Sight of Life

City-based Santosh Ramamurthy and his friends reach out to visually challenged students by writing their exams without a charge

Away from the struggling and career-oriented crowd, Santosh Ramamurthy is an example of a level-headed youth who not only believes in Mahatma Gandhi's words "Be the change you wish to see", but also acts on it. After reading an article in a newspaper about the lack of volunteers to write examinations for visually challenged students, Ramamurthy decided to reach out to them. In less than one hour's time, he sent out 130 text messages asking his friends to come forward and help visually challenged. 20 friends confirmed their participation. On November 27, this group of students from P V G College of Sciences, wrote exam papers for the visually-challenged. Today, this charitable group titled Blind Sight has 60 volunteers — right from Class 11 students to housewives.

At present the group has students from Wadia College, Fergusson College and Abasaheb Garware College. "The words and expression of gratitude the students offer after an examination is our remuneration. It is a blessing that we can be of help to the less fortunate," says Ramamurthy.

Nupur Rajopadhye, a student of MSC (computer science) of Modern College, says, "If my ability to read and write can boost someone else's future, then it is my responsibility to do so."

Currently Blind Sight, Ramamurthy's brainchild, is not a registered group or an NGO. It is just a group on Facebook where registration is not required. "The most memorable experience so far was the look into the students' eyes. They would not stop thanking me. These small gestures keep me and my friends going. These joys are hard to find in today's world," he says.

The University lays down certain rules for these volunteers who pose a problem for Ramamurthy as he looks after regulating writers, taking care of the language preferences and so on. "I need to ensure that I have back-up writers in case someone cannot make it. Besides, a writer cannot be a pass out of that particular stream, another rule that creates hassle. So far, the Pune University authorities have been very cooperative," says Ramamurthy, adding that sometimes even the family members and relatives of the people belonging to the group Blind Sight have come forward to write exams.

Though Ramamurthy and his team do not have a long-term plan as yet. "I would like to keep doing this for as long as possible," says Ramamurthy.

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