Blind student has lifeline stolen

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Maria Marchaqa with her guide dog Chasqui

By Cara Sulieman

A BLIND student has been left struggling to pay her rent after her specially adapted laptop was stolen during an overnight coach trip to London.

Maria Marchaqa, 28, wasn’t allowed to take the £1,000 computer on board the bus with her as it was too bulky.

When she got to London, the laptop was missing from the hold compartment.

And the student says she has lost her independence and feels cut off after the theft.

“Very difficult”

She said: “I’m at a complete loss now. I have no means of communication and feel completely isolated.

“It is bad enough, but I am not going to be able to pay my rent for much longer. My equipment was my lifeline.

“The amount of time it takes me to write an essay means I have no time to go and play music, which is how I earn my rent and my living.

“My partner is being supportive but we are struggling. It is very difficult as I am normally very independent.

“My life has just stopped.”

Maria is studying business administration at the Royal National College for the Blind and uses her music to help pay the bills.

Robbed of independence

During a recent trip on a National Express coach, Maria was upset when she was asked to put it in the hold instead of carrying it on board with her.

The total cost of laptop and speech-recognition and Easy Braille software was more than £1,000 and the item was not insured.

A spokesman for RNIB Scotland said: “It’s bad enough for anyone to have something stolen, but for a person with sight loss, the theft of a vital piece of equipment like this also robs them of their ability to participate in everyday life.

“In Maria’s case, it has disrupted her education and ability to earn a living.

“We very much hope that if whoever is responsible reads this, they will return her property. Surely they will realise how devastating the consequences of their actions have been.”

A spokeswoman for National Express said: “We apologise to Maria for the inconvenience this had caused and we are in touch to offer some compensation for the loss.”

She added that luggage can only be taken on board if it fits in overhead luggage racks or under the seats.

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