreas, at that job interview in that hotel in Monterrey Mexico. I was selected to work on something I couldn't even understand a hundred percent: Dialogue in the Dark.
In total darkness and in front of visitors full of curiosity, I had to face my inner monsters. During those dialogues at the dark cafeteria, I paradoxically saw my defects and my mistakes, my fears, my insecurities, my prejudices and that false compassion and all those excuses that did not allow me to move forward.
The dialogues with persons living with no disability were literally healing. The physical darkness paradoxically helped me to expel my psychological darkness.
And since 2008 and until today you know the story pretty well: dignity. I have traveled the world, I have a house and a family and, above all, I am able to take care of them financially and emotionally. I have developed professionally as an executive coach inspired by workshops in the dark. I have deepened in other disciplines. And the last thing I intend to do today is to remain hidden behind a screen. All this thanks to having found you in my life.
The only thing I can wish you, is that life gives you back and multiplies all the positive things you have given me and many other people.