CHENNAI: Every now and then, K Gomathi from Chennai reminisces about the keenest of her childhood memories which were filled with the flavours and aroma of freshly-cooked homemade food. When her classmates sprinted to the playground or tuition classes soon after the long bell in school, Gomathi used to rush to the roadside eatery owned by her family. It was their only source of income.
“I used to clean plates in the evenings,” recollects Gomathi who completed her studies from a government school and went on to take a bachelor’s degree in engineering. The 32-year-old is now a successful software engineer based in Germany.
Being someone who faced hardships to complete her studies, Gomathi was always on the lookout for anyone who needed help, especially children struggling with their education. Through a friend based in Chennai, she came in touch with a group of visually-impaired children, most of them school dropouts. She started out by helping them pay their fees but soon she dug a little deeper to find out their everyday battles.
Firstly, she took the help of visually-impaired people who were skilled in teaching to assist these dropouts. Eventually, she began to convert important study material for competitive exams including bank tests and UPSC exams into audio books. Gomathi even organised health camps and workshops specifically for visually impaired children.
“These activities not only help the students but also contribute to the professional growth of the teachers,” gushes the engineer who now converts chapters and even novels to audio format. With the assistance of her friends and guided volunteers, she produced over 300 audio recordings to support visually impaired individuals.
“If we support them in their education, then there will be no need for them to rely on anyone for anything. They can lead their lives in full confidence,” says Gomathi who also shares the sweet coincidence of volunteering as a scribe to write around 80 exams back in college.
In 2018, with the help of the Blind Progressive Thinkers Council, Gomathi released an audio version of the book ‘Periyar Indrum Endrum’. The release event took place at Ethiraj College attended by about 25 to 50 blind people who also contributed their valuable ideas and efforts to improve the lives of the blind community. “The book has more than 1,000 pages which were turned into audio files. These files were divided into 21 parts with 394 chapters,” points out Gomathi.
Gomathi and her group of friends are continuously working towards empowering the visually impaired community, especially children. They are planning on converting more books to audio files. “The ongoing project involves transforming the book ‘India Varalatril Bhagavad Geethai’ into an audio format,” says Gomathi. Apart from this, she is also part of a team called ‘Our Village Our Responsibility,’ which was founded in the USA by a Tamil group.
She works as a coordinator for the state of Tamil Nadu to provide financial assistance to students from poor farming communities and support their education. As of now, over 150 students are receiving help from the group. They have also donated 36 cows for the poor and underprivileged farmer families.
In March 2018, Gomathi received the ‘Sudar Oli’ award by a woman empowerment group called Aiyai in Malaysia. The tricenarian hopes to assist more underprivileged individuals and expects the world to turn a better place for them.