The reason of us, joining the Organization is because for our own good and also for the good of the whole society. For example, if you have a blind person who is useless, who is disabled, society has to support him. But, if we produce a blind person who is capable, who is productive, he is not going to be the burden for the society. In fact, he is going to contribute to the society. So, if we do it for ourselves, for our good, we are also going to do good to the society. That’s why, this is a good line you know, when you talk to potential supporters, especially the funders, do tell them that if you fund us, it’s good for blind people and if it’s good for blind people, it’s also good for the society. In this way, they go together hand in hand, and they are both connected. For Example, if you are a blind child, and your parents bring you up, and you remain disabled, then they have to support you whole of your life. But, if you become productive, you will be able to support yourself, your family, and your society too. Therefore, that is the thing we need to try to bring about that kind of shift and thinking that blind people can do anything. Therefore, our programmes, skills and designs should reflect that belief that blind people are unlimited. they can do anything they want. We just need to support them in a right way. Yeah, will start doing things for the blind people.
But, also in the long run, you know, we have to work for other persons with different disabilities as well. We will organize campaigns. Yeah, it’s a good way to start with. If with the reason, why not. absolutely, necessary.
Yes, Benister, I know him. He is completely matlah (blind). he is just like me, I am also completely matla. In Khasi, for blind, they call it matlah. For a long time they make fun of us. They will give a bad name to the word ‘blind’ and ‘matlah’. We have to change that, we have to embrace it, we have to accept it, we have to love it. For this reason, we have to love it and enjoy it to the point that it becomes ridiculous for people to say, you know, insult you, by saying you are matlah. It will no longer be an insult. You know, blindness should never, ever be an insult, and that is the culture we need to change. Why should it be an insult? It should not. There’s no reason why, and that’s what we need to change. That’s why, I am using the term ‘matlah’ intently to change the way we think about language, you know, about the word ‘blind’ and ‘matlah’ in the culture. Culturally, you know it is connected with so much negativity, we have to change it. It’s nothing negative, nothing wrong with being blind and matlah. You know, we have to be comfortable with that. I am matlah. “I am Thomas the matlah”. So, we have to change the culture. that’s why, you know, we are doing all these works. We have to make fun of it. We have to bring it all the unquestioned thinking negatively about blindness and language. We have to question them. When you know them, when youquestion them, they become ridiculous. They really have no meaning. It’s crab. So, we need to show the funny side of these things how ridiculous. But, they stigmatize people, they prevent persons with blindness from leading productive life. they make them ashame, they make them feel guilty. We have to highlight all these things. That’s why we have this Organization. I think now, you’re beginning to understand about our Organization, what we are going to do. We are changing the meaning of the word ‘matlah’. that is our main reason or objective of our Organization. All the Khasi people, Jaintia people have to get use to being cool when being called as ‘matlah’. It’s cool to be matlah. Yeah, it’s cool to be blind. that’s the whole idea. We have to get rid of all these negativities, that have been attached culturally for long, long time for useless reasons, really, which doesn’t have any Science behind it. It’s just a cultural superstition, and we have to challenge, we have to question. That’s why, we have the whole work to do. we have to educate the public about these things. yes, we have to be ready to be the ambassadors for getting our work out to the public, and that is how we raise public awareness about these kinds of issues that are very sensitive.
So through this Organization, we can speak about this sensitive issue in a fun manner, in a productive manner, you know in a positive way, and it gets out there, and slowly it changes the people’s mind set. People keep thinking about these things culturally. In the long run, we have to really change the culture of thinking about blindness and other disabilities. Then only, things will change. Otherwise we can teach a blind person to make broom, nothing changes. He only makes brooms. Whether he sells them or nnot. It doesn’t really matter. That is how, traditionally, you know blind people have been taught. I’ll teach you to make chairs and brooms . what a heck! Not everybody wants your chairs and brooms! You know, we have to create a culture where blind people are expected to do anything like everybody else, where they are not fit into thinking that they can only do this. for example, only making chairs. Hence, we have to open the culture of thinking that blind persons are capable anything, they want. Thus, that kind of expectation that we are opened to do anything and we are capable of doing anything, we have to create that kind of culture. Otherwise, we are put in a box, you know, either as a persons with disabilities who have to be taken care of, poor beggars, blind beggars or poor blind persons that we have to teach to make chairs and tables. Otherwise, they don’t have high expectation, you know. It’s not we are capable of, it’s just that cultural thinking believes that we are not capable of, and we have to change that . We all know that we are capable of doing a lot of things! I know, I am not capable of making brooms and tables actually. I can’t do that, even if you teach me. However, you know, you have to make this point very clearly to these things. That’s the work we all have to challenge too, and that’s why we need other collaborators, partners, because as you know, if you want to change the culture, we have to involve a lot of people, anybody who is going to be the help in raising awareness.
“If you approach blindness with an open scientific mind then you will realise that blindness is not a disability but rather a potential opportunity”. Shri Thomas Tajo, OFID National President.
Author of the Article: Shri Thomas Tajo, the National President of the ORGANIZATION FOR INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT (OFID)