Mahesh hails from Bhiyasar, a remote desert village in the Jodhpur district of Rajasthan. The harsh and sandy climate of this village, and the fact that it’s 180 km away from the nearest town, has kept education out of reach for most children. And even more so for disabled children like Mahesh who suffer from blindness at the age of 10, was denied admission because the teachers said their school lacked the resources to cope with such children.
Mahesh was confined to his home, despite the fact that both his parents were teachers (they did not protest the school’s decision believing, like most people in their community, that the local education system could not cater for children with disabilities).
When Sightsavers and its local partners conducted a baseline survey for an inclusive education project in the region, Bheem Singh, a local teacher, brought Mahesh’s case to their attention. Despite initial resistance from the school authorities, Bheem Singh and his colleagues succeeded in getting Mahesh admitted to the school. A detailed individual education plan was then prepared to ensure that Mahesh would have access to all the assistance he required to reach his full potential.
Today, Mahesh’s success story has spread far beyond his remote village. He has mastered Braille; he uses other assistive technologies and secured more than 70% in his Rajasthan State Government exams. The same headmaster who had earlier denied him admission now says he is proud to have Mahesh as a student.
Not a single blind child should be out of school. Education is the only way to get the lost vision back
Mahesh’s story has not only inspired his visually- and non-visually impaired peers into believing that they, too, can succeed with determination, but also motivated the parents of children who suffer from blindness or other disabilities to fight for their right to a full education.
Rightly proud of his achievements, Mahesh wants to become a teacher when he grows up, and is passionate about the rights of disabled children. “Not a single blind child should be out of school. Education is the only way to get the lost vision back.” Mahesh is also immensely grateful to his teacher for the role he has played; “Without the support of my teacher, Bheem Singh, it would have been impossible.”
Mahesh’s success story is a great example of the force of empowerment and liberation that education can wield. It shows how children who suffer from blindness can become a transformative force in the community, especially for those are being deprived of their rights.