Shekar is from very rural village Thimmapur, KandukurMandal, Ranga Reddy district in Andhra Pradesh, India. Having been born to a peasant father and home-maker mother, Shekar had great respect for education. Though he was born blind, Shekarwas not content to remain at home as many blind kids do. His parents were determined to give him agood education in spite of the discrimination of his neighbors and relatives. Shekar’sparents gave him strong moral support and great love and care ever Since he was a child. They always wanted Shekar to become a great role model to other people in society.
Shekar’s blindness was caused due to nerves and retina problems. He started his early schooling in his village Thimmapur. He was very active and involved with sighted classmates during his early schooling, showing his interest in learning class material and in sports. He would play with his friends, though his friends would try to discriminate against him for his disability. Shekar recalled that his friend’s negative comments challenged him to get inspired, aim high, and work hard. Shekar could not understand why people often show sympathy instead of providing opportunities to excel, for he believes in the importance of internal mental vision rather than physical external vision.
In the eighth grade, Shekar transferred to a blind school in Hyderabad when he started facing social and academic problems, for he could not read printed textbooks or write exams due to his disability. As soon as Shekar joined his blind school, he was taught to write Braille and do math using a special frame.According to him, he “hardly had access to Braille books and electronic study material, yet [he] managed to study well and get good grades with the help of one of [his] teachers, Swarnalatha.She used to record our textbooks and question banks in audio. She is one of the main members of Samanvai who encouraged me to study well in spite of my financial problems. When I was in the tenth grade, Samanvai members assured me that they would help me out after my tenth grade to complete my education and achieve my goals.”
This is where Shekar’s life began to take a smooth path. Shekar wrote his tenth public exam with the help of a ninth class sighted scribe, and after Shekar passed his tenth grade with 70 percent, he joined intermediate junior college at Bhavans Sri Aravindo Junior College at Sainicpuri, Hyderabad. He continued his passion for education and hard work and passed with 87 percent. Currently Shekar is doing CA IPCC GROUP 1; in addition to this, he is also graduating from Maitreyi College. Shekar has been getting much support from Samanvai, for “as Samanvai members promised, they have been helping me after completing my tenth grade. They pay my college tuition, living and boarding, books and other technological tools. Without the help from Samanvai, I can’t imagine [having] my present educational qualification and [accomplishing] my future goals; additionally, besides helping, Samanvai members show great care and affection towards students”he said.
Shekar is learning to use a computer efficiently at Samanvai Computer Training Center under qualified faculty. Shekar says “I use [the] computer at Samanvai for writing my notes and doing accounts and class assignments. Besides, I use [the] computer to read my books, scan printed material, and to search the internet. ”Shekar also uses assistive software like Tally for accounts, JAWS, Screen Reader, Kurzweil for scanning and reading recorded material, and many other software. Shekar also uses a digital voice recorder to record his lectures and store class notes and recorded material. He studies with the help of standard cassettes, using these cassettes to listen to recorded material. Shekar mentioned that Samanvai is one of the best organizations trying to help students with multiple disabilities build careers. Samanvai has a unique approach to help every student on a case-by-case basis depending on his or her needs. Samanvai has the latest adaptive technology and specialized trainers; above all, “Samanvai staff and volunteers are very patient, loving, caring and friendly to students.”
Shekar would like to become a renowned chartered accountant for big Indian IT firms like Infosys and Wipro. He also expresses interest in sports and extracurricular activities. When he was in school and college, he excelled in chess, blind cricket and wali ball. Shekar loves to read inspirational autobiographies, adventure and classic novels and poetry, which make him think in his free time.
Shekar requests all visually challenged students to aim high and work hard in spite of any physical or financial challenges. Shekar requests that society realizesthe talent and potential among challenged people and creates equal opportunities instead of useless sympathy. “Never believe your disability, but do believe in your intellect and hard work. Don’t be disabled, but be always [a] differently abled person with confidence, willpower and self-respect.” He highly recommends Samanvai services to students with multiple disabilities. Shekar highly rates Samanvai’s training programs and he requests his friends and challenged community to learn to operate the computer, which will help in education and employment. Samanvai is always willing to help students who are sincere and dedicated to raise their position in life. Samanvai has many training programs to fulfill educational, vocational, financial and employment needs. Please read our website to know more about our services. Samanvai wishes Shekara happy bright future and expects Shekar to help many students like him in the near future.
Written by Srikanth Bolla, for Samanvai news.
Source of information: interview with student Shekar and Samanvai website http://samanvai.org/