Sr. No. 203 – I made a mistake when I met Mohammad. Will tell you about it. Read on….

Mohammad Iqbal Khan Jan 1 2017
Sr. no. 203
 
Iqbal Mohamad Khan (Visually impaired, aka blind; Jobless)
 
I made a mistake when I met Mohammad. Will tell you about it. Read on….
 
Seven years ago, he lost his eyesight within a few weeks when he suffered from Cerebral atrophy / It is a common feature of many of the diseases that affect the brain. It can happen to anyone. Anyone.
 
Mohammad was working as a Videographer (Cameraman) with Bloomberg channel then. After he lost eyesight in both eyes within a few months seven years ago, Bloomberg paid for his medical rehabilitation and healthcare. His wife abandoned him soon after, and re-married someone else. His own family looked after him thereafter, but after a few years they too told him he must now manage on his own as they have their own family to support financially.
 
He was of the opinion that he should not and cannot blame them for abandoning, not supporting him forever, or for longer, after all it is really challenging or impossible for most people to look after someone for so long and or forever. He needs to find a job as soon as possible, before he loses hope completely.
 
Jobless, homeless and penniless, Mohammad has been provided temporary shelter by some religious institution, or religious person, I am not really sure, but I know a stranger he approached for help has allowed him to live with him or their religious institution.
 
Mohammad Iqbal is doing this computer literacy course because he believes it can help him navigate the largely digital world that we have become, and thus help him secure his first job after his world went completely dark seven years ago. Now that he cannot operate the camera anymore, and is nearly 45 years old and jobless, he needs to update at least his digital skills and that may help him land a job that can return to him at least his financial independence.
 
Thank you Akshita, Ankita, Priyanka, Ishani, Suman, Ritu, Amit, Niraj, Minnie, Ameya, Manjari, Brijesh (and myself) for assisting yet another visually impaired person receive a government and corporate world recognized certification in computer literacy.
 
I made a mistake when I met Mohammad. After we finished our conversation, as I was leaving the institute’s library I was lost in my own fears – “… what if someday I lose my eye sight and all those who I love and know abandon me…”
 
I did not see that Mohammad had put his arm out to shake my hand. It was the computer lab professional Sonal who told me politely “Sir, he wishes to shake your hand and say thank you.” I felt I was the blind one here, insensitive to not having seeing our beneficiary’s gratitude. I was walking away without giving him the opportunity to acknowledge his gratitude beyond a verbal thanks. It is a lesson to me that I must wait to shake the hand of every single person we assist hereafter. Akshita, Ankita, Priyanka, Ishani, Suman, Ritu, Amit, Niraj, Minnie, Ameya, Manjari, Brijesh, I shook his hand warmly on all your behalf. When I had met him a few minutes ago, his hand had felt cold. Maybe because it was January 1st, a cold winter afternoon. But now it felt warm.
 
Ankita. I learnt a lesson when I met him, something that I noticed you did when you had met visually impaired Devaka, you had reached out and held her hand before we left. It’s so important that we acknowledge their acknowledgement of us.
 
I posted a black and white photo of our beneficiary, because that’s how it must be for some visually impaied people, without color.
 
(Brief history of our tiny endeavor:
 
My 12 friends and I decided to assist two visually impaired adults achieve ‘computers and online-world literacy’ by paying their course fees for the same every quarter. We hope to assist two more students when their next batch begins after three months, and do this for one year from Nov 2107 to Oct 2018.
 
We believe, that by helping the differently abled, however tiny be our ways of assistance, we will understand better not just their needs but also help us understand abled humans, social life and our world in which digital technology is going to play a bigger and bigger role. And so, our role in the lives of the differently abled should increase correspondingly.
 
We are simply hoping the tiny assistance we are providing them will help the visually impaired secure better livelihood opportunities, including more secure jobs with the government that offers provident fund, pension etc. Also, it will give them the sense of ‘…. someone cares for us.’- that by itself is a big motivator.
 
The government recognised MS-CIT ‘computer training’ course for visually impaired is conducted at The Victoria Memorial School for the Blind, Tardeo: http://www.mkcl.org/msciti
 
Thanks to my acquaintance in the UK, Herminder Kaur, we found out that unequal access to information technology (computers and the internet) and the online world brings about unequal participation of the differently abled and the visually impaired. A computer literacy certification program, particularly one recognized by the government of India, can certainly help the less privileged in our country, especially the visually impaired (blind), have some more power over their perceived shortcomings, circumstances, disabilities.
 
They only needed help to live in their immediate surroundings. Now, the differently abled need our assistance to even access even the online-world. So, the need for more equal access to the internet, the world online, is becoming more and more important for differently abled people who are already facing challenges of social exclusion and the issue is being treated as ‘a civil rights issue’ in the developed and developing world.
 
Adds Herminder Kaur, “In the West, as more and more services move online, there is a need to recognise how people with disabilities are unable to access or use these services and therefore how this results in double exclusion – offline and online. By recognising the issue as a right – we can appreciate that it is essential for service and technology providers and regulators to do more to ensure every citizen is an equal participant/user of the medium.”)
 
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