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Mother’s faith sees visually-impaired Qurat become teacher

Srinagar, July 17: Born with a rare genetic disorder, Qurat-ul-Ain (26) presents a living demonstration of how perseverance can turn a person, who is medically unfit to study, into a teacher.
At three years of age, Qurat was diagnosed with Retinitis pigmentosa, a rare, genetic disorder that involves breakdown and loss of cells in the retina. Doctors advised her mother not to let her study.
However, her mother remained steadfast, holding onto her belief that Qurat would make it through the visual disability.
And her unflinching support has yielded results: Qurat now teaches computer science to visually-impaired students at the Special Education Needs School (SEN) of Delhi Public School, Athwajan.
Hailing from Srinagar’s Sonwar area, the tall and round-faced Qurat has a rich and resonant voice.

The warm smile on her face remains fixed as she narrates her ordeal with the vision loss.
“I was enrolled in a school close to my home. I could barely read anything written on the blackboard. Even while attending mathematics class, I solved sums in my imagination. While writing exams, I took a lot to time to write my answers which resulted in low score,” she said.
Qurat was often bullied by her classmates for wearing big spectacles but she didn’t let that affect her schooling. Her parent’s constant support always helped her bounce back.
“Kids are insensitive by nature and you can’t blame them for it. I was mocked for my weird looking glasses but I didn’t lose heart. I would still talk to them,” she said.
After completing her schooling, Qurat’s gifted voice came to her rescue. She graduated in Music and Fine Arts from University of Kashmir.
“Music became my expression. It made me believe that my vision is still intact,” said Qurat
The course of true love didn’t run smooth for Qurat. This musical path was also filled with myriad hurdles. Her inability to walk without aid made her suffer.
“I vividly remember one afternoon from University days. We were rehearsing for an event in the backstage when an announcement for refreshment was made. All my friends went outdoors leaving me behind. I wept copiously. My immobility made me realise I cannot rely on others in the future,” she said.
A couple of days later, University held several workshops for the specially-abled children. Qurat saw the opportunity and decided to join it.
“The University’s special cell under DSW organised some technology related workshops in which they taught the disabled students how to use gadgets like laptops and mobile phones. I never knew that this little opportunity would turn out be a game changer for me,” she said.
With the help of this workshop, Qurat got acquainted with the world of computers. This was followed by intense sessions of learning. Today, she uses various devices with good proficiency in English and Braille.
“Last year a job offer from DPS came my way, and here I am. Helping and teaching people with disabilities overcome their fears gives me the utmost satisfaction. I have been there and no-one can understand it better than me,” said Qurat.
The resilient teacher, however, believes that the life of disabled people is filled with numerous challenges to go less societal acceptance.
“Walking around with a stick is looked down upon in our society. Many fear the social pressure and refuse to come out using it. Besides, there are very few schools for specially-abled people. Friendly spaces in various institutions and public places are even less,” she said.
Qurat urges the government to create more opportunities for specially-abled people through projects of mass awareness.
“The world should treat them as equals. If there are sincere efforts, you will see the disabled people making contributions in the same manner as others do,” she said.