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True blindness is not the loss of Sight, its loss of Vision!

This dawned upon me the day I happened to visit a school for blind children in outskirts of Sialkot named Government Hakeem-ul-umat blind school Sialkot. It was arranged by Prevention of blindness trust (POB) in association with Student patient welfare society (SPWS) of Khawaja Muhammad Safdar Medical College Sialkot on Thursday, May 25th, 2015. Almost 80-90 students of fourth year and final year MBBS of KMSMC visited the school along with Dr. Intizaar Hussain Butt, Dr. Shahid Mahmood Diyal, Dr. Ahmed saeed and Dr. Zafar Iqbal. The purpose was to examine the students for any treatable blindness, interact with the students and motivate them, but their self-confidence and courage turned out to be a motivation for us instead. I was mesmerized by their height of talent and intelligence and how skillfully they manage to live with their deficiencies.

It was a pleasant summer morning. The sun merrily shone down through the azure sky.

We woke up early and donned ourselves up for the visit, gathered the gift hampers we had made for the children last night and rushed to catch up buses as it was already getting late.

It took 15 min to reach the destination. All the students were beaming with anticipation of the prospective wonderful experience as it was the first of its kind in Sialkot.

As we entered the school, the hustle and bustle of a busy school day awaited us. Cute little angels wearing blue shirts and white shalwars were strenuously learning and expanding their vision even without eye sight to look straight into the eyes of this cruel world.

After the brief introduction of the school by the vice principal we went to the class rooms of the students. There was 48 students who were studying in different grades in that blind school. Here they are taught how to read and write Braille letters as they have their textbooks converted into Braille letters. And it was fascinating to see how those children can read fluently by touching the dots of Braille with their fingertips.

After class visits, we along with all those 48 little angels gathered in a room where the display of their talent, confidence and IQ made us feel that they are not ‘Disabled’ but ‘Differently Abled’

A small, plump girl showed up and delivered a speech ‘zra num ho tau yeh matti bari zarkhaiz hay saqi’ in her melodious voice with immaculate body language. The administration told her that she stood first in All Pakistan declamation contest. ‘You know what,’ I couldn’t resist saying, ‘I’ve never seen even a normal student with this much talent! You’re love!’ I hugged her tight.

‘Why so worried! Now you’ve seen me! ‘She replied with unparalleled confidence. We all giggled at her confidence and wit.

The strangest part was: seeing all of the students playing, running here and there without even tripling making us doubt that they couldn’t see. Above all, when we tried to help any student opening gifts, they would bluntly refuse help saying ‘No! We can do it ourself’. They asked us to take selfies with them in our mobiles. After that, a 7 year old cutie pie excitedly asked me to show pictures I had taken with them. I put the camera in front him. ‘I can’t see them,’ he said his face flushing with joy,’ but still I’m happy i’ve taken pictures!

I couldn’t hold back my tears. These little angels deserve much much more. The smile they had on their faces gave us a lesson to thank Allah Almighty for every blessing we have.

Meanwhile, Dr intizaar and Dr. shahid Dayal was screening the students. 40 blind children were examined in detail with detailed history, anterior segment examination with handheld slit lamp, refraction and low vision aids and posterior segment examination with direct and indirect ophthalmoscope. Alhumdulilah about 10 children were improved with refraction and Low vision aids. Few had congenital cataract and they were asked to visit Eye department of KMSMC Sialkot for future treatment. The other predominant causes of blindness were Corneal scarring, micropthalmos, Retinitis pigmentosa, congenital glaucoma, optic nerve atrophy, and Retinal detachment.

Meeting with these epitomes of courage, love and confidence made my day. We were sent to motivate these students but the reverse happened!

I salute the team of POB Trust for making life easier for them this way. We were so happy to see them and I wish we could also help them see the colors of world around them.

Wo mard nahi jo darr jaye halaat kay khooni taaywar saay

Jis haal mein jeena mushkil ho, us haal mein jeena lazim haay

Iqra Zulfiqar

Final year student

Khawja Muhammad Safdar Medical College Sialkot

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