She has a keen vision for the disabled

In the year 1999, Renuka Bhagat, graduating from Jalandhar College, was
pr­eparing for her examinations when for the first time in her life faced difficulties while reading. Days later, her doctor’s words devastated her when medical examinations revealed that she was suffering from Retinitis pigmento­sa (RP) a genetic condition that causes severe vision impairment and often blindne­ss.

Over the next few years, Bhagat would lose her eyesig­ht and enter a state of depression lasting for years together.

“I was in my second year of college. I was pursuing my graduation in advertisement and sales promotion and suddenly the world turned upside down for me when I lost my vision and was not able to read any text. The confidence in me was shattered as I moved from a person with ability to a person with disability,” Bhagat said barely holding back her tears.

Bhagat mentioned about her plans of doing her Maste­r’s in Mass Communication. She managed to complete her graduation but found it extremely difficult to get into a decent college with provision for the differently abled.

“I was not getting the subjects which I wanted to study,” said Bhagat. Ask her what she wanted to do and she responds with a smile, “Journalism”.

But all is not teary and tragic in Bhagat life these days. Fifteen years after she lost her vision, Bhagat now is the Project Manager of the National Cross Disability Program of Aarthastha, a non-government organisation working for the disabled. Bhagat also is a counsellor for the same organisation and spends her days counselling those who come to the organisation.

“When I go for a counsell­ing session, the first motivati­on for a disabled person is to be independent and have a ca­reer like everyone else.

Mo­re importantly, the family of such people get motivated as well and they too think that their child, brother or sister have a chance at a happy life,” she said. Prior to this Bhagat worked briefly as a financial analyst for a multinational company but soon quit her position to work as a social activist.

“I came to Delhi for rehab­ilitation as I was depressed for a long period of time. So­on, I realised it is not the end of the world. I could feel confidence seeping back in me and I felt more and more res­ponsible for thousands like me.

I felt the need to tell them that I am there for them and we can fight this together,” she said, adding that these da­ys she is a part of the campai­gn for the ‘Bill for the right of person with disabilities’.

“The Bill was passed but it was not in the same form as we created it. We want our Bill in the same way that we had presented it,” she added.

Beaming with pride, Bhag­at reveals how proud her parents and siblings are of her. “My parents were worri­ed about me all the time. Now when they come to see me he­re, I can feel how happy they are,” she says.

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