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Born in Suffolk, Virginia, she lost her sight in an accident when a doctor spilled acid into her eyes when she was two months old. She went on to attend Overbrook School for the Blind and Columbia Teachers College.
Since her youth she had dreamed of becoming a teacher to help create a better understanding between Japanese and Americans. Her dream came true in 1923, when she came to Japan, where she taught English for a living as well as Braille to blind students.
In 1938 she opened the Bangkok School for the Blind, partly financed by her own savings, after she learned that blind children were considered useless in Thailand. Resisting repatriation during World War II, she stayed in Bangkok and continued to work for her school. From 1956 to 1960, she organized a school for the blind and a rehabilitation center for boys in Saigon.
Her autobiography "The Kingdom Within" was published in 1960.
In 1961, Caulfield was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding. On 6 December 1963, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President John F. Kennedy in recognition of her work for the blind in Asia. The award was given by President Lyndon B. Johnson in honor of President John F. Kennedy.
- Shavit, David (1990). The United States in Asia: A Historical Dictionary, p.87. Greenwood Publishing Group.
- Moss, Ruth (October 20, 1963). "She Proves the Blind Can Lead the Blind!". Chicago Tribune. p. 2-Section 5. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
- Caulfield, Genevieve. "The Kingdom Within". Harper, 1960
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