“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” - Helen Keller
We have always used this quote. We know it is overused, but nothing explains the power of community-will and support more than this. Helen Keller understood the power of words and people and so here we are narrating a story that reflects it the best.
When the pandemic struck and the entire world got isolated; people with deafblindness were left alone in the dark with no contact or communication as to what had occurred.
Senthil Kumar is a 42 years old adult with deafblindness from Wayanad, Kerala. He was used to the isolation and had paved a way for himself to be able to interact with people. He learned Tactile Sign Language to communicate with people through touch. Senthil has deafblindness, his wife Beena has hearing and speech impairment and they have two kids named Stephan and Blessy. He was thrilled that he could support his family by selling books and lottery tickets in public places. After all the hard-work, Senthil made up his mind to set up a small book shop.
Brewing a dream of a small shop Senthil experienced the silent fury of the lockdown. The lockdown initiated a series of loss all over the country and Senthil who was earning close to INR 7,000/- per month was severely affected. He realised that he could not sell his books and lottery tickets at the bus station as all forms of travel was restricted. The sudden change in the surroundings and the air filled with fear could be felt. With a family to support, Senthil was desperately looking for a way to make the lockdown bearable for his family. The COVID-19 pandemic posed some serious challenges that could not have been foreseen. Many families lost their livelihoods by either having their earnings reduced or ceasing to exist.
Senthil did not give up on his dream. He received a seed capital from Sense International India under its innovative idea to make people with deafblindness into micro-entrepreneurs to set up his business. With help from our partner organisation Shreyas in Wayanad, Kerala and two generous donors- Mr. Manickam Dhamodharan and Mrs. Shanti Dhamodharan, Senthil opened his own shop! Senthil said, “I have dreamed of owning my own business for as long as I can remember. But recently with the COVID-19 situation my book and lottery selling have not been good and I was hoping that I could start something on my own. With the support from Shreyas, Sense India and the donors my dream came true.”
Letting go of his worries Senthil said, “I feel lucky and blessed to have a shop on my own and now I can provide for my family and my children's studies. Now I don’t have to worry too much about paying my house rent every month.” Senthil has a dream- the future of his children, “I need to make sure that both my children get good education and secure a good job. Also we hope that we can buy our own land and build a house for us.”
On the 5th of December, Senthil and his family joined by all his well-wishers inaugurated the opening of his shop situated at Chendakuni, which is on the Meenangadi Panamaram highway. Senthil’s petty shop sells bakery items, candies, books & stationary, lotteries and grocery products.
A dream came true, even in a pandemic. We wish Senthil all the best!
Authors Sonia Gervasis- Communication Officer, Sense International(India)