Visually impaired man to attempt Mardi Himal Trek to raise funds for St Nicholas’ Home

GEORGE TOWN, March 22 — When Darren Yuen Wai Keong was told that he will be gradually losing his sight due to a rare condition at the age of 16, he thought it meant he would have to change his lifestyle to do more indoor activities.

However, Yuen loved Nature and the outdoors so despite losing his mid-peripheral and far peripheral vision, he continued to lead an active lifestyle participating in various sports and activities.

The 46-year-old joined guided runs with his friends as his guides and he went on hikes, again with his friends as guides.

Back in 2016, he even joined an expedition to climb Gunung Api in Mulu, Sarawak.

“That was a nightmare experience, I fell down a lot and it gave me such a shock that I was put off hiking for a while,” he said at a press conference here to announce his Mardi Himal trek to raise funds for St Nicholas’ Home.

By now, Yuen has developed tunnel vision and is losing his central vision due to the rare eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa (RP).

He said while he can still see shapes of objects with sharp contrasts between white and black, everything is dim and blurry for him.

This means he would not be able to ascertain depth or distance or see any objects in his peripheral vision.

“Due to the Mulu experience, I did not want to attempt hiking again but my friends encouraged me and I realised that instead of focusing on my limitations, I should work around my limitations and do my best to transcend them,” he said.

He started hiking again with the help of his friends last year.

Darren Yuen (centre) and his friends, Samuel Shee (right) and Carolyn Ooi will be attempting the Mardi Himal Trek at the end of this month.

Yuen and his friends, Samuel Shee and Carolyn Ooi, started to plan for a trekking trip to Nepal.

They chose the Mardi Himal trek, a moderate high-altitude trek that doesn’t require mountaineering skills or a lot of experience.

It is also one of the shortest treks in the Annapurna region at 40 kilometres and is suitable for beginners and moderate trekkers.

Yuen said he is quite nervous about the trek but he wanted to do it to set an example for other visually impaired persons (VIP).

“I want to send a message to all VIPs that blindness is not a disability and I want them to experience life fully by transcending their limitations,” he said.

Apart from using his trek as an inspiration for other VIPs, he also decided to turn it into a fund-raising event in aid of St Nicholas’ Home.

He said he wanted to inspire the VIPs in St Nicholas Home and at the same time raise funds to benefit them through his trek.

“I want to do my best to complete this trek at the Mardi Himal viewpoint which is at 4,200 metres above sea level,” he added.

The trio will be leaving for Nepal on March 29 before starting the trek from Pokhara.

It will be a high-altitude six-day trek in which the first four days are spent ascending and the last two days are for the descent.

They will only be flying back to Malaysia on April 9.

Yuen said they do not have any target amount to raise for St Nicholas’ Home but he only hopes people will support him by donating to the home.

He has set up social media pages for the public to follow his trekking journey and for the public to donate.

“I will be sharing pictures of my trek on social media so people can follow along,” he said.

As for the way forward, Yuen said after completing this trek, he may attempt other treks in future.

Well-wishers can donate to the cause here.

Those who wish to follow his journey at the Mardi Himal trek, can go to :




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