While strolling around I find a few girls walking on the street with canes. I asked one of them to explain what they were doing. “We are doing mobility training. We need to move parallel with it. This cane is our guide and it also tells us if there is any danger ahead. All we do is trust our instinct and walk,” says Aarti a 10th grade student.
“Our world revolves around these 6 dots in Braille. Louis Braille is like God for us,” adds Ridhi while teaching me Braille, on her stylus.
“We never had money initially to buy books or Braille slates. We approached several donors for help. Local donors started recognizing and appreciating our work. We now get our Braille slates and even novels for the library from Delhi. We also started a small shop in the school which gives the girls an exposure to the business world,” explains Shankarlal as we walked into the music room next. “Hum bacche hain, hume seekhna hain…” (We are kids. We yet have a lot to learn.) sang Ridhi as I entered the room, in rhythm with the harmonium being played by their music teacher.
The school consists of a computer lab equipped with special software that teaches these kids. The kids are also served a home cooked meal consisting of rotis, salad, rice, gravy, and curd.
Mithilesh the lady caretaker says, “These are the happiest kids I have ever come across. They have no regrets, and they never complain even when the power goes off. They say we are used to this. It feels great to see these girls going about their activities without any help. This, I think, is the major impact this school has made in their lives.”
“I want to set up a self-manufacturing Braille unit and print thick papers on which these girls can write. Due to a lack of funds, we are using newspapers as booklets presently,” adds Pankaj.
Standing tall for its yeoman service to the blind, Drishti Blind School is a symbol of hope for the underprivileged blind girls in and around Chitrakoot.
During my time at Drishti, I learnt invaluable lessons (and some Braille). I pack my happy experiences and leave Chitrakoot to head to my next destination.