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TBI Blogs: Meet Anirudh and Riya, the Two Volunteers on a Mission to Improve the Life of a Partially Blind Girl

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Volunteers Anirudh and Riya chanced upon Devika while on a regular volunteering assignment. This is their story – a journey of love, affection, and resolve to get the little one all that she deserves!

In the Kunchikorve community located in Santa Cruz, one can find a thin little girl dressed up in a red frock. Around 6-7 years old, she stands in a lane and looks at other kids playing. She seems disturbed, lonely and timid. On further inquiry, one gets to know that her name is Devika.

Found during one of the enrollment drives done by CRY volunteers to ensure betterment of children in slums, Devika was one of the many kids whom the volunteers came across. She appeared lonely, standing quietly and not talking to anybody. The volunteers tried to interact with her, but during the conversations with the volunteers, she either looked down or tried to run away, most probably due to mistreatment or depression. She was scared, and every stranger scared her too much to converse properly. Even after many inquiries, the volunteer could only get her name.

She did not react at all about anything, and eventually the volunteers lost her in the dingy lanes of Santa Cruz.

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A volunteer with Devika and her mother

After a few months, the volunteers made inquiries regarding the child in the community, with the only information they had acquired – the name. They found out that she was a special child who suffered from Partial Blindness, which made it difficult for her to attend normal school. Her disability was the burden which made her lonely and introverted, and isolated her from the rest of the children. In her family, she has her mother, father, and a younger brother. Her parents wished their child to be educated and independent, but due to limited information, they were helpless regarding how to go about it. Her mother had accepted her fate, and could only weep for her child.

To help Devika, two CRY volunteers, Anirudh Chaudhary and Riya Lakhmani, completely involved themselves in the process of getting her enrolled in a school to help her get educated. They both devoted their time after college hours to arrange appointments and take follow-ups to different educational institutions. It was a tenuous job, but their persistence helped them fetch some appointments. Devika’s mother Kiran says,

“We had accepted that our child is not normal and will never be able to lead a normal life. But when I saw these two volunteers ready to charge of her, I got hope that things would fall in place and she would get educated enough to at least become self-dependent. Now I can hope that my child will be able to see as well as lead a normal life, and this thought itself makes me very happy.”

The volunteers also approached NAB (National Association for Blind) to get help enrolling Devika in a school. During one of the sessions, they learned that she was suffering from malnutrition and weakness along with Partial Blindness. She was also an introvert, and not comfortable with unknown people. They enrolled her in one of their centres to overcome this shyness and get along with people more efficiently. They also asked her parents to get her an Aadhar Card and do a vision test. The volunteers accompanied them to the Aadhar Card Centre. Since Devika’s eye lenses had a problem , it was very difficult to do her iris recognition, and also to detect her fingerprints. Anirudh says,

“Some relationships are beyond the mere exchange of words. This journey has given me a little angel for whom my love has no bounds, and for whose happiness I can do anything.”

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Anirudh in one of his regular visits to the slum

Through the interactions with Devika in their appointments, guiding her, and assisting her in every stage of her admission, Anirudh has developed a strong bond of affection with her. Watching her learn to read and write at this pace has given him contentment which no one can define or explain with words.

Devika continues to amaze her teachers and her parents by learning at a tremendous pace. Today, she is a cheerful and a confident child, and a different person altogether. During the vision test, doctors found that just one operation could cure her visual impairment.  Now, finally, the efforts of her family and the volunteers seem to be bearing fruit. Devika will soon undergo an operation and hopefully will be able to see the world that lies ahead of her. The volunteers will be with her and her family during this arduous journey—till she starts flying like other kids her age.

Note: The author has changed the child’s name to respect her privacy.

CRY volunteers are diverse: age-wise, background-wise, and interest- and skill-wise. That diversity adds depth and reach to our efforts and impact. They are our everyday heroes! Join us.

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CRY – Child Rights and You is an Indian NGO that believes in every child’s right to a childhood – to live, learn, grow and play. For over 30 years, CRY and its 200 partner NGOs have worked with parents and communities to ensure Lasting Change in the lives of more than 2,000,000 underprivileged children, across 23 states in India. For more information please visit us at www.cry.org