This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Javed Abidi Foundation. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How I Overcame Barriers In Education As A Visually Impaired Student!

More from Javed Abidi Foundation

My name is N. Vahneichhi, and people call me Vah Vah. I am a blind student from Mizoram and am doing my graduation at Christ university, BGR campus from the city of Bengaluru. 

Today, I am truly grateful to share my journey and hopes in life with you. I was born in 2000 in a village called Tuisih in the district of Siaha. I spent most of my early childhood days with my grandfather, who was a pastor for about 17 years. He would always show me the right ways that lead my life even today. 

I would just like to take a moment to give credit to him since he passed away last June. I will always miss him and follow the ways he taught me.

I lost my eyesight when I was about 8-months-old. Given that I was born in a village, my early childhood life was mostly lonely. I had no one to play with because I could not go where others would like to. Rather, I felt like I used to be considered a burden.

Anyway, this is just how I felt as a result of the way others treated me, which, somehow, affects my personality to date. Also, one other reason for me being a bit secluded (apart from my disability) maybe that our house was located at the hilly part of our village where I would stay home alone, while my grandparents would go farming day-in and day-out. 

Those days, there were only three institutions where persons with visually-impairments could have joined to study, and unfortunately, the number has now decreased to two for boys and only one for girls. 

I joined a school at the age of 6. It was 2006 when we got a letter advertising the Moriah Blind School in Aizawl, the state capital. On receiving the first letter, my mother refused to allow me to stay away from my family. However, when the second letter came home, my grandfather was able to persuade my mom into letting me go to school after he gave her a lecture about my future. 

Mom would tell me how Grandpa had explained that the pain of the present could be the gain of the future, and how I would just be like another burden for her in the future if not educated. Not only that, but he also spoke about how I may take care of her when she gets older if I am educated and get work. I would remember my grandfather telling me that he was unable to eat or drink for about two weeks when he dropped me to the blind-school at that time.

Picture of Vah Vah, the author of this article
Vah Vah, the author of this article.

I regret that he wasn’t with me even before I could tell him my result in the 2nd semester. I have been studying from grade 1, all the way till grade 6 in the same school. From grade 7 onwards till 12, I shifted to another hostel (the Salvation Army Home for the Blind), since in those days, this was the only hostel in the state to adopt the inclusive education model up until matriculation, wherein, we just stayed at the hostel, but also joint schools with sighted students. I did my grade 9 to 12 in St. John’s Higher Secondary School at Kolasib.

Actually, I would say that my journey in life truly started when I was in grade 7. That time, I began to think about where I stand and with my friends. One day, I overheard the comments of my classmates about me, mocking my poor English skills and discussing how I got the 13th position among the 15 students in the class. There onwards, my pride arose, a pride that holds me even today, which lets me possess an attempt to get a self-satisfactory position in everything I do. 

Starting then, despite receiving no textbooks in Braille (which is true even today), I started reading books voraciously. I brought books and a dictionary in class and read them every free period we got to improve my English. By the grace of God, I was able to finish matriculation at the first division and 12th in distinction.

I would remember the time when I was in grade 7, one of our seniors in the new hostel asked me my name in English. I just laughed back at him, because I had no clue what he said. That’s how bad my English was. Yet, after I read books voraciously with the help of dictionaries in class whenever I had free time, I felt more confident, and only by the grace of God, now I can confidently mix with others in Christ University, where I am the only person from Mizoram in my hostel. And more importantly, I gain some knowledge out of the practice. 

From grade 11 onwards, I really wanted Braille textbooks for visually-impaired students to read. In fact, I believe we understand how basic it is to get a textbook for a school-going student, yet receiving none. Thankfully, with the help of Dr Arun TIAS, who was the deputy commissioner of the district that time, and with the help from one of the priests (Brother George namely) in our school, we were able to get the textbooks on the subjects of English and history.

But, I am sad that students after my batch no longer have any textbooks for any more subjects. After I completed class 12 in St. John’s Higher Secondary School, I went to Bengaluru to prepare for further studies. I did a basic course on computers from Mitra Jyothi. While I was there, my local guardian suggested that I enrol myself in Christ University, wherein I am currently doing my graduation. 

There will always be a deep burn inside me when I think of all the bottlenecks blocking the way of many visually-challenged students in my state (especially girls). Till date, there is no properly-run Braille printing press. And, even worse, there are no textbooks in Braille for visually-challenged students. Because of this, I see many of my friends today stand in positions far, far lower than where they could have been. 

It has been my good fortune, the grace of God, and hard work put in by me and my mentors which has helped me reach where I am today. It is my dream to see other students with disabilities from my state not face the same hardships that I had to go through.

I hope to do some advocacy for my state so that the basic entitlements and rights for persons with disabilities are realised. To do this, I am working with the Javed Abidi Foundation (JAF), and with them, I have filed a Right to Information (RTI) Application. I have asked my State/Local Government for data on accessibility measures taken by them to make education accessible for people with disabilities. I hope I am able to achieve my goal! 

Note: This article is written by JAF volunteer N. Vahneichhi, who is a student at Christ University 

You must be to comment.

More from Javed Abidi Foundation

Similar Posts

By Sense International

By SGT University

By Arundhati Agomacharyya

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below