The Eyeway Helpdesk receives 1500 to 2000 calls a month from visually impaired people across India. Most callers ask for opportunities of education and employment, government provisions and guidelines, aids and appliances, anything that will enable them to lead an independent life.
While the majority of the country’s 5.4 million blind population is a victim to ignorance, there are some who belie the stereotypes and ill-conceived societal notions with their hard work and grit.
A resident of Akola in Maharashtra, 44-year-old Rajesh Borle is one such case. Blind by birth, Rajesh was fortunate to have a supportive family and access to mainstream education. After acing his school examinations, Rajesh completed his MA and B.Ed. He has since been working as a special educator in an integrated school in his hometown.
During the course of his job, he learnt of the challenges faced by some of his visually impaired pupils. Their families treated them as a burden, some were abandoned, some struggled to pay for their education and accommodation.
Rajesh decided to help his students by not only spending extra time teaching but also lodging eight of them at his home. He would often call the Eyeway helpline in Mumbai seeking information on scholarships under government schemes, other benefits for students and the latest technology that could help in improving access to study material.
His own income insufficient to meet all the needs of his family and students, he thought of making additional money from investing in the stock market. Eyeway put him in touch with a group of visually impaired investors for expert advice.
Contrary to common perception of disability leading to dependency, Rajesh Borle is an ‘enabler’. Having overcome his own challenges, he is now determined to empower as many visually impaired children as he can.