Achiever Extraordinaire: Having Vision without Sight
This story is a part of Wings of Wealth 4 U (WoW4U), a unique campaign with a cause, and a joint initiative by HerMoneyTalks and MF Utilities. In this story series, we profile the unsung heroines of India who have battled unprecedented odds to not just survive but to conquer.
Undoubtedly, vision is one of the most crucial senses and the main way to perceive the world and interact with society. But, infrequently, there are those among us who prove this notion wrong.
Meet Madhu Singhal, a visually challenged social activist and an inspirational woman who has fought against all odds. Literally.
Madhu comes across as someone with extreme strength of will. Someone who has managed to overcome struggles that even a person with normal vision would find intimidating.
Born and raised in Rohtak in Haryana, the first, and her most traumatic, challenge Madhu faced was her visual disability that she was born with. Doctors had no medical solution for her predicament.
Due to her visual disability, Madhu was not able to attend a normal schooling like other children. Interestingly, and fortuitously, at the age of 12, another visually impaired teacher taught her Braille. That same teacher helped her with her basic education such as Maths and other subjects.
When she was 14, her mother went to the school where Madhu’s sister was studying. Her mother had only one thing in mind. She requested the school authorities to allow Madhu also to attend the same classes that all other children were attending.
Madhu’s mother had so much confidence in her daughter’s capability that she even assured the school that Madhu would manage her classes to the T. She even promised to devote her entire time to her daughter and guide her in her studies.
After every night, the morning will definitely come. After all, there is no light for those who do not know darkness!
Years back, the society in Rohtak, like in many other parts of India, did not believe a blind person could also achieve the same things that a person with vision could. But Madhu managed to prove her naysayers wrong. Graduating as a Bachelor of Arts in the First Division from Vaish Women College, she was even selected as the ‘Best All rounder Student’.
Every human being on this earth has their low moments, after all you cannot only have wins your entire life. There will be times when you’ll be dragged down, but according to Madhu, you should be able to boost your zeal.
You may lose faith in yourself, or you may even feel extreme discouragement. But according to Madhu, “after every night, the morning will definitely come. After all, there is no light for those who do not know darkness!”
I couldn’t get sleep the entire night! What if something went wrong? What if I couldn’t perform?
On the 5th of October, 1976, Madhu had an unforgettable experience. An experience that still gives her goosebumps. She was required to sing! That too, in front of an audience! Something that she had never done before that day.
The night before, Madhu was a nervous wreck. Recalls the gritty achiever, “I couldn’t get sleep the entire night! What if something went wrong? What if I couldn’t perform?”
But, guess who took home the first prize? It was Madhu Singhal!
But, while there are moments of satisfaction and happiness on one side, there are also moments of regret and grief on the other. During her post graduation at Government College for Women, Maharishi Dayanand University, her father unfortunately passed away.
My mother stood strong like a rock beside me through thick and thin.
Despite such a debilitating incident, Madhu managed to gather strength and rose to the occasion like a lioness to complete her post graduation in the First Division. Her plan was to become a lecturer after that, but unfortunately she could not do so.
She moved to Kanpur, a completely new city, and lived with her brother. Her biggest regret was that she had chosen not to pursue anything further in her career for around four years.
It was an extremely crucial period in Madhu’s life. All she could think of was how she felt that her life was pretty much over and how she would not be able to further do anything in life.
Finally, when her sister and brother-in-law called her to Bengaluru, it became the turning point in her life where she met a lot of new people.
Nobody is going to help you until and unless you take a step forward.
In the year 1990, Madhu founded Mitra Jyothi, a charitable trust with the objective of serving people with disabilities. When asked what made her start this organization, Madhu confesses that she was inspired by her own journey and wanted to help others in theirs.
Mitra Jyothi went on to win the State Award in 2010 from the Government of Karnataka for its service to the disabled. In a sense, it was a symbolic culmination of Madhu’s own journey of struggles and achievements.
It is undoubtedly difficult to go through such a journey without a support system. This is where her sister and brother-in-law and their family’s support proved invaluable.
The mention of the word ‘support’ makes Madhu’s eyes go moist. The reason is her mother. During her earlier stages of life, Madhu’s mother always supported her even when others doubted her capabilities. Reminisces Madhu, “my mother who stood strong like a rock beside me through thick and thin.”
Demonstrating utmost empathy, Madhu shares words of wisdom for all visually impaired women going through tough times: “If you are getting an opportunity, take it immediately, come out of your difficult phase in life, and show your strength to others. Nobody is going to help you until and unless you take a step forward.”
HerMoneyTalks extends its warmest support to Madhu Singhal and her organization Mitra Jyothi so that more visually impaired women are able to come out of their dark days and find light at the end of the tunnel.
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