Simon: Conveying the brilliance of life in darkness

“In the past, I kept pursuing honour and profit; now I just want to take up a job which has a positive impact on life.”

The nightmare of losing eyesight

He once led the market development team for an international company. But one day, Simon lost 97% of his vision and has since then lived in a world of blurred monotone. In spite of it all, he still managed to find the light amidst all the darkness.

Simon grew up in a humble family. With his relentless efforts, he has ascended to the top rung of the corporate ladder. He travelled abroad for business. Pursuing honour and profit, he aspired to excel in an ever-competitive corporate milieu and lived a hectic life with a sense of fulfilment. But it didn’t last long. In 2008, he found his vision getting blurry and he would often find himself bumping into others unintentionally. Worse still, his vision became more unclear at night. Later he was diagnosed with congenital retinitis pigmentosa. This led to the deterioration of his receptor cells in the retina.

Simon’s vision was impaired badly, which seriously affected his work. So he ended up quitting his job. “In the past, I thought I was an able person with a well-paid job and a successful career. After losing my eyesight, I couldn’t even squeeze out toothpaste onto my toothbrush. When I lost my job, my family also lost their financial support. At that time, my son was only 2 years old. I couldn’t imagine what my future would be. I pretended nothing had happened before my wife, but I was actually very anxious and frustrated.” Now Simon’s left eye is completely blind and the vision of his right eye is below 3%. He can merely perceive a tiny bit of light and shadow.

A wife’s loyalty and devotion through the tough times

Simon was forced to step down from his illustrious career due to his eye disease, which made him stay at home all the time. However, being incapable of walking freely had allowed him to spend more time with his family. Before that, when he was a senior staff in the company, he had no choice but to devote himself wholeheartedly to work. He spent over half his time in business trips. His son didn’t even recognize him when he got home. What’s more, he and his wife became more and more distant emotionally. “I thought I could make up by giving them more financial support. It sounds all ridiculous to me now,” he says.

During those trying times, his family whom he had long neglected remained supportive despite his shortcomings. “At that time my wife kept saying a lot of things to cheer me up. I remember she said, ‘In fact, life can be very simple. Now that our son can always be with his dad again, and I can be with my husband, I feel very satisfied. Nothing is more important than this!’ At that moment, I found that true love does reveal itself in tough times. At last, I could not help bursting into tears, which had been hidden for years.”

Simon’s wife fully understands that her husband always want to play the “tough guy”. When he encounters difficulties in his daily life, she seldom helps him directly. What she does is to ask their son to “collaborate” with his father. She is also very creative and makes rice dishes for the family, so that Simon can have his meal independently.

Having gained support from his family, Simon has come through a few months of painful and challenging times. After that, he started to calm down and wonder, “What I can do right now? I was brought up in a poor family, and after graduation from secondary school, I entered the workforce and went to night school. I could even manage to gain an edge in such a fiercely competitive commercial world, why should I give in this time?”

Looking for a job with “humanistic” values

Simon resumed his job hunting afterwards. Even though he had abundant experience in the field of market development and sent out numerous job applications throughout a year, he was not successful in the end. It was all due to the fact that he mentioned his blindness frankly in his application. Despite expecting low pay, he did not receive any good news in his job seeking endeavours.

Facing such a harsh reality, Simon had no choice but to make a living by putting his meagre savings in personal investment while staying alert on risk management. Though Simon and his family lived a simple life, they were always full of joy. As he stayed with his son throughout his growth process, he inspired his son to cultivate positive thoughts and values. Being supported and encouraged by his family, Simon has gradually shifted his focus away from fame and profit.

On top of this, Simon also plucked up his courage to participate in rehabilitation training programmes offered by the Hong Kong Society for the Blind. Later, he applied for a job at Dialogue Experience (DE) and worked as a part-time guide and workshop lecturer at DE. During that period, Simon said his personality had changed dramatically, “My work at DE enabled me to have a profound understanding on the mutual appeal and impact between lives, which motivated me to look into this area and take up a ‘humanistic’ job for my career development.”

Ever since the onset of his eye disease eight years ago, Simon has wasted no time and had even more diverse experience than many healthy people. He has been participating in various trainings proactively and became one of Hong Kong’s first visually-impaired baristas having attained international professional qualifications. He has recently also completed a training course on professional coaching. Now he has become a Life & Career Coach and embarked on his career development in a brand-new aspect.

Recently, DE has established an on-the-job training scheme, “DE Empower”, * tailored for highly graduated People of Differences (disabled talents with different abilities). Simon is one of the mentors and offers guidance to the mentees. He said, “I hope to accompany them and help them explore their potential, identify their career goal and even achieve breakthroughs. This mission is pretty challenging, giving myself a great sense of satisfaction.”

When Simon serves different roles, he keeps inspiring his mentees and colleagues on their view of life with his unique experience. “Sometimes I receive thank you messages on how my sharing has changed them. This makes me really happy! However, some people might also question my ability, leaving me doubtful about myself. At that time I would encourage myself: I could even overcome my blindness, why should I give in for such a trivial matter?” Based on his perseverance, Simon hopes to make use of his past experience in the commercial world to enlighten the life of his counterparts, so as to strengthen their willpower.

His most significant roles by far

No matter what his career development will be in the future, Simon said there is a role he can never let go – taking care of his family. “My family has supported me in those dark days. Now I persist in work-life balance and taking time off to stay with my family no matter how busy I am. My son is 10 years old now – I thought my experience has inspired him to develop an optimistic mindset. Sometimes I accompany him to school by walking with my cane, he never feels embarrassed. He even introduced me to his classmates, praising me for being a good father.”

When talking about his son, Simon took out his phone excitedly. With the light spots he could merely perceive, he shared with us some photos of his family, “the one with the long hair is my wife, there should be a photo of my son playing the saxophone, and another one showing his self-portrait. He is really good at drawing… in fact, I don’t know what he looks like now, but some people say that his mouth and his eyes take after me and his mom respectively.”

Being visually-impaired does not deter Simon from receiving selfless love and warmth from his family, which motivates him to become a better husband and father. Based on this impetus, Simon keeps equipping himself and conveying the brilliance of humanity to other people.

*”DE Empower” provides highly graduated People of Differences (Disabled talents are people with different abilities, ‘PoD’) with a 6-month

job immersion experience via training and real business projects, helping them prepare for the mainstream job market or develop their own career. Learn more