Respect regained - Santosh Devi

Santosh Devi 45 years old, lives in village Virodh, Block Mundawar of Alwar District, Rajasthan State. She lost her eye-sight at the age of 6, due to Smallpox. As she was a girl, at that time, no one paid any heed to get her treated for her affected eyes. No medical professional was consulted regarding her eye trouble, though she was taken to some quacks, obviously without any success. She had no choice, she had to live the rest of her life with blindness and depression.

And, sadly at home she was treated very badly and was considered capable of such simple tasks like washing clothes and utensils. She was not provided opportunity to learn any other house work. She was never taken to any social gatherings or functions and was completely neglected by her parents, while her younger sister was treated very well by the family.

Life went on amidst tears and sadness for Santosh, till the time came for the younger sister’s marriage. A suitable match was found for the younger sister and the wedding took place. And, then, shockingly, at the time of the send off of the bride, Santosh, the unwanted blind sister, was married off to her younger sister’s husband without her consent.

Santosh was shown no consideration in her new home either, as she was blind and was sent here, just as an add-on. Obviously, even her own sister did not like her. She was leading a miserable life. In due course, her sister had five children, while she had none. Santosh longed to have at least one child, someone in this big wide world to call her own, but her husband feared lest she should give birth to a blind child.

Under such dire circumstances, Santosh was fast sinking into deep depression. She was in this desperate condition when she was discovered by one of our field workers in the year 2004. Our field worker contacted her husband and tried to tell him about the benefit of training Santosh to become self-dependent as well as be able to earn something for herself and others. But, he did not pay any attention to what he was being told. He stuck to the view that blind women are useless, so Santosh will never be able to achieve anything.

However, our project staff continued their efforts to convince her husband by telling him, as well as showing him the progress of other blind people they had trained in and around their village. They eventually succeeded in persuading her husband to allow Santosh to receive training.

Hereafter, it took a total of 4 months to get her trained. She was given training in skills of mobility, self-dependence, social interaction etc. This gave her great confidence and boosted her self-esteem and motivated her to learn more and more.

Next she was counseled to start an income-generating activity, so that she could have some money of her own and contribute towards the family income. This would enable her to establish herself as a respected family member, she was advised. She instantly agreed to the suggestion and opted for taking on the job of rearing cattle, as she felt that would be very comfortable for her to do. She was given an interest-free loan of Rs. 18,000 in 2 installments, to procure buffalos and get started.

Santosh got down to her task of working with the cattle and today she has 2 healthy buffalos. She is doing well and is earning up to Rs. 4,000 per month by selling milk and other dairy products.

Santosh is now very happily busy with her household work, her buffalos and chatting with her neighbors in her free time. She is a changed person now, looking forward to a real bright future with her dairy farm growing and her income too with it. A brilliant smile lights her face now as she has earned the love and respect of her family and the community.