#CelebratingGirlPower- Visually impaired teacher Smitha Titus believes key to success is within yourself
In our final story for monthly feature #CelebratingGirlPower, today we have 39-year-old Smitha Titus, a visually impaired assistant teacher at the government school for visually impaired at Trivandrum in Kerala. A disability is no barrier for Smitha to achieve her dreams. Also a singer, Smitha is truly unstoppable.
A visual impairment by birth, struggle to complete education, jobs at different cities and now teacher at a prominent school for the visually impaired in Kerala’s state capital, Smitha Titus proves that if you have the will, there is a way. As Smitha gears up for a new chapter of her life to get married to her love next month, she talks about how life was never a cakewalk, but she always made the best out of it.
Smitha’s journey towards completing education
Smitha was born and raised at Chavara, a small town in Kollam. She was born with a visual impairment, but her family did not have any awareness and hence did not know how to reach out to her.
They happened to come across a group of teachers from ‘Light to Blind School’, a school for people with visual impairment. One of the teachers convinced her parents to send Smitha to their residential school so that she could complete her studies without hassles. After much speculation, her parents decided to send her there. Though Smitha, who was hardly five years old at that time was scared to stay away from parents, they knew what was best for her. Thus began Smitha’s journey to the world of education.
“I remember how I used to cry asking my parents not to abandon me at the school. Gradually, I started getting used to the new place and friends. So I used to cry when my parents came to pick me up for vacations”, she says. According to Smitha, during those days, putting a disabled child was challenging not just to the child but parents as well. “People around us told all sorts of things. They mocked my parents and told them that they pushed me away. But I must say that admitting me to the school was their best decision”, adds Smitha.
After completing class 8 at the school, she returned back to her home and started pursuing further studies at a regular school nearby. Smitha’s education till degree course was completed along with students without any disabilities. “Nowadays, visually impaired students have many facilities, thanks to technology. During my time, it was a struggle. It was hard for other students to accept me. I have underwent many troubles and was affected mentally too. I used to take out all that anger to my parents while at home”, says Smitha who adds that her pre-degree days were the best. “It was a golden period. I was like a butterly, flying around with friends and everyone accepted me. They identified my love towards music and supported me. All those months, I never knew what sadness was. I overcame depression during that time”, remembers Smitha.
Tough times ahead
After completing education, Smitha was determined to get a job. She joined the call center at National Institute of Visually Handicapped where she was a part of for over four months. After that, she participated in a few television phone-in-programs. Her sweet voice was an added benefit. Later, she worked with the Goodwill Foundation of India and was part of vocational training programs there.
Smitha worked with a private school for more than two years before joining for a medical transcription course. In the year 2010, she got married but ended it in 2014 due to various reasons. Over time, Smitha has shifted cities too.
Living life to the fullest
Smitha has been working in her current job as an assistant teacher for the past six years. Her talents in music was identified by one of her teachers at the Pothanikkad rehabilitation center where she was part of for many years. “Rama teacher told me that I have skills for music and my journey with music began from there. In fact, being part of that rehabilitation center helped me to become independent. Today, I can travel to any part of the world on my own. I could become more independent”, she says.
Smitha is stepping into a new chapter in her life. She is getting married in November to the love of her life and is busy preparing for it. “Opportunities and platforms have never come easy to me. But I learnt to ask doubts to myself and clear them somehow. I found out answers. Even if you don’t have someone to rely on, motivate yourself. The key is within you”, signs off Smitha.
Watch in Sign Language
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