The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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tale of grit

Look no further

Among most of us, there is a misconception that living with blindness is devastating.

I had the privilege of meeting Joyce Kane (right, in pic above), who is the president of the Southern Connecticut division of the US Federation of the blind. Joyce turned blind at the age of 46 after an open-heart surgical complication. But she has made her weakness her strength, and helps other blind people overcome day-to-day challenges. In India, Joyce has visited Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Calcutta, Ahmedabad and New Delhi ' accompanied by her dog, Corrie, who leads Joyce down the stairs, into elevators, grocery stores and even to the restaurant.

When I met her in a city hotel in New Delhi, I was taken aback by the positive energy she exuded; Joyce was determined not to be reined in by her handicap. When she turned blind, people around her had reacted differently; some had avoided her as she could not participate in certain activities while others had shown too much of compassion.

Joyce feels that physically-challenged people need patience, not compassion. In India, she has been amazed by the grit of the physically-challenged people she has met. After all, coping with physical challenges in a non first-world country is much tougher.

As I was about to leave, I noticed that among her personal belongings there was something that looked like an antiquated sewing machine. Joyce said the blind students of Ahmedabad had given her a charkha ' Joyce plans to learn to use it. Her telling comment to me was that I, too, should learn to use it, as the great man who made the charkha a symbol of his struggle, perhaps, did not have only physical blindness on his mind when he spoke of “selfreliance” and “enlightenment”.

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