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Posted at: Oct 25, 2015, 12:31 AM; last updated: Oct 25, 2015, 12:31 AM (IST)

Lighting up lives

Lighting up lives
Tiffany Brar can look into darkness, find rays of hope and illuminate the lives of people who need it the most. Photo: Parvesh Chauhan

Jasmine Singh

A subtle red plazzo suit, hair touching her shoulders, a smile that translates into ‘ready for a new experience’—assisted by a beautiful relative, Tiffany Brar secures her place on a red chair. She places her hand softly in ours, a formal run of introduction, and the girl is all set to make you see more than what a pair of eyes can do.

If anything is a deterrent here, it is our little knowledge of Tiffany, not her visual impairment, for she definitely sees more than she would want to. And she definitely hears more than we do.

“You know, I was just asking my father where is the nearest auto or bus stand in Sector-5 because everything is so silent here,” a soft smile clung on to her face, as she stands explaining the why of it. “I didn’t ask about it last time, when I was visiting Chandigarh. It’s Jyothirgamaya which has made me inquire about it.”

The conversation finds itself drifting to Tiffany’s Jyothirgamaya, and talking about it pulls you into a world, you wouldn’t have ideally peeped into. This is a world that leads you to light, “This is what Jyothirgamaya means,” shares Tiffany., who is based out of Kerala.

Jyothirgamaya Foundation helps to create a barrier-free environment for the visually impaired, empowering them to use their potential, contribute and also at the same time be at the forefront of society.

“Blind people are generally made to live in darkness; they are assigned to the four walls. Through Jyothirgamaya, we try to give them new insights, a sense of a new inner light,” she talks chirpily and yet seriously about it.

With its training centre in Thiruvanthapuram, Jyothirgamaya also has a mobile school for the visually challenged. “When people can’t come to us, we take the school to them,” adds the girl who would lay her hands on romance, fiction audio books whenever she has time.

Tiffany sways her head, letting her smile take the form of a laugh, “I love to read real life stories, something like The Inheritance of Loss,” she makes reading possible through NVDA format!

There is much that Tiffany is doing for the visually challenged in Kerala, though if she had funds she would like to take the programme to every corner of the country.

Starting from how Jyothirgamaya helps the visually impaired through the orientation and mobility programme, wherein the visually challenged are taught indoor mobility, outdoor mobility through the white cane. Basic and advanced computer knowledge, a known-how of access technology available on android phones are also part of the programme. They take them out for movies, for horse riding under the Road to Independence training camp. But all this is only possible, when Tiffany and other volunteers are able to successfully cross the biggest challenge. “Even a 30-year-old visually challenged is dependent on his or her parents, so convincing the parents stands as the biggest test, once they invest their faith in us, we make sure it is kept for ever,” she talks animatedly, throwing insight into what she would want to do more. A hostel for five girls and three boys is what Tiffany would be doing next.

Life is beautiful, and not getting to see the lavish spread of colours doesn’t lessen her morale one bit. In fact, she is in love with just about everything, the honking of buses in Kerala, the wafting smell of fish, the sound of flute, the warmth of her colleagues, the support of her friends, the presence of her father, the music forwarded to her by her late mother…

Tiffany loves and accepts existence, whether it is life, or death. “Yes, my mind drifts here and there sometimes, I think of people who are begging on streets, people who haven’t got any support. And I pray to god that if he has placed me in this position for some purpose, he might as well help me achieve it. We live, and one day we would die. But while at it, how about peeping into the dark, finding a light, a meaning, and moving towards it?”

jasmine@tribunemail.com

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