"Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others." Jonathan Swift

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you were visually impaired?

Participants on a Meridian course in India visited Mitra Jyothi to experience some of the challenges visually impaired people have to overcome, and to learn more about the work they do integrating persons with disabilities into mainstream society.

Mitra Jyothi believes that all persons with disability have the potential to become independent and self sufficient - given the right opportunities they can achieve their goals and play a useful role in the community. The organisation was established in 1990 by Ms Madhu Singhal, who is visually impaired herself. Initially, it was set up specifically for the empowerment of visually challenged persons, now their work extends to cover persons with other disabilities as well.

Greater empathy = greater leadership

The module, offered by Common Purpose as part of the Meridian programme in Bangalore, focused on the true meaning of power; where is the source of one's own power and where do the disabled get their power from? To understand what it is like to live a life of the visually impaired, the participants were taken on an empathy walk. They were asked to navigate a busy road, find their way to the venue and eat - all the while being continuously blindfolded.

As the afternoon unfolded, the participants got a deeper understanding of the growth of Mitra Jyothi as an organization , the impact of the various programs Mitra Jyothi has initiated and the various Governments schemes that are available or rather not available for the disabled in India today.

Course participants took away a greater understanding of people with disabilities in society.

The afternoon ended on a heart warming note where alumni of Mitra Jyothi shared the impact of the organization on their skill development, professional lives but most importantly creating the power of self belief and confidence within themselves. These alumni have gone on to become a college lecturer, radio jockey, banking professional and software engineer.

Ms. Madhu Singhal, with her ability to laugh, celebrate and transform disability into an asset was an inspiration to the group who came away in awe of a leader who truly has created the potential to discover the ability in disability.