#blog Hjalmar van der Drift
Checking if a train is coming at a station is a routine movement for most people, looking left, right, left and checking if it's safe to go. But this day was different, “I did not see anything coming. That was the moment where I realised I had to do everything using sound!”
This is the inspiring story of Wiel Vos, a man who lost his eyesight, but still managed to do everything he wanted to do.
Visually impaired from a young age
When Wiel was born, he didn't realise any issues with his eyesight. At the tender age of 4, the first problems started showing. He went to the farm with his dad, where he had been countless times before. The farm was surrounded by fences which Wiel always climbed under. But this time it was dark and he completely missed the fence. This didn't seem like a big deal however, 30 minutes later he ran into the same fence once again when heading home. This was reason enough for his parents to take him to the ophthalmologist (eye doctor). They came to the conclusion that Wiel suffers from night blindness.
This brought more problems than he initially expected. It resulted in switching schools a couple of times, and changing ordinary tasks in the house to be accessible to him. Eventually, he ended up at a school for visually impaired people. This is where he thrived, he ended up finishing his Havo (second-highest high school level in the Netherlands). Meeting people who were just like him and to who he could relate. However, Wiel had bigger dreams of becoming a physiotherapist. He had all the capabilities to become this but, unfortunately, he wasn't allowed to fulfil his lifelong dream. The problems with his eyes were too severe to be allowed into the physiotherapy study.
Finding a Job
Due to his dream of physiotherapy falling to pieces he decided upon applying at DSM. The conversations were positive and everything seemed to be set in stone for Wiel to begin his career at DSM. The only thing standing in his way was the medical team. But, you guessed it: he was refused once again. In case of emergency, they believed having someone with a visual disability would be too much of a liability. This was another slap into the face of Wiel, once again his eyesight stood in the way of his lifelong dreams. Out of necessity, Wiel decided upon a career in the administrative sector.
The moment of change
During this time Wiel's eyesight was getting worse every year, but at least he was still able to see. This changed abruptly in September '90. Wiel was working his administrative jobs when his computer turned grey. He asked some colleagues to look at it the issue, but when the colleague showed up, he told Wiel the screen was working perfectly fine. Then Wiel looked at the roof and came to the realisation that it was not the computer had a technical issue. Instead he himself didn't see anything anymore. In one moment his life was rocked to its core, as he became fully blind.
The same day he went to the hospital, making emergency appointments. After some research, the doctor noted that Wiel had suffered from a Hemorrhage in both eyes.
The planned vacation
This immediate blindness would turn most people's world upside down but not for Wiel, he had something else on his mind: his holiday to Curacao the next week! He was planning on meeting a woman there which he had been planning to meet for years.
He asked the doctor if it was okay to go on holiday the next week. The doctor was hesitant but still gave the green light. It was only later on that the doctor realised that the destination was Curacao instead of something closeby like Zeeland. Wiel casually answered: ''Well they have one thing in common, they are both next to the water!''
Most people would take months or even years to reshape their life after such a tragic event. Not Wiel, he was on the plane to Curacao the next week. The women he was meeting knew of Wiel's visual impairment but wasn't aware that he had turned fully blind a week before meeting her. When arriving at the airport he met her and she was a bit surprised to see that Wiel was fully blind. She asked about it, Wiel stated that he turned blind and there was a big possibility that he may never be able to see again. This was followed by a reaction Wiel never expected: ''then I can be your eyes for the rest of your life''. This was a huge relief for Wiel. He had a great time in Curacao and didn't let his visual obstacles get in the way of his holiday. Wiel fell in love with Curacao but also with the woman. They ended up being together from that point onwards and even got married years later. He states that this holiday was the best decision he ever made, even after everyone told him to not go!
Always staying positive
Returning back home from his holiday the misery started again. Wiel did operation after operation with the hope of retaining his eyesight but without any result. Even the doctors questioned Wiel why he kept this on without any hope of a result. Wiel's response was that if he ended up fully blind in the future, at least he had tried everything to prevent this. After a few years, the last operation possible was also unsuccessful. He had done everything in his power but it did not avail.
In true Wiel fashion, it didn't bother him one bit. The next day he was in class studying braille and restructuring his life. The year of rehabilitation was tough, long days of hard work. Wiel put in the work and ended up mastering braille to perfection! He stood out, therefore the offers for jobs came flying in. Wiel ended up choosing a career at the municipality. Here he showed his value for years. He became an unmissable piece for the team and was regarded as a great talent. Wiel ended up working there for years, even with all the difficulties that came Wiel's way he still managed to flourish in his position. To thank Wiel for his great service he was allowed to retire at the age of 60 and enjoy his pension.
Be like Wiel
Wiel is the perfect resemblance of what we stand for at Hable. Bold, Brave, and always in control of life! Even with everything coming his way Wiel still managed to accomplish a successful career and he didn't let anything stop him from what he wanted to accomplish, even if this goes against others' advice.