The blind leading the blind


“A hilarious boost for the spirit for everyone in a time of crisis

This is a story about Niek and Joyce.

Niek has a spinal cord lesion and Joyce suffers from Usher Syndrome, which will slowly make her both deaf and blind. Of course, these things are not easy to live with, but these two are coping well. They sure do: they literally draw full houses as inspiring speakers.

Until the coronavirus suddenly puts a stop to these meetings. Niek and Joyce are in sackcloth and ashes. Or rather in a walk-in wardrobe and at the kitchen table. Their work is gone, their health is threatened, all the news is bad news and hugging is no longer allowed. Niek withdraws into himself under his duvet and Joyce turns to chocolate.

However, after a while they are cannot suppress their natural optimism any longer and so they start searching for new ways to make themselves useful and to tell their stories. This goes by trial and error. Niek tries singing for a while (not a good idea) and Joyce tries doing odd jobs (not a good idea either). Still, their search does lead them somewhere eventually and they gain a lot of insights along their ways. It also results in this book: a hilarious boost for the spirit for everyone in a time of crisis.#sterkercoronadoor

Not hear, Not see, do speak


If your world becomes dark and quiet, will you be quiet as well?

When Joyce was seventeen years old, a physician told her that she would be of no value for society. He advised her to learn a language. “Then you can perhaps translate a book some time.” That was all that was in it for her, according to him.

At that moment, Joyce has just found out that she suffers from the very rare Usher Syndrome, which would gradually deteriorate her hearing and seeing in the course of time and cause her to be deaf and blind by the time she would be forty years old. Because of this diagnosis she was in a hurry: she wanted to see everything, learn everything and experience everything before her world would be definitely dark and quiet. She continuously fought against her disease and she desperately searched for a way to see the good of it – until she realised that she could never win this fight. Then she started to believe that she had something to tell the world. The fact that she would no longer be able to hear or see some time in the future did not necessarily mean that she would also not speak.

Now she is married, mother of two children, entrepreneur and a popular speaker. She cannot stop the approaching darkness and quietness, but she can use her story to inspire others and to learn how to better cope with changes.

And no, she never translated a book. She did, however, write one. And some book this is!