Tiffany Brar provide free-of-cost classes to underprivileged visually impaired students
Tiffany Brar, a visually impaired social activist and a special educator from Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram, says the pandemic has shaken her like never before. "There have been instances where I or my students couldn't cross the road because people were hesitant to hold our hands due to the pandemic. People are afraid of touching. We rely heavily on touch," the 32-year-old tells NDTV as she walks towards a fruit vendor with the help of her cane.
The classes and hostels run by Ms Brar as part of Jyothirgamaya Foundation remain empty amid the lockdown. Mr Brar, at one such empty classroom, feels her way through the cupboards - marked with words in English as well as Braille - showing us around.
She now uses her smartphone to conduct computer and English classes online. And the classes are free for visually impaired students who can't afford to pay a fee.
"I got to know about this audio editing class through Jyothirgamaya. They deposited the fees of Rs 2000 on my behalf. They did this when they got to know I am interested in studying," Sumesh, one of her online students says. His father is a daily wager.
But even as Ms Brar's own sources of income have been drying, the distress calls have only been increasing.
"Since our organisation caters to only in-house training and accommodation of people with visual impairment and not much of individual support because we don't have so much funds, I decided to take it upon myself to talk to people I know personally, to raise funds and to support these people. I could have chosen not to do it, saying why should I? We have to help people with whatever we can," Ms Brar says.
At the outskirts of the city, Ms Brar guides us to the house of 61-year-old Shashidharan Nadar, who lives in a small shed-like house. "It was very difficult for myself and my wife to sustain. It was at that time that we received the kit. There was rice, pulses, sugar and tea leaves. There was everything in it," Shashidharan Nadar tells NDTV, while meeting Ms Brar. She guided NDTV to three other 'Below Poverty Line' houses in the same neighbourhood where the kits had been distributed.
Many say "seeing is believing". Ms Brar's visually impaired colleague Mr Balraman says "knowing is believing" - which is symbolic of their lives and passion. Each day their passion surpasses the challenges of their lives worsened by the pandemic.
As part of the Lottoland Aaj Ka Sitara series, we feature ordinary citizens and their extraordinary actions. Lottoland will support Tiffany Brar's cause with a cash incentive of Rs 1 lakh.