They set the blind in motion

They set the blind   in motion

Yashoda, a visually challenged from Bajal, engrossed in paper bag making at Blind Mobility Centre in Attavar.  Sheetal (right), a specially abled engaged in work.

Whenever a visually impaired person consults an ophthalmologist for further treatment or assistance, the most common and depressing response one gets is, ‘nothing can be done,’ thus indicating that the person is blind and he will remain as a blind forever. But one of the city’s ophthalmologist Dr Ram Mohan Rao ten years back realised that something can be done to improve the condition of visually challenged which would make them confident as well as independent.

It was with this view that the only Blind Mobility Centre of Mangalore began to function on October 12, 2000, in a small building constructed at N G Road, Attavar, under the patronage of Rotary Club, Mangalore. The Centre that was set open by a tiny group of friends including Dr Rao, Soorya Prakash Bhat, Dr R L Kamath and an entrepreneur Sunil Jalan, celebrated its decennial celebration recently. The Mobility Centre which stresses on converting the visually challenged into confident and productive individuals has trained 148 people till date.

The visually challenged are provided with free training about mobility as well as vocational training here. The mobility training imparted to improve their basic life skills includes teaching them to travel by bus, walking on the road independently, counting coins and notes, telephoning etc, while the vocational training concentrates on teaching self employment skills such as knitting, chalk making, paper bag, phenoil preparation etc.

Speaking to City Herald, the founding President of the Centre Dr Ram Mohan Rao said that sole intention of the centre is to provide social and economic rehabilitation, vocational training and integrated education to the visually challenged which is being served at the centre. “The visually challenged are treated with sympathy and have no voice in our society. By understanding the hurdles faced by the blind, we started the Centre to reduce their problems at least to certain extent. When we look at few of the visually impaired people working in bread factory, hotels, hospitals and in telephone booths, it gives an immense pleasure as they are no more dependent and burden to their families,” says Dr Rao.

According to Dr Rao, the necessary aspect to deal with as for as a visually challenged man is concerned is to develop sensory awareness, spatial concepts, independent movements and protective techniques which is offered by trainers Lydia Pierera and Sowmya in the Centre.  

No more dependent

Speak to Yashoda from Bajal who lost her eyesight when she was 18. Despite the psychological pressure she was prone to when she lost her eyesight, she coped up with the loss and pursued basic and vocational training in the Centre for 6 weeks. From past 10 years, she is actively involved in preparing various items in the centre which provides her a standard livelihood. “I have a family of my own with husband and two children. No more I worry about my lost eye sight as I am independent to do my as well as others work,” she says.

The centre, in spite of taking up all the constructive works, is operating in an old building which is in a devastating condition. Though facelift is the need of the hour, owing to monetary reasons, the Centre that is run by very few interested philanthropists, could not afford to find a new building.

“We not only train the visually challenged, but also invite students from other institutions to visit the Centre so as to view the activities carried out here. We do have plans to construct a new building and have received assurances from the authorities concerned to work in this regard. We hope the Centre finds a new building in a short span as a memory of the decennial celebration,” says the Centre Secretary Soorya Prakash Bhat.

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