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Sightsavers Reports

Chandrakumar’s passion for music

June 2014
Chandrakumar, who is blind, is sitting down with a musical keyboard on his lap. He is smiling.

When 18-year-old Chandrakumar heard that we’d arrived to meet him and take his photo, he dashed off to change out of his hoodie and into his best shirt.

As soon as we met him it was clear he was a very confident and happy guy with a passion for music.

Chandrakumar has been blind since he was six, after contracting hepatitis as a toddler, which caused his sight to gradually diminish. When his sight was eventually lost, he left school and was kept at home for the next seven years, which meant he missed a huge and important part of his education.

 

Chandrakumar is sitting down, playing music with 3 children dancing next to him.

Learning new skills for employment

From this point, his life could easily have become an illustration of missed opportunities and wasted potential. But a Sightsavers partner in Tamil Nadu, India, offered Chandrakumar the chance to catch up on his learning and gain skills to help him find a job. He was taught to read braille and use a cane, and given work experience at a local nursery so he could grow his own plants.

The part of the training he’s loved best is learning music – when we visited we were treated to a performance surrounded by everyone in Chandrakumar’s village. We asked him about his plans for the future, and he said: “I’d like my own band one day, but I need to build my own skills first. I’m very happy with what I have – now I know what opportunities there are for people with visual impairments.”

Living with a disability in India

You’d think it would go without saying that all young people with disabilities should have the chance to develop their talents and contribute to their communities like Chandrakumar, and to be as happy.

But he’s in a tiny, tiny minority; for millions of people living in developing countries, being taken out of school or not able to go in the first place because of a disability is one step on a long road of exclusion – from education, from community acceptance, from independence, from employment, and often from a fulfilled life.

As we left the village and headed back up the steep hill to our car, we were passed by a sprinting Chandrakumar, who raced ahead with his white cane so he could say goodbye again from the top of the hill. His energy and enthusiasm was infectious, and his future is in his own hands thanks to his training. That’s an opportunity everyone should have. Isn’t it?

 

Chandrakumar, who is blind, is sitting down with a musical keyboard on his lap. He is smiling.

“I’d persuade any teenagers in my situation to have the same training. It has given me so many opportunities.”

Chandrakumar, who is blind, is sitting down with a musical keyboard on his lap. He is smiling.

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