Stop and smell the flowers: Ooi smelling the ‘jejarum’ flowers at the TNB-MAB sensory garden at the MAB complex in Kuala Lumpur.
KUALA LUMPUR: Godfrey Ooi, 66, moved excitedly through Malaysia’s first sensory garden, stopping at each one to feel the plants and read their names aloud to his two friends.
Ooi, however, was not reading the signs with his eyes. Rather, the senior citizen, who has been blind since birth, was using his sense of touch to name the plants.
“It is a very good thing that we have this garden, so people like me can use our other senses to experience the beauty of nature.
“The plan to develop this garden for visually-impaired people has been in the works since 2005, and I am glad to see it has come to pass,” he said when met at the TNB-MAB sensory garden within the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) complex in Brickfields here yesterday.
A sensory garden is specifically created for the benefit of the visually-impaired, so they can rely on touch, smell and sound to distinguish between plants.
The garden here is a joint project between MAB and Tenaga Nasional Berhad, and contains over 30 plants, including kenanga, jejarum, ciku and kedondong.
Ooi and his two friends Barnabas Lee and Thavasothy S.M. Pillai, were the centre of attention as they moved through the garden, impressing other visitors with their fast reading of the Braille signs indicating the names of plants.
“I know the plants are still young now, but I’m sure the garden will be much better once the plants have grown a bit more and it will be easier for us to learn to distinguish them,” said Ooi, who recently retired from the MAB committee.
Women, Family and Community Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim, who launched the garden yesterday, said the initiative would enable more visually-impaired people to experience the beauty of nature and increase their environmental awareness.
“Many of us have heard of identifying plants based on smell, but I was very interested to hear that plants can also be distinguished by the sounds they make when the wind blows,” she said.
Rohani added that there were not many sensory parks in Asean countries, but they were not uncommon in developed countries like the United States, Germany, and Australia.