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Worthy substitutes


WAYS TO serve the physically challenged are innumerable. And, it is not necessary that one can deliver only by joining some organisation. All that one needs is a willing heart and a mind with a bent of service. Also in what way one wants to serve them doesn't matter as long as the desire to help people with disabilities is genuine.

The toughest challenge for visually impaired students perhaps is to write their exams. There are several noble-hearted people, who act as scribes for the visually impaired candidates, and help them write their exams.

Rani Krishnamurthy and her friends, belong to this clan, who render scribe services for many blind students appearing for various examinations.

It all started 10 years ago, when she came to know the plight of blind students in writing examinations, through a visually impaired person.

"The pity is that sometimes the process of finding a scribe takes a lot of time affecting their study time. As a result, their performance in the examination takes a beating", says Mrs. Rani.

While self-determination gripped her to take on the mission, Rani also successfully inspired several of her friends to take up this service.

Despite her sincere efforts, there is still a dearth of scribes. Many of her colleagues have also moved to other cities or withdrawn themselves from the service owing to work and family compulsions.

But such stumbling blocks do not deter Rani. She continues the service with much grit and whatever is the available number of service-minded persons.

However, she is very grateful and overwhelmed by the commitment of some of her friends. "Vasanthakokilam and Vaidyanathan, despite nearing 60 are very active scribes and still lend their hand to many students", she says fondly of this couple.

"Even today, they regularly visit the OCPM School and render all possible help to the blind students", informs Mrs.Rani with much pride. In the same vein she talks of another septuagenarian who apparently after seeing a news item in the paper approached her. "Though he is 72, he wants to actively participate in this service and makes it a point to call me regularly when exams are around," she says happily.

There were other volunteers like Mr.Hari who was a scribe offered yet another valuable service like dropping the scribes at the respective examination centres.

A Law graduate and currently employed in Chennai, he unfailingly provided his vehicle for a punctual pick-up and drop-back of these aged scribes.

This gesture undoubtedly made things easier as the city has 10 such examination centres and the farthest being in Madurai Kamaraj University.

Then there are the likes of Mrs.Anandhi who refuse to give up hope and continue to garner as much support. "She brings me as many scribes as she can,'' says Mrs.Rani with an underlying sense of pride.

Another unique service which this small circle of like-minded and service-oriented people render is to lend their voice for recording of study materials in cassettes.

Though many, it seems, are ready to do the work of recording study materials in cassettes but are not able to come to out of their houses owing to various reasons. In such cases, the students themselves provide the empty cassettes and the study materials and later on completion of the work, the students come and collect the cassettes back.

For those who might be eager to join such a service, Mrs.Rani says there is "no basic education criterion".

According to her, "just writing knowledge of a language is enough because they are going to write what the candidates tell them".

But sadly, there is a misconception among many wannabe scribes that only those good at English and Tamil can perform better. But, Mrs. Rani puts such doubts to rest and asserts that "mastery over any language has nothing to do with the service." "We ask our candidates to come fully prepared for the examinations so that the scribes can easily note down their answers without losing time" she underlines.

The service rendered by Mrs. Rani and her friends may not be a widely publicised one. But over the years, they have been silently working their way in order to create a new horizon in the life of those for whom the world around is dark.

Those interested to join Rani and her friends in this noble task can dial: 2640170.

M.R. ARAVINDAN

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