Dharam Pal
Age: 26

“I joined The Blind Relief Association in 2011. I underwent training in operating the Inside Threading Machine (ITI) that’s used to make parts of a camera. I also received training in massage, and computers, but I stuck with operating ITI. Though, I haven’t had a permanent or stable job despite my training. I was called back to the association to help out with making candles sold at the fare (popularly known as the Blind School Mela in Delhi) every year. I come here for a few hours, and punch holes in these circular metal sheets. On an average I punch about 1,500-2,000 pieces every day. I earn 15 paise per piece.

“I completed my graduation in Hindi (H) from Delhi University. I’m not so sure about whether or not I’ll pursue my Post Graduation. There are days when I’m determined to study B. Ed (Bachelors of Education) and land a stable teaching job. I am also an athlete. I am very fond of playing discus.

“I think education is rather important. It opens up our mind and helps in our personal and professional growth. It also helps us log on to a computer and consume global news on the internet. I also access Facebook, WhatsApp with the help of a software that reads out to me and pronounces alphabets or words that I punch in with the keyboard.

“I could see till I was about 15-years-old and then suddenly everything turned dark one fine day. Just like that. The doctor told me that my retina had gone bad and that no lenses or surgeries could help me. You know, the worst of it all is accidentally bumping into women and listening to “batameez”. Then I have to explain to them, tell them you could’ve avoided it since you can see. This one time a young woman slapped me while traveling in a local train, I slapped her back. I could tell she was young because she had a cute voice; aged people usually have a held-back sort of a voice. Without exchanging a word or another slap, she got off the train at the next stop and I carried on in the train. I can’t see, but you can, everybody else can. We have to depend on people like you for support. Even to cross a road, I have to ask for help. Not too many people come forward themselves. If I don’t seek help, I won’t move for hours. It’s not easy!”

– As told to Tania Goklany. She met Dharam Pal at The Blind Relief Association in Delhi.

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