What sets Baby Girija apart in the teaching community is her vision for those who can't see. The visually challenged school teacher is single-mindedly working towards building a Braille collection of essential reading in Malayalam. The visually challenged children should be able to read as much as their peers who have access to well-stocked libraries, she believes. Her goal is to commence a Braille library, with one in the public library.
A faculty at the Government School for the Visually Impaired in Vazhuthacaud, Thiruvananthapuram, Baby Girija has been converting must-read books in Malayalam to Braille for the past 10 years. Thanks to her relentless efforts, the school now boasts of a Braille library of its own.
Girija joined the school as an ad hoc teacher in 1993. She was later made a permanent staff. “The school principal once mentioned to me that if I was ready to work for it, the school can build a library of its own. I was both touched and inspired by his faith in me. I had always dreamed of writing books in Braille, but those words are what set me on a goal,” says Girija.
She has so far brailled 48 books, which includes abridged versions of classics and a 15-volume set of Ramayanam for children. The brailled Aithihyamala is a whopping 31-volume set. As Braille books, the works become more voluminous, she says. Books like ‘Oru Kudayum Kunju Pengalum’ also come in multiple volumes like most others in the collection.
Girija is currently busy working on her 49th Braille output. It will be a collection of classic riddles in Malayalam.
Those close to Girija are quite acquainted with her obsession with writing. Friends and parents of her students volunteer to read out books to her which she instantly transcribes to Braille. She has found an aide in Sreerekha, an office staff at the school, who takes care of the binding and cataloguing of the books. Girija’s unrelenting hard work and unwavering vision are already a parable of sorts among her students and colleagues. Every waking hour, other than the time she is teaching, is spent working towards her mission. She maintains her own catalogue of the titles that get brailled – complete with details of the author and number of volumes in Braille.
Girija is a native of Paravur in Kollam. In 2014, she was awarded the president’s medal for distinguished teaching.