Meet Pushpa Preeya, Writing Exams For the Disabled for a Decade
Pushpa Preeya comes from a financially backward family based in Bangalore. Having missed out on most of the fun childhood activities, due to financial constraints the family had, Pushpa knows the struggles. She completed her education in an atmosphere where they were constantly hard pressed for money. Fortunately, there were some who supported her dreams. Today, she is an accomplished IT professional.
Interestingly, she found her calling in voluntarily writing exams for visually-impaired students. We met Pushpa to know more about her unusual interest.
Working in the IT industry alongside writing for students with disabilities in exams – what inspired you to choose this?
My view of life is to be happy with what we have got and try to help the needy. And working in IT and doing this work is not that easy. We all are busy in our schedules but we also should give back to the society and help as much as we could. This is how I choose to support.
My brother and I had to compromise a lot since our family faced a perennial financial crunch. However, there were very generous people who helped us complete our education and that’s how we could afford to pay our fees.
Visually-impaired people are humans too, people forget that sometimes. They have a disability in a particular part of their body, not in heart.
Any personal reason to follow the path?
Instead of crying out for what society hasn’t done for us, we need to think what we could do for the society. I opted to support visually impaired students because they would require support from us and we are the ones who can build their confidence and help them grow.
Till now I have written over 657 exams. I have been writing exams since 2000 for the students who have cerebral palsy and down syndrome or are visually impaired. I have been a writer for school, under graduation, post-graduation, and even government exams.
Apart from writing for them, I take them for doctor’s appointment, speaking on their behalf and even get eye operations checked up and also help them get their blind certificates done. I have also written for engineering students who after tragic accidents lost their ability to write. I have been their scribe too.
Most of my students, for whom I have written exams, have passed and some are already working.
What social message you’re trying to convey?
Education only can build their careers. They need to be self-sufficient to earn by themselves and not depend on others.
I would request the public to build awareness on pledging eye donation. And help create awareness around it. So that visually impaired people can see the world.
Any lessons learnt from this profession?
I am blessed to write all these exams and I will continue doing so forever. I see only positive vibes around me after starting out this special job for the special people of our society.
Patience, Listening skills, Knowledge, facing adverse situations with confidence are virtues to learn from these students. Their high goals and aspiration will make you see yourself in a different light.
Tell us through your experiences with the students you write for.
Frankly speaking, while writing their exams I have improved my handwriting, knowledge and whatnot. Initially being a scribe, you will lose your interest, but when you go in depth you’d understand their pain. Most of their families are poor and don’t have enough facility and they lack mentors.
As a scribe, you have a lot of responsibility by listening carefully to their answers and writing down in the booklet. To trust is to let go of controlling an outcome.
Other than writing for disabled, I am a blood donor, I spend time at the old-age homes, have volunteered for acid attack females and teach tribal children.
Tell us about the challenges you have faced and how did you manage to overcome it?
Coming from a poor background, I had faced a lot of hardships. Seeing my mother struggle to make the ends meet, I learnt the value of money at a very young age. When I was in grade seven, once my fee was not paid and the school authorities had to ask me to walkout. Seeing my condition to not being able to take the exams, my neighbour supported me through.
Similarly, a disabled polio person paid my college fees.I had to go through lot of breaks in my education. I eventually lost touch with these people but I am sure in this way I can show my respect to them.
What makes you passionate about what you do?
I see many women around me with disabilities, who have gone through some personal problems. However, they prefer shutting their mouth because they are scared. What motivates me is to make them feel they are capable of doing any miracle.
When we do what we love we actually are more likely to be successful, happier and healthier. Doing what you love makes you more engaged and dedicated.
Share your insights about the NGOs or other organisations which work for them. How likely do they work towards development? What needs to be changed?
The independence of NGOs allows them to explore alternative paradigms of development to challenge social, economic and political forces. It is therefore crucial that all laws, policies, rules and regulations relating to NGOs categorically safeguard their autonomy, while simultaneously ensuring their accountability.
What do you consider to be your significant achievements so far?
One of my students Harishitha, for whom I had been writing exams for years, had scored the distinction marks in B.Com. A congratulation from Rahul Gandhi lifted our spirit. We were even interviewed by an English News Channel. Another student Venkatesh, who was gold medalist in Music, made me proud too.