Seeking financial independence

38-year-old Hajra Shaikh lives in Parbhani, Maharashtra. At 15, Hajra was diagnosed of a progressive eye disorder called Retinitis Pigmentosa and she started to lose her vision gradually. She struggled to complete her Class X and quit formal education soon after, slipping into depression. An only child to her parents, Hajra’s family encouraged her to fight back and face life’s challenges. After a gap of few years, she somewhat accepted her situation and resumed her education. She was determined to work hard and seek employment for herself so that instead of being a burden on the family, she could be a provider.

Hajra decided to become a teacher but despite all her qualifications, she couldn’t secure a stable job. Her next option was to get a government job and she appeared for banking and teaching exams. While preparing for her exam for an Assistant’s post advertised by the RBI, Hajra faced some issues pertaining to the scribe guidelines. Looking for assistance online, she stumbled upon Eyeway toll-free number and called our Helpdesk in Mumbai.

The counselor helped resolve her immediate query and Hajra started a dialogue with Eyeway. The counselor realized that despite all her educational qualifications, the lack of a secure job troubled Hajra. She also seemed unprepared to deal with a further deterioration of her eye condition. So as solutions, the counselor suggested Hajra to explore self-employment options alongside applying for a government job. Since the number of people seeking government jobs is reasonably high, the chances of obtaining one are low. So Eyeway redirected Hajra to apply for a loan from the Maharashtra State Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation and start something of her own.

Following our suggestion and advice on how to submit a business proposal, Hajra got a loan sanctioned to start a business of cosmetics along with her mother. When she shared her relief and happiness with Eyeway, the counselor reiterated the need for her to pursue a proper rehabilitative and mobility training so that she can operate her business with ease and carry on with her life independently.

But as in the case of Hajra and several other callers who contact the Eyeway helpline, we realize that there are limited job opportunities available for visually impaired people. Government sector has a reserved quota of jobs, specifically categorised for persons with vision impairment and a large section of population to cater to. Private sector too has very limited offerings. There is a critical need to spread awareness regarding the potential of blind people in the country and their capacity to perform a host of mainstream jobs.