Ganesh Singh: A Broadcaster, Advocate and Mentor
By Bibi Khatoon
Some may know him as a Broadcaster while others may know him as an Advocate.
His program about disability awareness is aired on NTN 89.1 and RGI 89.5fm.
Ganesh Mithra Singh was born in the community of Unity on the East Coast of Demerara in 1984. He attended the Helena Primary School before he went on to further his studies at the St Stanislaus College.
During his school years, Ganesh suffered from a disease in both eyes. He was never diagnosed but after some years, he was told by Ophthalmologists who were on an outreach mission in Guyana that he had Glaucoma.
In the year 2000, Ganesh wrote the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Examination, but unlike his other classmates, he did this while barely sighted.
“I barely could’ve even see on the paper,” he told News Room.
He gained some CSEC passes but shortly after the examination, Ganesh lost vision in both eyes.
After being rendered blind, Ganesh retreated into isolation.
“I wasn’t going anywhere, I had no social interaction, I would be back and forth between a few relatives’ house and my own.”
After five years in isolation, Ganesh said he decided to step out into the world again as he realized his condition was not going change.
“I basically decided…that it’s no use that you’re alive but not living,” Singh said.
At this point, he started playing blind cricket –something which he said was the method for his reintegration into society.
His second step was learning to use the computer, something which he had little knowledge of before going blind. With help from the Job Access With Speech (JAWS) software, which is a screen reader designed to help visually impaired persons, Ganesh managed to start using the computer.
The advocate began to use his condition as an inspiration to others like himself. He shared his knowledge of the computer with younger persons as well.
Though he admitted that he was never a fan of studying, Ganesh went on to the University of Guyana and recently completed his Bachelor of Science Degree in Social work as he noted that “my disability should not be a definition of who I am.”
At the Guyana Society for the Blind, Ganesh piloted the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) programs for the blind and visually impaired persons, giving them the opportunity to write the CSEC examination.
One of the persons to successfully complete the examination is Odessa Blair. Odessa became blind at the age of 30 due to extreme hypertension which she suffered during her second pregnancy.
Like Ganesh, she struggled at first to come to grips with her new reality. She told News Room that “for the first two years, I cried every day hoping to see again and hoping to see my son.”
She subsequently joined the Society for the Blind and became one of the first persons to write the CSEC Examination.
She explained that the qualifications which she gained before losing her sight were no longer useful “since she could no longer see to write on paper anymore.”
Odessa is currently completing her final project at UG and will be graduating later this year after which she is hoping to find employment; something which is often times hard for persons with a disability.
On this note, Ganesh, who is also a Commissioner on the National Commission on Disability is urging the Government to do more to cater to persons with disabilities.
He said the first thing which needs to be changed is the approach.
“We have a very primitive approach and we view disability through a charity lens so our approach is one of hand out and we see persons with disability as objects of charity.”
Ganesh also works with students at the Open Doors Centre, a special needs school located at Sophia.
He is also a Secretary with the Caribbean Council for the Blind, Vice- Captain of the Guyana Blind Cricket Association and Information Technology skills trainer specializing in working with blind and visually impaired persons.