Independence attained - Munnalal and Ganga Prasad


Graphic: Munnalal working in the field

We give below true life stories of a couple of individuals, who had lost all hope and zest for life because of the onset of blindness. Both of these men were in a state of total despair, completely confined to their small homes and dependent on others, when our field workers first met them. Gradually, through continuous motivation, they started regaining their lost confidence and undertook their journey back into independent living.

This individual is the resident of Village Sonarun Ka Purwa, Block Manjhanpur, District Kaushmabi. He lost his sight totally when he was about 35 years of age. As a result, he could no longer do any farming activity which was the only source of income for him. His wife had to go out and work on the land of others to earn a meager income to support the grief-stricken blind husband and three small children. When our field worker met Munna Lal, the man was in a state of complete isolation, dejection and desolation. As he narrated his woes to the field worker, tears continued to roll down his cheeks. In his desperation all that he begged was that he be provided help so that he could see again.

Our field worker consoled and counselled Munna Lal. He was informed about our project and how he could benefit from it. However, Munna Lal kept on pleading for help so that he could see again. For the treatment after loss of sight, his family had done all they could within their limited resources--use of herbs and local medicines, exorcising the devil at the hands of quacks and village sorcerers etc, but to no avail.

Then followed a few short sessions of interaction between the field worker and Munna Lal. The field worker suggested that Munna Lal should join the project and he would be provided all possible medical help, too, in his efforts to get his sight back. If these efforts succeeded, Munna Lal could continue his activities or even if sight was not restored, he could still be trained to lead his life with independence as he was doing prior to the onset of blindness.

Munna Lal was taken to an ophthalmologist who on examination of his eyes, told him that his blindness was caused by a severe injury to the eyes and was incurable. The field worker continued to counsel Munna Lal. The help and emotional support thus provided created feelings of trust for him and Munna Lal agreed to try out our training activities. The examples of other successful blind persons narrated to him further strengthened Munna Lal’s motivation.

Thus began the period of re-claiming Munna Lal, weaning him away from hopelessness and despair, through sessions of systematic training.

He was provided step by step practical training in orientation and mobility and daily living skills first. That he could perform some of his personal tasks himself stimulated him to come out of his shell and take to training more seriously.

Another two months of intensive training instilled such self-confidence in Munna Lal that he started returning to his land and do his farming work on his own. To his great delight, he found that he could look after his paddy crop himself and take up sowing and related activities.

Munna Lal was provided a loan of Rs. 7000 to enable him to purchase the necessary inputs like seeds, manure and some crop-related instruments to re-commence his farming activities. He started realizing that since he could be able to earn some money, his wife would not have to go out and toil on the farms of others. His wife joined him too in his paddy-related operations.

Munna Lal is, now, a small paddy farmer, capable of supporting himself and his family. His independent functioning has also helped to raise his profile in the eyes of the villagers

Ganga Prasad, 21 Years

Graphic: Ganga Prasad measuring the product in his shop

Graphic of Ganga Prasad measuring the product in his shop

A resident of Village Nizampur Naugeera, Block Sirathu, district Kaushambi, this young man lost his sight when he was 18 years old. During our field worker’s survey activity, he was informed by the village head that there was a young person in the area who was having to lead a life of total dependence because of his being blind. So, the field worker reached the young man’s house and saw Ganga Prasad coming out to meet him totally escorted by his mother.

The story of Ganga Prasad was not too different from the earlier one of Munna Lal, except that Ganga Prasad was studying in class 10 and was 18 years of age when he lost his sight. The cause was the same as in the earlier case— severe eye injury. Like Munna Lal, he too wanted help only to get his sight back. He, too, was totally dependent on his parents for doing even petty personal tasks.

Like Munna Lal, this young man was also advised to continue his eye-related treatment in which he would be provided all support from our side, since this was his overriding priority. The ophthalmic examination arranged by our field worker proved futile, since it was found that his blindness was incurable. This obviously came as a great shock to him. Ganga Prasad had the advantage of our field worker being by his side. The field worker instantly consoled him citing to him the examples of many other blind persons in the nearby villages who had attained success in life through the intervention and support from our project.

All this seemed nearly incredible to Ganga Prasad, to begin with. However, he was, somehow persuaded to undergo initial training in mobility and self-care. His morale and confidence received a sudden boost, as he found himself capable of moving around independently in the house and nearby areas and being able to perform some basic personal care activities on his own through initial training. So, bit by bit, Ganga Prasad started moving forward and taking interest in our other training activities.

He was provided systematic training, apart from daily living skills and mobility, in running a petty grocery shop. Thus, he was soon able to identify different grocery items, weigh them properly, identify currency notes and coins and interact with others coming to meet him. He was provided an interest-free loan of Rs. 10,000 under the project which was supplemented by another Rs. 3000 from the side of his parents and relatives. With Rs. 13,000 at his disposal, and with his self-esteem sizzling, Ganga Prasad enthusiastically set up the shop and got it running!

Today, the shop is doing well and is a popular place for people to come and purchase items of their daily use. He has achieved economic independence and is now a self-confident and respected member of the village community.