“Grab opportunities & go for it”- My take by Madhu Singhal
Madhu Singhal is the founder of Mitra Jyothi, an NGO that empowers people with disabilities. Madhu, who is visually impaired, focuses her work mainly in promoting education and generating job opportunities for people with disabilities. She has won numerous awards for her contribution towards empowering disabled people. One amongst them is the National Award for the Empowerment of people with disabilities in the year 2008.
I was born and brought up in Haryana. When I was hardly two months old, my mother realised that I had a vision impairment. During those days, no schools offered inclusive education. So my mother arranged a teacher for me who used to come home regularly. I learnt the Braille as well as other lessons.
During those times, people never saw a disabled person beyond their disability. But my mother was persistent. She wanted me to complete my education. Upon her insistence, I was admitted to a mainstream school when I was in class 8. She assured the school officials that I can do my best. But the question was, what after school? I also completed my post graduation in Hindustani music.
Founding Mitra Jyothi to empower the disabled community
I visited Bengaluru because my sister was staying here. By chance, I happened to start Mitra Jyothi in the city. I was financially stabled and hence could afford to start Mitra Jyothi. Thus began my journey towards empowering the community.
“I want to work for people with all kinds of disabilities. But my main focus is on the visually impaired community. We have started numerous programmes to empower them. Our free hostel facilities are for those visually impaired people who are beating odds to complete education”.
A true leader for people with disabilities
I was a member of the National Federation of the Blind. I later went on to become the member of World Blind Union and Asian Blind Union as well. That way, I could reach out to more people and help them in many ways. I always wanted to focus on visually impaired women. So I have conducted many workshops and seminars across the world.
“There are many disabled people who have a self-pity owing to their disability. I don’t think anyone needs to have that. The society even today calls us specially abled and people who are physically challenged. Just because we have a disability, it does not make us different from any others. You can call me a blind person. That is completely fine”.
I want visually impaired people to come out of their homes and stop complaining about what they do not have. Grab opportunities and go for it. Currently, I’am not planning to expand Mitra Jyothi to other cities. But I want to spread my message towards empowering disabled people to all parts of the world.
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