Dr. Helen Keller said, “A person who is severely impaired never knows his hidden sources of strength until he is treated like a normal human being and encouraged to shape his own life”. This is so true for Mary Amsa, a woman who is deafblind, who started her incredible journey with the Helen Keller Institute for Deaf and Deafblind (HKIDB) more than three decades ago under the nurturing care of it’s founder, the late Ms. Beroz Vacha.
As one of Perkins India’s oldest partners, HKIDB serves as a centre of excellence in India with programs focused on early intervention, education, and professional development. Their vocational training program provides skill training that helps to increase independence and open opportunities for employment.
Anuradha Mungi, Educational specialist at Perkins India reflects back on her time as one of Mary’s teachers several years ago, saying “It was such an enjoyable experience working with Mary. It was wonderful to see her independence in doing activities like cutting vegetables. She would go to various departments at HKIDB to fetch orders from children and staff, actively participated in preparing snacks/lunch and served it to those who placed the order. She loved shopping (especially choosing her dress for her birthday) and she loved celebrating festivals (especially Holi when she could pour water on her teachers and enjoy together).”
Over time, Mary achieved proficiency in all areas of development – from literacy to independent living skills – because of the dedication of Ms. Beroz Vacha and the committed staff at HKIDB. She grew up to be a healthy, mature, caring, efficient and confident woman with an amazing capacity to give and receive.
Today, Mary has a green thumb and loves to nurture her plants to grow. She is an excellent caretaker of younger children and shows great affection and compassion while helping them go through routine activities. She moves easily around the areas that she lives and works, and communicates with people in her community through communication cards. In the kitchen, Mary loves to cook her favorite dishes by reading the recipes in Braille.
The greatest achievement for Mary so far has been her appointment as an assistant trainer at HKIDB’s Vocational Training Unit. As an alumnus of the program herself, she knows how to make beautiful necklaces of semi-precious stones or decorative candles, and finds joy in helping her students learn to make them independently as well.