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A spark in the dark

Losing the ability to see hasn’t stopped Josephine D’Souza from living her life normally. From knitting to teaching and even handling office work at the National Association for the Blind, St Cruz she does it all. NT KURIOCITY finds out how she overcame the challenges

ANNOUSHKA FERNANDES

The notion of losing your sight can be horrifying and could turn your world upside down. Overcoming this does not seem easy but Josephine D’Souza from the National Association of the Blind (NAB) hasn’t let her vision loss take charge of her life. In spite of losing her eyesight, D’Souza still continues to lead a normal life, by knitting, teaching the visually impaired to knit and learn Braille, and also helping with minor administrative work with the help of a screen reader on the computer.

Indeed, D’Souza learned to knit at a young age in Indore. However, in 2005 she lost her vision due to retinal detachment, a condition in which a layer of the retina tissue draws away from the layer beneath. “I lost my eyesight when I was in my 40s and was depressed for two years and questioned why this happened to me,” says D’Souza. However with the support and encouragement that her friends and family gave her, she was able to overcome her depression.

Nearly ten years after she had put down her knitting needles, D’Souza, encouraged by a colleague Bernie at NAB, decided to give knitting a try again. “Bernie would come to NAB and teach students to knit. I asked her if I could try and she encouraged me by bringing the needles and other required items,” says D’Souza.

While initially she thought she wouldn’t be able to knit owing to her inability to see the colours, with Bernie’s encouragement and guidance she was able to do so.

YouTube also helped D’Souza. “I listen to videos on YouTube, and try to learn different patterns and techniques. They read out the instructions and my hands know what to do,” she says.

Besides this, her love for reading motivated her to learn Braille. “I used to work as a librarian at a school and was very fond of reading books. I figured that if I learned Braille then I will be able to sit at home and read books,” says D’Souza.

After learning Braille, D’Souza realised that the loss of sight does not limit a person’s ability to do the usual chores that sighted people do. “I joined NAB and came to know that I can do so much more! I learned many things like how to use a computer and smartphone. For my rehabilitation I went to Mumbai where mobility training was given and how to manage your daily routine etc,” she adds.  And indeed, D’Souza believes that joining NAB has altered her life in the best way. “When I was home I felt helpless and thought that my life is binded by darkness. After joining NAB and learning several different things I feel that I can do a lot,” she says. In fact, last summer D’Souza also learned to weave a wire basket using different coloured wires. “Now I teach young students to knit and it is nice and encouraging to know that they are inspired to try the things that I teach them,” says D’Souza.

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