Persistence breathes fresh life

Visually Impaired Chotu Bharati, an 18 year old from Gorakhpur, UP in retrospect thinks the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) camp could have guided him better in pursuing his education and that would have helped him save the four years he lost doing nothing, being unaware.

Chotu had sight related issues from cataract since birth and in 2010while doing his 4th standard in school he lost his complete vision. His parents tried whatever possible treatment they could afford from around Gorakhpur and Lucknow till 2013 but they had to resign to the fact of his blindness soon. This also resulted in his school education coming to a standstill. But as a temporary relief to the family they met with a SSA camp representative in a Gorakhpur hospital and took the person’s guidance and joined the camp. He enrolled in an eight months long training and stayed in the SSA accommodation aspiring to make full use of the training program. He not only wanted to learn some skills but also wanted to learn about a life with blindness by socialising with fellow visually impaired individuals. The training wound up in 8 months and Chotu came back home after learning Braille. But before long he started thinking, now that he learned Braille what’s next? Whenever he enquired with the SSA authorities, he was assured assistance for pursuing his education in return. But nothing materialised and Chotu remained at home for the next four years believing there is nothing more left for him to do.

But somewhere a glimmer of hope was alive and he kept looking for solutions to come out of his circumstances. But the lack of awareness, access to information and poverty at home didn’t help his case. His father was a daily wager and the only breadwinner for a family of six. This left the family having to prioritise the majority’s problem over that of Chotu’s which was income, food, daily expenses etc. The family remained supportive but the necessities of existence forced them to leave Chotu to his plight. Chotu remained positive, kept going back to the SSA authorities, sought information from friends and other available sources like the radio, television etc. And his inquisitive mind did receive some comfort when his friend heard about Eyeway over the radio program ‘Hamari Vaani’ and informed him. It was the first time he heard of anything beyond Braille for the visually impaired and he couldn’t sit still. He gathered the number for Eyeway from his friend and immediately contacted Eyeway in July 2018. His visible problems were around education, employment and living life with blindness. He also shared that he wants to financially support his struggling parents. This was the first chance he got in four years to redeem his life and he was not going to let that go cheaply.

On comprehending his issue counselor found benefit in directing him back to education in order to complete his schooling. Also, the desire in Chotu’s voice to go back to school was evident. Age was also on his side to do schooling and cover for his lost years. Chotu was still confident of a day-scholar education over open schooling. To gain the right judgement counselor contacted the principal of Bharat Blind School, Delhi and discussed the issue. Over the discussion counselor gathered better knowledge and suggested to Chotu to join the Bharat Blind School where he can try being a day-scholar and if found difficult can shift to open schooling. In both the cases, he will be provided free accommodation and the opportunity to finish schooling in the few years ahead. This will also allow him to manage his life on his own. Chotu has agreed to the suggestion by Eyeway counselor and has enrolled himself in Bharat Blind School; New Delhi in September 2018.Eyeway could comprehend the context of Chotu’s problem and thus give him the right guidance and tie him up to the right place wherefrom we hope Chotu will make his dreams come true.