Two separate human chains, where people stood with their arm on the shoulder of the person in front of them and blindfolds on their eyes, could be seen negotiating traffic and potholes in the capital Thursday morning. Students and volunteers experienced a few minutes of “life without vision” at the ‘Blind Walk’, which was held to raise awareness about the problems faced by persons with visual impairment.
Organised by Bangalore-based NGO Project Vision to mark “World Sight Day”, the “World Blind Walk’ event was held in five countries — India, USA, Nepal, Sri Lanka and China — and covered 55 cities, according to former IAS officer KJ Alphonse, who was supporting the event. Delhi-based NGO Chetanlaya and YMCA organised the Delhi chapter of the event. Around 500 students from YMCA and Delhi University, volunteers from Holy Family Hospital and NGOs from across Delhi participated in the 1 km walk, which was flagged off from YMCA. Each line was led by a visually challenged person.
For the visually impaired, being able to lead a group of people who can see was an “exciting” experience. Akash (26), who suffers from partial blindness, said it was encouraging to find so many people come out in support of persons with disabilities. “Usually those who can see are the ones helping us walk. Today, we are leading them so they can see how we live,” said Akash.
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The walk ended with the students taking a pledge to donate their eyes after their death.
Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Krishnapal Gurjar was the chief guest at the event, which was also attended by religious leaders who encouraged people to donate their eyes as a noble deed.
While Swami Agnivesh rubbished the superstitions against eye donations, Faridabad Archbishop B Kuriakose said the “church and NGOs had a huge role to play” in creating opportunities and giving aid to those in need.
Supreme Court advocate S K Rungta, who suffers from total visual impairment, told the gathering to “treat the physically disabled as equals”. The lawyer, who is also associated with the National Federation for the Blind, said visually challenged persons “had the same drive to live and succeed as anyone else” and that impairment “was not a disability, it was only a need for a slightly different lifestyle”.
Using his his own life as an example, Rungta told the students that “the only difference” between a blind student and one who could see was that blind students “studied in Braille”.