August 7, 2002 - Arizona Daily Star: Honduras RPCV Ray Mungaray helps people adjust to a life of blindness

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2002: 08 August 2002 Peace Corps Headlines: August 7, 2002 - Arizona Daily Star: Honduras RPCV Ray Mungaray helps people adjust to a life of blindness

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, August 12, 2002 - 11:12 am: Edit Post

Honduras RPCV Ray Mungaray helps people adjust to a life of blindness

Read and comment on this story from the Arizona Daily Star on Honduras RPCV Ray Mungaray who helps people adjust to a life of blindness at:

He helped blind find their way*

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He helped blind find their way

Aug 7, 2002 - Arizona Daily Star

Author(s): Ernesto Portillo Jr.


For more than three decades, Ray Mungaray helped people adjust to a life of blindness.

If he could see them today, he would see blind people smiling, working and making success of a difficult transition.

Mungaray cannot see them because he is blind. Still, he knows the life-changing role he played.

His career ended Friday, when Mungaray, 65, walked out of his state government office on the fifth floor of the old Pioneer Hotel downtown and into mandatory retirement.

For 34 years, Mungaray taught people new to blindness the skills and techniques to manage their daily lives. He encouraged them to overcome obstacles. He cheered them when they did.

And as regional blindness coordinator for five Southern Arizona counties, Mungaray fought to win services and understanding for Arizonans who are blind.

"More blind people are being integrated," said Mungaray, who worked for the Rehabilitation Services Administration.

One major reason, he said, is technology.

Talking computers and magnified computer screens allow blind or partially blind people to work jobs previously closed to them.

Today, we may not even know that the clerk at the counter or a receptionist in the office is blind.

Attitudes have changed, too, he said. "People's misconceptions about the blind are lessening."

Resistance does persist in hiring blind people, Mungaray said. An estimated 22,000 to 23,000 people in Pima County fall into that category.

Blind since his birth in Winkelman, Mungaray was brought to Tucson at age 7 by his miner father so he could attend the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. The family moved into nearby Barrio Hollywood, where some of them still live.

He learned at school how to live with his blindness, and at home how to live among the sighted. Mungaray's parents did not segregate him from others. His parents' philosophy was to open his life to every opportunity.

After high school in 1956, he entered the University of Arizona, where he was one of a very few blind students. State-paid note takers assisted Mungaray in his classes - but he had to find the classes.

"I had to hustle," said the fast-talking Mungaray.

He proved his resourcefulness while serving with the Peace Corps in Honduras. He began teaching survival skills to blind people in a Central American country with virtually no services for them.

Again he hustled. He learned when to persuade and when to demand.

He returned with a Honduran bride to Tucson. They started a family and he went to work for the state in 1968.

His impact was enormous.

"He inspired me," said Cheryl Shepard, a University of Arizona senior in 1970 when she awoke one morning blind in one eye. Several months later she lost sight in the second eye.

She was 21, lost and confused.

The fog began to clear when she met Mungaray. He urged her to complete her studies and take on the new challenge.

His positive and sensitive approach helped her achieve just that, Shepard said.

As he had before and since, Mungaray saw a need and he helped fill it.

Contact Ernesto Portillo Jr. at 573-4242 or e-mail He appears on "Arizona Illustrated" on KUAT- TV, Channel 6 at 6:30 p.m. & 11:30 p.m. Fridays.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Service; What RPCVs are doing; COS - Honduras



By ihab m. saber ( on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 2:28 pm: Edit Post

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