A YES! (Youth Empowerment and Skills) course was conducted for twenty four visually challenged teenagers. Held in a rehabilitation centre in Mumbai, the course had a life-transforming impact on them.
Although united by a reality common to them all, these children came from varied walks of life. Belonging to different parts of Maharashtra, some of them were blind since birth while there were others who lost sight either partially or completely at a later age due to some ailments or retinal degeneration.
Most of these children were disoriented and gripped with a feeling of helplessness. Some youngsters even had mobility issues and were quite introvert. However, as the course progressed, they opened up and began to share.
The course helped them to be happier, more cheerful and build up their confidence level. It gave them a positive outlook towards life and equipped them with tools to calm their minds. They realized that being visually challenged is not an obstacle to growth. On the last day of the course, all of them even enacted skits and shared experiences.
Tabish, a 15 year old boy shared that the perennial headaches which he had, especially after getting up from bed in the mornings, disappeared after the first day of the course itself. His energy levels rose significantly and he felt more lively.
Talah, another teenager, though she could not see, shared that the way she sees life has changed.
The course helped Tushar improve his sleeping habits. He could now sleep more peacefully without thoughts or feelings crowding his mind. Many others felt a considerable improvement in their sleep patterns.
“Being visually impaired is not an impediment to growth. Surdas, a great saint of this country was visually impaired. Dhritarashtra was an emperor who ruled India and he too was visually impaired. Swami Shraddhananda, one of the great saints of this century was visually impaired. Always know that the Divine loves you. That is it!” says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. With that belief and trust the volunteers of Art of Living work continuously to empower them.
The course was held from 2nd to 5th of May 2012. Since then there have been regular follow-ups and courses over there.
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Writer: Asmita Aarshi, Graphics: Niladri Dutta