Ram Ghodke (25) has been visually challenged from birth. After finishing his schooling at Happy Home School for the Blind in Worli, he was worried about how he would cope at college. “Much as I’d like to believe I am as normal as anybody else, the fact is that I have a severe disability,” Ghodke says candidly.
Soon, Ghodke fell into a happy routine attending most lectures, bunking some, whiling away time in the college canteen. All this, thanks to his friend Nitin Jadhav (26).
Jadhav started by reading aloud his notes for Ghodke, and then went on to read out many books too. “Through the reading we developed a strong friendship over the years. Now Ram has graduated and works for a call centre and doesn’t need help with studies. But our equation hasn’t changed,” said Jadhav.
Not everyone is as fortunate as Ghodke, though. “I had to waste one year in college as I couldn’t find a writer to write my MA in Philosophy exam,” said Santosh Patil, who hopes to take the exams next year.
Parimala Bhat (50), who took her BA exam nearly 30 years ago, was luckier. “It is frustrating when your performance in an exam partly depends upon your writer. So it’s vital to have a good rapport with your writer.” The psychology graduate, who has a master’s degree in Social Work, found great support in Suvrata Samant (52).
“Initially I used to meet her to read to her. Today, our friendship has gone beyond just helping each other,” says Samant.
Friends for the last 34 years, the two women frequently attend picnics and social gatherings. “Even today if I have to send a mail or write a letter, I dictate it to Suvrata,” says Bhat.
Samant was also with Bhat when, in 2001, she started Snehankit Helpline, a non-profit organisation for visually impaired students. “This helpline is to ensure that those who want to study don’t have to give up for want of a writer or reader. We provide volunteers,” says Bhat. “She may lack sight, but she truly has a vision that has helped thousands of students.”
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