We come accross ordinary people who go the extra mile and do some extraordinary things. Once such person is Mr. Ch.Nagaraju. The other aspect of this person is that he is also visually blind.
In spite of his lack of eyesight, he has not only worked his way to a bachelors degree and ability to support himself, but also has shown leadership skills and independence that we find in very few people.
Due to the lack of a school for the blind in the entire district of Srikakulam, he had to go through a lot of trouble to study in West Godavari district. Having succeeded, he is determined to make the path easier for others in Srikakulam district. Briefly, I am describing a few actions he has taken just in the past few months. They need our support to take the work forward.
(1) He went out to find other visually handicapped people in Srikakulam, and started a federation for the blind. A couple of months ago, he organized a meet of visually handicapped, involved the media to publicize the event, and was able to gather about 50 people who then became members of the federation. This was the first event in the district organized by the blind themselves.
(2) Instead of depending on charity services, he is fighting to get what is due from the government. They met the Asst Director of handicapped services several times and urged him to start a school for the blind and extend other basic services properly. As they were not satisfied with the pace of response, the group directly met the Collector and gave him a detailed petition with 5 demands. Immediately, there has been movement from different departments to be more cooperative.
For example, it used to take more than 6 months for a person to get a visually-handicapped certificate! Now, with this group’s initiative, it is ready within a week! Much more action is needed from the government of course, and they are constantly doing the rounds of the govt offices.
(3) One immediate aim is to start a school for the blind. The government has said that if there are enough visually handicapped students in the 6-15 age group, they will try to start a school. Nagaraju and his group are now keen on doing field work visiting every Mandal and panchayat and enumerating the blind people with all details.
(4) They have also made connections with similar groups in other districts, including Hyderabad. He was here for 2-3 weeks along with another associate to make connections with the blind people from Srikakulam who are in Hyderabad for various reasons. He has enlisted their help in following up with the Commissioner in Hyd regarding various tasks.
(5) Now, they are on their way to start an office in Srikakulam town, and with a team of 3 visually handicapped (all working voluntarily without pay) and a couple of helpers with eyesight, they plan to visit each Mandal and do extensive fieldwork. They would also like to start off a school themselves in a couple of months, and then pressure the government to make it a government school.