Ignorance and Apathy

Born blind in Pune, Maharashtra, Shruti Gujjar suffered at the hands of her family’s ignorance. Abandoned by her biological mother when she was only one, her stepmother considered the little girl a worthless burden. Family’s neglect led to delayed developmental milestones in Shruti, furthering her dependence on them.

The Eyeway centre in Mumbai received a desperate call from her stepmother, looking to rid herself of the girl’s responsibility. She asked for organizations that could offer permanent accommodation to her.

After a series of engagements, the Eyeway counselor understood the respective challenges faced by both mother and daughter. It was pertinent to counsel the family as much as looking for solutions to rehabilitate the girl.

Eyeway succeeded in sensitizing the mother towards the visually impaired girl’s different needs. Shruti could be an equal member of the family, like her sighted step brother, once she acquired adequate skills of independent living.

The real challenge was to find an organization willing to spend extra time and effort in training the thirteen-year-old to overcome her limitations. Institutions in and around Pune didn’t offer residential training facilities and so the counselor looked for solutions outside. An institute in Surendra Nagar, Gujarat has responded in the affirmative to impart rehabilitation training and other skills.

Absence of timely intervention not only stunted Shruti’s growth, but also turned the family apathetic towards the young child. Often the lack of support and solutions to families with visually impaired children provokes drastic measures like desertion.

Despite the Integrated Child Protection Schemes for vulnerable children in India, there are thousands like Shruti who are left to count on their fate. To ensure that such children also stand a fair chance at life, resources and mechanisms have to be in place to help them realise their true potential.