A visit that opened our eyes, moved us, left us speechless
Mid-career conferences are normally mundane affairs, but certain meets leave long-lasting impressions.
In May 2001, a regional conference to update certain aspects of disability evaluation and newer standard operating guidelines to take care of persons who were challenged physically, visually, mentally or hearing impaired was organised by the Rehabilitation Council of India at the Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh. The conference was attended by 100-odd participants, comprising doctors and administrators of the region. The first two days were reserved for lectures on the theme of the conference, while the third and final day was reserved for a field visit.
On the final day, our first stop was at the institute of the visually challenged, where we were received and ushered in by the principal. The students were being imparted vocational training so as to learn requisite skills to become self-sufficient. Their skilful mastery over Braille impressed one and all. The visit ended with a musical rendition by the students. As we were walking out, I was overwhelmed by the grit of the ‘enlightened’ minds. For them, life was all black but it was not dark as they had ‘illuminated’ it by cultivating ‘extra’ sensory perceptions and skills to pave the way for their day to day living. Instead of getting discouraged by their difficulties, they had triumphed over it with hope and determination.
After that we were taken to the Nevedac Prosthetic Centre, where the physically challenged, amputees or post poliotic patients were being rehabilitated. There were two youngsters who had recently lost their limbs in accidents and were being tested with prosthetic fits. Their world had come crashing down on their ‘feet’ literally. They were to gather all their determination to overcome the loss and be up and about. The centre had employees who were physically challenged and they were contributing in their own limited way and getting remuneration in return, to have some financial independence.
The next stop was at the institute of the hearing impaired. The conversation there was with sign language and that singular acquisition was now giving direction to the lives of the inmates there.
Finally, at the valedictory function in the evening, representatives of sub groups were to speak and they went on to cite the content of the lectures to arrangements to logistics etc. Our sub group representative’s turn came last and his brief remarks were, “Today’s visit to various centres opened our eyes, moved us and left us speechless.”
This was received with pin drop silence for a minute after he had finished as everyone felt thankful to the Almighty. The single-day experience of myriad emotions taught us to be kind, empathetic and to have an attitude of gratitude.
We hardly count our blessings and constantly complain about what we don’t possess. US radio host Woodrow M Kroll rightly said: “Concentrate on counting your blessings and you’ll have little time to count anything else.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has literally brought us to our knees and has re-emphasised that every breath is a blessing and we need to stay optimistic. We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses. The choice is ours. email@example.com
The writer is a Panchkula-based freelance contributor
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