AUGUST 19, 1955
LOS ANGELES—On Friday morning at 6:30 a.m. we left the ranch and my son and daughter-in-law, Minnewa, drove Dr. David Gurewitsch and myself as well as Minnewa's mother, Mrs. Bell, and my secretary, Miss Corr, into Denver.
Miss Corr left by an earlier plane than we did but we all managed to have a bite of lunch at the airport together before Dr. Gurewitsch and I took the plane for Los Angeles which got us there in the early evening where we were met by my son, James. Later we had the pleasure of seeing Mr. and Mrs. Hershey Martin for a little while, and on Saturday morning James saw us off on the long flight by Pan American to Tokyo.
Just before leaving Elliott's ranch at Meeker, I received a letter from the American Foundation for Overseas Blind, Inc. They told me a fact which troubles me greatly. Because of the war which inevitably brought widespread disease and deprivation, the blind population of S. Korea has risen to 100,000 people. Prior to the war S. Korea had long been occupied by the Japanese and therefore the S. Korean blind had no opportunity for good educational or vocational facilities. During the war the American Foundation For Overseas Blind had set up some stopgap programs. They had built and rebuilt, and relocated schools for blind children. They had done what they could to assist blind refugees and to reestablish vocational rehabilitation programs, but the organization found that this was not meeting the full time needs of the blind.
Then they sent their field director, himself a blind war veteran, to S. Korea to gather information and material to help make plans which would cover the needs and the aspirations of this considerable segment of the population who are blind. As a result of the initial work done by this man the organization has now sent over a team of four experts on education, rehabilitation and planning.
This is the first team of its kind, and they will spend two years in S. Korea. I hope very much that any people interested in the blind in the U.S. will carefully watch the work of these experts.
In Formosa the American Foundation for Overseas Blind made a study in the general field of blindness and their discovery of the prevalence of trachoma was staggering. It was found that practically nothing was being done for the many thousands of people who were contracting this disease especially in mountain areas which cover a large part of Formosa's terrain.
The Organization was successful in developing ophthalmic departments in the hospitals of Formosa's larger cities, permanent clinics in some of the more heavily populated mountain regions, and mobile medical units.
The American Foundation for Overseas Blind sent Helen Keller around the world to help in developing a knowledge of what can be done for the blind. She has told the American people that this organization is worthy of their support.