Visually impaired turns refractionist - LabourNet

M Joshi

“For a long time I have had problem with my eyesight, but my family didn’t pay heed as they were too busy trying to make ends meet and put food on our plate,”  says Mittagadapala Joshi. But that didn’t deter her from pursuing her dreams of standing on her feet and earning a decent livelihood. Mittagadapala Joshi is 24 years old hailing from a small town called Janagaon in Telangana. Joshi’s parents were daily wage earners and the family income was only INR 5000 every month.

After completing her 12th standard she could not pursue her studies further because of the death of her parents in an accident. She lived alone with her brother. Life was tough as they only had each other for support. Every day she would wake up and think about her and her brother’s future. Her brother was younger and was dependent on her. “My life was terrible. I had a brother to look after”, says, Joshi, her voice going heavy with emotion.

Her other family members comprise of her relatives from her father’s side. Unfortunately, they didn’t come to her assistance. The only thing Joshi’s relatives did was taunt her in every possible way. “No one cared about my vision problem. I suffered a lot because of it. Moreover, my relatives will always be there to taunt me on something or the other”, she laments.

Very soon Joshi got married with a person her relatives chose for her. Her marriage fell apart in a short while as her husband did not accept her as a good life partner due to her vision problem. He regarded her as a bad omen in his life. He regretted looking after Joshi’s brother too and treated him like a burden.

After the separation, Joshi was left with her brother to look for as a ray of hope. She wanted him to complete his studies and be able enough to earn a living for himself in the future. For this to happen, money was necessary. There was no earning member in the family, so Joshi started to do some odd jobs in her neighbourhood that could keep them fed once a day. After a few months, she came to know about LabourNet’s program on Optometry from one of her neighbours. She joined the course and studied very hard. Since the course was for students from science background, she had to double her efforts as she had pursued Arts during higher secondary.

Her hard work paid off and on completion of the course, Joshi topped her batch. She was officially a refractionist. “My days of struggle have borne fruitful results. I am very happy”, exclaims Joshi with tears in her eyes.

For Joshi, however, the odds in her life did not end there. She had to face opposition from her relatives when they came to know about her idea of opening up an eye care store in her village. As expected, when she asked them for financial assistance, they turned her away. But that made Joshi stronger as now she could sense that she had to do something to prove her abilities.

Joshi asked for help from her friends and very soon she was able to collect some amount of money to open an Eye Mitra Optical store in her locality. She emerged as a strong fighter refusing to surrender to her fate. Today she earns around INR 6000-8000.  “People now come to me not as Joshi who was thrown away from her husband’s house due to bad vision, they come to me as Joshi who can help others with eyesight problems. I have become famous in my village,” she says happily.

Joshi plans to open outlets in nearby villages in future. She also wants to teach people about taking care of their eyes and protecting them from damage and deterioration.

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