India is now home to the world’s largest number of blind people. In addition, nearly 30,000 blind people are added every year. Cataract is the primary reason for blindness in India. Every year approximately 3 million people develop cataract in India but the worst part is that almost half of these cases are curable which when left unattended translates to complete or partial blindness. Meanwhile there is an acute shortage of donated eyes in India and nearly 60% of the eyes donated are wasted or left unused. The third important and most neglected part is education amongst blind children. It is estimated that a meager 5% of the total population of blind children of our country receives education. Blind schools are important institutions in imparting education amongst the blind children in India.
Over the years, studies in child development, sociology, and special education have led to the conclusion that blind children grow, flourish, and achieve greater self and social fulfillment by being nurtured in the least restrictive environment. Through local education, supported by well prepared specialists in education of the blind, these children can enjoy everyday common experiences essential to the development of a keen awareness of the world around them.
The way ahead lies within the blind school: the institution that allows for the hope filled possibility of education and rehabilitation for children. It is the only place where we can enable them to blend into an everyday life of dignity and self-sufficiency.
This is a series of portraits of the visually impaired students from a blind school in Kolkata. The photographs were made during a workshop conducted by Goethe Institute Kolkata under the mentorship of Yana Wernicke. I am interested in how the portraits work both individually, and as a series. The work is not an attempt to reveal the “truth” of the sitters but more a contemplation of them being in the moment.