Working for the disabled in the tribal district of Dahod, Gujarat
A Wikipedia article on “Dahod” will tell you that the town is a “model town”. This made me wonder why a colleague, who had visited Dahod earlier, advised me not to spend the night here but do a daylong visit and be off. But in hindsight, I realized that this was good advice.
Dahod is a small town in north-east Gujarat, close to the Madhya Pradesh-Rajasthan border. Historically, it is the birthplace of the last great Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, who, it is said, had ordered his ministers to favor this town, as it was his birthplace. Also, Tatya Tope, the freedom fighter, is known to have absconded in Dahod.
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How it all began
Blind Welfare Council, Dahod has been set up by Mr. Yusufi Kapadia along with seven of his friends. Infact 8 of the organizations Trustees, including Mr. Yusufi Kapadia himself, are visually-impaired.
In 1980, Mr. Kapadia completed his standard 10 SSC examination. Infact, he was the first blind student in Dahod to give this examination. He also went on to become a graduate. Being blind himself, he was keen to do something for others like him. (He lost his eyesight at the age of 10 due to Retina Detachment, which first affected one eye, and shortly after, the second one too). That is what lead him to take up the role of Secretary at the National Association for the Blind (NAB).
A glimpse into the lives changed
Blind Welfare Council’s impact can best be understood through the lives it changes. Here is the exceptional story of Girish.
Girish Dahyagiri Gosai was born on the 1st of September, 1993, at Kharol village, which is in a remote deep forest area of Panchmahal. He suffers from mental retardation. Having lost his father at the early age of 7, Girish was brought up by his mother and uncle, who are farmers living below the poverty line. One of BWC’s teachers, who works for Inclusive Education for Disabled Children at Secondary (IEDSS) level came to know about Girish. But it took much convincing on his part to get Girish’s mother and uncle to send Girish to BWC.