BENGALURU: For the last ten years, Pushpa Preeya N M, a techie, has been lending a helping hand to the visually impaired and special students to take up exams by being their scribe. As of today, she has written 635 exams. She has taken exams for SSLC, PUC, engineering, law, UG and PG candidates, BESCOM, postal and banking job exams and more.Pushpa took her first exam as a scribe in 2007, and it was for a visually impaired student. She was just 19 then.“Her name was Hema. My friend who runs an NGO referred me as she could not arrange anybody at the last moment.
This was my first experience and I must admit that I was very scared. I had to keep repeating the questions. I also found it difficult to understand what she was saying. I often lost patience throughout the exam. But later, I did a little research and found out about how they read, write and communicate. I was touched by their confidence and then on, I decided to help them regularly. I met a few students, borrowed and studied their textbooks, and recorded notes for them. It’s their confidence which keeps me going even today,” says Pushpa.
Pushpa recalls the struggle she faced during her school days. “I come from a poor background and my parents struggled to pay my school fees. When I was in Class 7, I did not have money to pay the exam fees. My neighbours helped me pay the fees. A polio-affected man paid my fees during my PUC so that I could continue my education. With every exam I write, I feel like I’m giving back something to society,” she adds.
Pushpa says the job has a lot of consequences. “When you are writing an exam for someone, you are deciding their future. A slightest mistake from my end could put a full stop for their career. So I make it to a point to listen to them carefully, with all my mind and heart of course,” she says.Pushpa mostly transcribes for the students who are visually impaired,or suffering from cerebral palsy or Down syndrome.“During my free time I also teach a few students with special needs and the visually impaired. I try to build a rapport with them. Later, I become their scribe as well. But I have always been extremely honest during the exams. I might know the answers sometimes, but I have never helped them in that way. I only write what they want me to write,” Pushpa adds.
Every single student she has written the exams for has passed with flying colours and Pushpa is very proud about it. “Now, many have got jobs and most of them are in touch with me,” she adds.
Pushpa says her family and her colleagues have been extremely supportive. She is also a recipient of several awards: Women of the Future Awards 2017, Media Association of Karnataka, Outstanding Scribe Amrutha Bindu award, Best achievement for supporting visually impaired students by Government of Karnataka, Lifetime achievement award by Kannada Saithya Parishat.
A blood banker too
Apart from being a scribe, Pushpa arranges blood for the needy. “I have a state-wide network, spread just through word of mouth. I arrange blood for the needy via Facebook and WhatsApp. I have always been lucky because whenever there is a request, even for a rare blood group, I have always been able to reach the right people,” she says. One can get in touch with her through her Facebook page ‘We help India to provide blood donors’.
Taking up social responsibility
Once while travelling in train Pushpa encountered Abhilash(4), a visually impaired. His father, who is also blind, expressed helplessness about how an operation that costs K65,000 would help the boy get his sight but explained to her about their poor financial background. Pushpa took the onus on her, visited a few hospitals and convinced them to perform the operation for K20,000. She later pooled in the entire amount with the help of her friends and helped the boy get his eyesight back.
Pushpa may have written exams to hundreds of students, but this particular girl seems to be her favourite. “Harshita, a visually impaired B.Com student from Mount Carmel College, dictated to me commas and question marks and double-checked with me if I had put it on paper. At the end of the academics, Harshita scored distinction. Congress President Rahul Gandhi recognised our efforts and sent a letter of appreciation from New Delhi. Another student I wrote music exams for - Venkatesh, a visually impaired from a government college–walked away a gold medal. “