A boarding school for visually impaired students. A security guard checks out visitors.

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An ordinary day

Carla Fiorina | India

With almost 8 million blind people, India accounts for 20% of the total blind population in the world. What's worse, 75% of the cases could have been prevented or cured.  This photo essay shows an ordinary day of a tiny fraction of that figure: 150 children, boys, teenagers and young adults who are so lucky as to live in a boarding school for the blind. The school is solely funded by a benefactor and does not receive any other kind of financial aid, which recounts for its dramatic shortcomings. What awaits the boarders once they leave the school is the grim reality of a country where the top 1% holds close to half of the country’s total wealth while over 80% of rural and nearly 70% of urban inhabitants are below the poverty line. People with disabilities such as blindness have no safety net and really no place in Indian society where millions of healthy people fight for getting a meal each day. 

I visted the school in March 2013 and in December 2015. Both times I saw that the main educational purpose there was to provide the boarders with the vital skill of gaining autonomy and independence of movement. That seemed to be very successfully obtained. A secondary goal was to get them to learn the braille reading system. On my first visit there seemed quite structured learning groups, on my second visit everything was different. Fifty students have had to leave it in the past two years due to insufficient funding and the whole program seems to be falling apart.  


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