In the Kunchikorve Community located in Santa Cruz, one can find a thin little girl dressed up in a red frock of around 6-7 years, standing in a lane and looking at other kids playing. She would seem disturbed, lonely and timid. On further enquiry, one would get to know that her name is Devika.
Found during one of the enrolment drives done by the CRY volunteers to ensure betterment of children in slums, Devika was one of the many kids whom the volunteers came across. She appeared lonely, standing quietly and not talking to anybody. The volunteers tried to interact with her but during the conversations with the volunteers; she was either looking down or trying to run away, most probably due to mistreatment or depression. She was scared and every stranger scared her too much to converse properly. Even after much enquiry the volunteer could only get her name. She did not react at all about anything and randomly got lost in the dingy lanes of Santa Cruz.
After a few months the volunteers made enquiries regarding the child with the only information they had acquired that is the name, asking about her in the community, it was found that she was a special child who was suffering from Partial Blindness, which made it difficult for her to attend normal school. Her disability was the burden which made her lonely and introvert, and isolated her from the rest of the children. In her family, she has her mother, father and a younger brother. Her parents wished her child to be educated and independent but due to the limited information, they were helpless regarding how to go about it. Her mother had accepted her fate and could only woe for her child.
To help Devika, two CRY volunteers, Anirudh Chaudhary and Riya Lakhmani completely involved themselves in the process to get her enrolled in a school to help her get educated. They both devoted their time after college hours to arrange appointments, take follow ups to different educational institutions. It was a tenuous job but their persistence helped them to fetch some appointments.
Devika’s mother Kiran says, “We had accepted our child is not normal and will never be able to lead a normal life but when I saw these two volunteers ready to take her charge, I got a hope that things are going to fall in place and she will get educated at least to become self-dependent. Now I have a hope that my child will be able to see as well as lead a normal life and this thought itself makes me very happy.”
The volunteers also approached NAB (National Association for Blind) to help her getting enrolled in their schools. During one of the sessions, the volunteers learnt that she was suffering from malnutrition and weakness along with Partial Blindness. She was also an introvert and not comfortable with unknown people. They enrolled her in one of their centers to overcome this shyness and get along with people more efficiently. Her parents were also asked to get her an Aadhar Card and get a vision test done. The volunteers had accompanied them to the Aadhar Card Centre. Since Devika’s eye lenses had a problem , it was getting very difficult to get her iris recognition done and also to detect her fingerprints was proving to be a challenge too.
Anirudh says, “Some Relationships are beyond the mere exchange of words, this journey has given me a little angel for whom my love has no bounds and for whose happiness I can do anything.”
By the interactions with Devika in their appointment, guiding her and assisting her in every stage of her admission, Anirudh has developed a strong bond of affection with her and watching her learn to read and write at this pace, gave him contentment which cannot be ever defined or explained by words.
Devika continues to amaze her teachers and her parents by learning at a tremendous pace. Today, Devika is a cheerful and a confident child and a different person altogether. During the vision test, it was found that her visual impairment can be cured by just one operation. Now, finally the efforts of her family, the volunteers seem to be bearing fruit. Devika will soon undergo an operation and hopefully will be able to see the world that lies ahead of her. The volunteers are committed to be with her and her family during this arduous journey– till she starts flying like kids of her age.
Note: The child’s name is changed to respect her privacy