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These blind Indian women, who live in darkness, light up Diwali for others

Blind women at Andh Kanya Prakash Gruh in Ahmedabad make lamps for Diwali. Source: Bhaven Kachhi

Every year vision-impaired women from Andh Kanya Prakash Gruh make lamps for Diwali, lighting up the festivities they will never see themselves.

Every year about 15 vision-impaired, partially blind and fully blind women at Andh Kanya Prakash Gruh - a trust in Ahmedabad which also runs a school for vision-impaired girls, make close to 50,000 earthen lamps for Diwali.

These kodiya (lamps) are then distributed and sold all over Gujarat at a rate cheaper than the usual market price.

The women of Andh Kanya Prakash Gruh tell SBS Gujarati "Our organisation depends on donations from the society so we too would like to give back in some way, which is why our lamps are sold at the price cheaper than the market price."

Income from products made by the blind women goes back into supporting their activities.

Andh Kanya Prakash Gruh
Blind women at Andh Kanya Prakash Gruh making lamps for Diwali.
Bhaven Kachhi
 

Project Coordinator Smitaben helps women source the materials and provides training for making the lamps.

While Smitaben is not vision-impaired, she understands the challenges faced by these women in the production procedures.

SBS Gujarati's special correspondent Bhaven Kachhi met Smitaben at the organisation's office in Memnagar.

Andh Kanya Prakash Gruh
Bhaven Kachhi with Coordinator of Andh Kanya Prakash Gruh, Smitaben.
Bhaven Kachhi
 

Blind and vision-impaired women are given technical and professional training at the Andh Kanya Prakash Gruh (AKPG).

The organisation also plays matchmaker, helping women find and meet their life partners.

AKPG ties up with other organisations supporting people with disabilities like the Andh Jan Mandal in the city of Vastrapur to organise a meet and greet for men and women of their organisation.

Coordinator Smitaben tells us many couples who met at their events have been happily married for more than a decade. 

It's not just Diwali that sees this group of women employed.

Every year they women start off by making rakhis (bracelets made of red and gold string) for the religious event of Rakshabandhan, in which the tying of these bracelets around wrists is tradition.

The group then move on to making the kodiya lamps in time for Diwali.

During-off season they make necklaces and other jewellery made out of beads.

The trustees, coordinator and workers have been working towards making the organisation self-sufficient by putting the income from their products into the running of their organisation and hence reducing the dependence on donations. 

We may live in darkness but we can still light up other people's lives

The message from these women is quite simple, "we may live in darkness but we can still light up other people's lives."

"You don't need eyes, you need vision to live a fulfilling life. "

Andh Kanya Prakash Gruh
Diwali lamps made by women at Andh Kanya Prakash Gruh
Bhaven Kachhi