Life did not stagnate for 72-year old T N Prabhakar, blind-by-birth, and today, the Chairman of Saibaba School for the Blind at Narasipur in Medak District, Telangana. With astonishing will power, he has defied all barriers that come with being visually-challenged, and established a school for the blind, Two years old, the school gives free education to 30 children from surrounding hamlets and has left an indelible footprint on the community.
RC Chandapur, RI District 3150, recently honoured him with the Vocational Excellence Award for his exemplary service in education. “This is our way of saluting this man who has risen above a huge challenge, to light up the lives of other visually challenged children with the precious gift of knowledge to completely change their lives,” says Subrahmanyam Reddy, the club President.
Trudging through a path strewn with lots of hardships, Prabhakar went on to become a teacher, a profession he pursued for 18 years before retiring in 2006. “My visual impairment was a huge hindrance to get proper education, which I realised is the most powerful weapon to overcome disability. Through this school I want to convince sightless children that their condition is not hopeless,” he says.
Post retirement, serving as President of the Blind Welfare Association, he extended help to the visually-challenged by helping them get pensions, bank loans to buy cattle or set up shops or for agricultural activities. “My wife and two daughters gave me the idea to establish the school and it came up in 2012,” he said. His elder daughter, Venkatramanalakshmi, is presently the school’s vice principal.
The village Sarpanch provided the building rent-free for a few months. Out of his Rs 30,000 monthly pension, Prabhakar contributes Rs 25,000 for the school. Rotary clubs and other philanthropic organisations provide support with cash or kind, and his son-in-law also provides substantial monetary and material support.
The school, initially begun with one student, Nagaraj, today has classes I to VI and a hostel. Lessons are free and imparted in Braille in Telugu medium. Lessons in music, karate and furniture-making, along with character-
building, are given here. “Dad never observes any bias in admissions in the school,” says Venkatramanalakshmi.
“He is our inspiration and has set an example not only for us but also for our children to follow,” she proudly adds.
“Aadmi ko athma vishwas se kadham badaana chahiye,” (One needs self-confidence to take each step forward) says Prabhakar on this exclusive school.