Donning a new avatar

34-year-old Praveen Shankhdhar had a steady career in advertising before he experienced sudden sight loss. He lost his job as an Art Director, given the inability to work using visual media. Too shocked to respond, he reached out to his family.

He went from one eye doctor to another but his vision continued to recede. Praveen was barely able to accept his physical condition when his family abandoned him. Married and a father of a three-year-old girl, he was further traumatized by such brutal indifference.

Fortunately, his friends offered support and sent him to Shankar Nethralaya for treatment. But the vision loss was permanent and the doctors suggested him to undergo rehabilitation.

Praveen felt hopeless until he joined the one-year training programme at the All India Confederation for the Blind. When he saw other visually impaired people, studying, working and functioning independently, he was pleasantly surprised.

As he learnt new skills, reorienting his ways, his notion of blindness began to change. But he was still unemployed. In a round table discussion organized by Eyeway, Praveen got an opportunity to narrate his personal account to a gathering of medical and rehabilitation professionals, government body and non-profit representatives working towards empowering people with vision impairment.

As a fallout of his interactions at the conference, Praveen was recently offered a job by the General Secretary of National Association for Blind (NAB) Delhi. Almost three years later, Praveen has resumed work as a Project Officer at NAB. He is happy to put his prior managerial experience and newly acquired skills to use in the new role.

Praveen is determined to show the world what he or any blind person can achieve.