Chhitup Lama- a blind man who fought against all the odds!
India is a country with the largest number of blind people on the planet and yet how many of blind do you actually know about? Rarely any and even if you do the number won’t exceed 2. Imagine in the population of 8 million blind people- you only know one or two or may be none. Whether its ignorance or just a way of living that people socialize with similar ones doesn’t discard the fact that visually impaired people are somewhat left behind by us. Among such chaotic realms- talking about Chhitup Lama is itself an inspiring thing. Why? Because he fought against all the odds and brought the best example of strength and determination. While many of us tend to blame our disabilities for failures, this man turned his into an opportunity.
Chhitup is one of the most inspiring people you could ever met. Not because that he started an NGO called HEAD (Himalayan Education and Development) but because he initiated mobile blind schools in Nepal. The fact that he faced an enormity of challenges and yet stood head high is what makes him stand out in the crowd. Chhitup Dorji Lama is partially impaired since birth and was born in a small village Humla, Karnali Zone in mid-western Nepal. He grew up in a place where there was no formal education for visually impaired people. In fact, no one in the town knew about the language Braille so it was obvious that the place consist no trained teacher for the same. He struggled a lot during his childhood days. He knew nothing about braille thus he use to practice just like normal students using a scrap of wood painted black and scratching on with chalk, or even mud tablets scratched with a stick or branch. So his learning abilities were slightly withdrawn as no teacher paid attention to his need. Luckily, during his examination he was allowed to be assisted by sighted people who could help him write the paper and also because he is partially sighted- he somehow managed to adjust with the current system. But this wasn’t the case for the other blind students who struggled harder than him. Chhitup life took a turn when he went to Kathmandu for higher education and first learned about braille. He acquired a degree in braille and basic computer skills and then went on pursuing office management from Technical and Skills Development Center for the Blind and Disabled (TSDCBD). He also graduated in English literature and sociology. In 2010, Lama got an opportunity to have one year training program on social entrepreneurship at International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs (IISE) in Trivandrum, Kerala. Here he learned a lot about business and entrepreneurship. Aware about the lack of education for visually impaired people, Lama turned his knowledge into something more meaningful and build an organization HEAD in Nepal (Himalayan Education and Development). Humla is one of the poorest region in the world where education is a luxury and to challenge this- Lama has set up several schools in the region. Due to lack of electricity the students are unable to learn computer and as to fix this problem he decided on using solar panels for the energy. They train the blind children using the Universal Braille Kits (UBK), special learning materials formulated by Vidya Vriksha India which are distributed free of cost to blind children in the villages by the trainers. It also consist of educational software so that the students can get a sound knowledge of IT as well.
With this innovative approach, Lama’s step is a unique one in itself. His aim to upgrade the most underprivileged sector of the society (blind people) tells us how much concerned he is about the issue. Not just because he can connect with their problems but also because that he has measures to help them. Fortunately, we all have these measures and resources to help them and create a better place for visually impaired people but we certainly pay no heed to this. This should be improved and changed so that the world could become a better place for everyone despite of the disabilities they have.