Srinagar, Mar 5: Sightless but not visionless, Abrar Ahmad Bhat looked exhilarated while unlocking the door to his computer institute, as his dream was finally coming true.
At first, one can hardly deduce that Abrar is visually impaired given his enthusiasm and agility in making arrangements for the inauguration of his institute.
This 29-year-old visually impaired youth has become a beacon of hope and inspiration for the differently-abled people.
At his institute in Nowpora area of Srinagar, Abrar has introduced teaching The Holy Qur’an in Braille language for the visually impaired children who do not even have access to special schools.
Apart from teaching kids Quran in Braille, his institute will provide computer training and indoor game activities for visually impaired children.
“I wanted to do something for people like me. I have struggled throughout my life. I don’t want people to suffer like me. I want to create a platform to guide and educate them on the right path,” Abrar said with a cheering smile on his face.
He said that around 25 visually impaired students will be accommodated in his institute.
“To run the institute, we have pooled funds locally and haven’t taken any support from the government so far,” he said.
Hailing from Solina area of the uptown city, Abrar is the eldest son among the four children of Abdul Ahad Bhat.
At 15, he started losing his eyesight. His family took him to several doctors, including visits to Indore and Hyderabad, where Abrar was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), a genetic disorder that involves a breakdown and loss of cells in the retina resulting in complete loss of eyesight.
“My body trembled when doctors told me that my disease is incurable and I need rehabilitation. I did not know what that word meant at that time. I was in mental trauma and did not know what I will do with the rest of my life,” Abrar said.
By 16, when Abrar was in class 10, he was almost completely blind.
“I used to take help from my friend to record voice notes of my lessons and listen to them. During exams, I had to take the help of a writer as I was hardly able to see. I qualified class 10 in 2008 and 12 class in 2010 with a good percentage. I did graduation in arts from Delhi University in 2017,” he said.
Abrar’s family struggled financially. His father, Abdul Ahad was a daily wager and could hardly afford Abrar’s treatment.
The life was full of challenges and societal hindrances.
“Once I went to get a library membership and I was asked what I would do with it since I was blind? But I wanted to show them that I am of the same ability and caliber as those who can see,” he recalled.
While he studied, Abrar tried his hands on selling carry bags to support his family but his efforts came to a grinding halt as the situation in Kashmir turned turbulent in 2010.
Later in 2013, his friends suggested him to visited the National Institute of Visually Handicapped (NIVH) Dehradun where he could enroll in several courses without any cost.
At NIVH, Abrar successfully completing three-month adjustment and rehabilitation course as well as other employment-generating courses offered by the institute.
In 2016, he was appointed as a sub-staffer in Punjab National Bank in Kashmir and is now serving his purpose of life to create a learning platform for visually impaired people in Kashmir.
His computer institute was inaugurated by District Commissioner, Srinagar Dr. Shahid Iqbal Choudhary on February 29.
“We will provide full support for this institution. Whatever requirements are needed to run this institute, the government will provide every help to him,” Dr. Choudhary said.