Blind children often experience significant social stigma in communities in the developing world. Ophthalmologists at A.B. Eye Institute, Unite For Sight's partner in Patna, India, founded and operates Bihar Netraheen Parishad, the only school in Bihar exclusively for blind girls. The goal of the school is to reduce the stigma associated with blindness and provide the girls with quality elementary and secondary school education. The girls gain confidence, skills, and the tools necessary to help to change perceptions about the blind in their families and communities. Most of the students continue on to university-level education.
Dr. Ajit Sinha, who directs the school, explains:
The girls started enjoying the school campus atmosphere. It is unbelievable, but these girls did not like to go back home during long vacation of the school because they did not get that love and affection from their parents as they got from the school teachers and the house warden. It was a great stigma in the family – A BLIND GIRL. Nobody wanted to extend sympathy to the blind girl, and that is why she enjoyed the school atmosphere more than [the] home atmosphere.
These blind students never are prevented [from performing] in social functions, and they considered themselves [to be] no less than the sighted students. The school encouraged them to take up other courses besides the school curriculum for the classrooms, such as music, Braille short hand typing, computers, and general typing and sports.
A girl at the school explained to Dr. Sinha:
After seeing me read and write, they [my family] thought that I was no less capable in doing anything less than a sighted girl. My mother has great hopes for me, and I think I will fulfill [them] thanks to Bihar Netraheen Parishad.
The entrepreneurial spirit of Stanford University graduate Emily Abrash led to Unite For Sight's involvement with and support of Bihar Netraheen Parishad. Seeing a need for financial support and assistance to the school while volunteering at A.B. Eye Institute in Bihar, Emily fundraised so that Unite For Sight could provide a grant to Bihar Netraheen Parishad.