Journey from A Fishing Village to Working at The Tata Institute of Social Sciences
I was born on 16th January 1984 to a family from the Koli fishing community in Mumbai. My family comprised of my parents and grandmother along with five children of which I am second in birth order. My father is a fisherman and my mother is a housewife. My father had his own boat and the family was dependent on the income from fishing. My father had completed his education upto class 9 and my mother had not had the opportunity for education.
When I was 9 years of age, my vision started deteriorating due to a congenital condition known as Retinal Pigmentosis. Over a period of a few months, I lost my sight completely. I was studying in class 3 at the time. This occurrence caused me to have to shift schools and hence my parents moved me from the local school that I was attending, to a special school for the blind. It took me some time to adjust to my new situation, the surroundings and the process of learning Braille. My younger brother who had lost his vision a few years earlier was also in the same school and used to do very well academically. I was often compared to him and teased throughout most of my school life for not being like my brother.
I completed my SSC at the age of 16 years and obtained 71.46 %. I thought of continuing my education in the vernacular medium(Marathi). However a friend guided me to attempt moving to an English medium college as it would help me in my future. I initially did not have the confidence to continue my education in English, but with his encouragement, I tried and succeeded. I moved from KC college to St Xavier’s college and had to struggle to adjust with the new environments, language and culture. However my confidence increased as I found that I was able to learn and speak the language. I pursued my post graduation in social work at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. I took up research on the fishing community during my post graduation. My research helped me to understand the situation of my community and I realized that they were educationally backward. My own journey and life experience has taught me the importance of education, and I now feel very strongly that I should facilitate my community through a similar experience. I now conduct personality development sessions and programmes for the youth and other interested members of my community residing in my locality. I am associated with a group called the Possibilities Network group, and through them I also conduct Possibilities workshops in schools, colleges, and slum communities in rural and urban areas .
I am simultaneously pursuing a law degree from the Government Law College, Mumbai, and have also cleared my NET exam. I hope to use all my education to work towards the betterment of my community. I am currently an advisor in the Machimar Nagar, Colaba. I am committed to the cause of the fishing community and plan to establish my own NGO to work on the range of issues confronting fishing communities at large.
I am presently employed as a project coordinator at the M.K. Tata Learning Center for the visually challenged at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. My job profile consists of training students to use assistive technology, and also coordinating responses to the needs of visually challenged students.