Fifty-year-old Vocational Rehabilitation Training Centre (VRTC) at Hambran Road for the blind and disabled is an institution with a difference where 'will power' and 'audaciousness' stands stronger than the disability they face.
As the HT Team visited this institution on Friday evening; thirteen blind girl students were busy in their dress rehearsal session for Giddha, which they will perform at the Republic Day celebration on January 26 to be held at their function hall in the institution. Out of the thirteen team members comprised between 15 to 17 years, eight will perform Giddha, four to sing boli's (Punjabi folk songs) and the one male team member will play 'dholki'.
All dressed in immaculate traditional colourful dresses with haute make up and ornaments and above all their high zeal and enthusiasm in their performance gives a vibe that their disability is meaningless for them.
"I am proud of the way they picked up all the steps and styles including the difficult ones in a short span of time. I must say that they are an inspiring example to the world as they are always set to do everything," said the sixty- year-old Gurdeep Kaur, head of education and culture, who is working at the institution from the last thirty five years.
Post their practice session, HT asked the Giddha team about their experience in performing Giddha and they unanimously said, "We feel highly gratified and we always look forward to such activities other than the education we receive here".
CS Ravindran, the newly appointed director of the institution shares that physically challenged and blind students strike a perfect chord with each other. He said, "They know about their disabilities and the daily challenges they face in their daily routine but they are always more than eager to offer help to each other." He further added, "Their unity is their strength and since they are ready to take every responsibility, it highlights their encouraging attitude towards life."
He also said that all students took keen interest not only in their education but in all the extracurricular activities such as debates, declamations, cultural activities and games and sports such as cricket, carrom, chess and shot put.
Words for the founder:
The institution was founded by Edward Martin Johnson in 1964. He was also blind, who passed away in 2005. For his inspiring contribution to the blind and disabled community, he was conferred upon National Award for the welfare of the handicapped in March 1988 by the then president and then a Punjab Sarkar Parman Patar in August 2003 by Punjab CM. Other than these two major honours, he has many awards and accolades to his credit. His wife Sarah Johnson, 70, who is currently looking after the institution with the newly appointed director who is her son-in-law provided her great support to her late husband.