This blogpost is written by Binni Kumari, Helpdesk Counselor, Score Foundation. Please note that Eyeway's Blog entries reflect the opinions of the author and contributors, meant to encourage debate and discussion, and not necessarily Score Foundation's official policy position.
In July 2010 when I was about to finish my one year Diploma in Computer Application from a well-known NGO working for people with blindness in Delhi, I came across a job advertisement on a dedicated mailing list meant for people with blindness. The advertised post was that of Radio Assistant Programmer, with Score Foundation. My application was rejected, since I did not have the required skill set for the job, however a lifetimes experience with blindness and my educational training made me the perfect candidate for the Eyeway Helpdesk.
Thus, on 2nd August 2010 I joined Score Foundation as a Helpdesk Executive. The shift from student life to a working environment was extremely challenging since this was my first job. I still remember the first day was spent trying to locate and access my email account. My buddy training under Pranay and Satguru, who used to manage the Helpdesk back then, taught me a lot. With the passage of time my timid nature shed away leaving behind a more confident person adept at her job. Making me a convincing counselor, this is at the core of being a good Helpdesk counselor.
I have seen a lot of ups and downs in my 3 and a half year short career that have shaped my life drastically. Having information about assistive technology, laws and policies, parenting a blind child, coping up with deteriorating eyesight and more was a prerequisite to be able to help people with blindness effectively. This meant that I had to constantly be on the lookout for the latest information from around the domain. The knowledge that at the end of the day I have helped someone who is in desperate need of information, made it all worth it.
Within a span of two years I had decided to work in the domain of living life with blindness, which starts when the doctor gives up hope of ever regaining eyesight. This decision meant dropping my earlier plan of applying for a government job.
The various interactions I have had with many different types of people living in diverse situations has broadened my understanding of human nature and has made me more empathetic towards people in general. In the earlier days I used to sound immature and speak so softly that sometimes callers asked to speak to my seniors. Even when I relayed the right information, they always had a need to crosscheck with my seniors. Sometimes I was even scolded by some of the more dominating and irate callers for not being able to give them convincing answers. This taught me to be more precise, accurate and convincing in my conversations.
One of my early breakthroughs happened while I was talking to a girl from Kashmir, who disclosed her identity. My empathetic attitude and the right information inspired confidence in her as well and she finally disclosed her identity to us. Later she also acknowledged that the given information was helpful to her. Recently a man from Andhra Pradesh acknowledged that before talking to the Helpdesk he wanted to commit suicide, since his office refuses to cooperate with his deteriorating eyesight. The legal information provided by us along with counseling on coping mechanisms saved him from throwing away his life.
I believe that in the short span of 3 and half years I have gained a lot from my work on the Helpdesk. My two buddy trainers who have now moved on to other organizations and those who joined Score Foundation later have impacted my life deeply. The Helpdesk has now given me the next big opportunity of my life, to train future Helpdesk counselors, for which I am both thankful and proud. Looking back I have indeed travelled a long way in these 3 and a half years, from being able to empower callers on our Helpdesk, the Helpdesk has in turn empowered me to hold my head up high and wade to life successfully.