Helen Keller once said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision”. Doubly blessed are those who have both sight and vision and help to break the barriers to learning for the blind. Ms. Ranga Geetha of Millbury MA is one such visionary. Celebrating her 72nd birthday on 19th November, 2021, in a very special and meaningful way – by making a commitment to help improve the welfare of visually impaired students in a blind school in Madurai, India, by giving them the gift of technology and learning through her support of Vision-Aid’s Project Spring Board. Through her gift, Ms. Ranga Geetha is “adopting” one of the blind schools in Vision-Aid’s “Project Spring Board” network – St. Joseph’s Blind School in Madurai, Tamil Nādu.
About Project Spring-Board
Vision-Aid’s Project Spring Board is new initiative launched in 2021. Vision-Aid aims to bring technology, devices, and quality training to blind school students in an important selection of programs ranging from Computer Education and Mobile Training to Spoken English and more. This new signature program at Vision-Aid allows donors like Ms. Geetha to “adopt” a blind school in India. With a commitment starting at $5,000 a year, donors can help to bring significant transformation and impact to students in the selected blind school. Ms. Geetha has pledged her initial committing to support the blind school for the coming five years, at a minimum, but is also planning to go beyond that, to create a permanent endowment to support programs for many coming generations of students who will benefit from this wonderful gift.
A lasting tribute
Ms. Geetha wishes to dedicate the project in the loving memory of her late father A.S. Rangaswami and mother Thangam Swami. She grew up in a close-knit family of 8 children.
Her father Mr. A.S. Rangaswami (a.k.a A.S.R Swami), was one of five sons. He was born on April 9, 1918 and grew up in Thiruvellarai, Thanjavur District in Tamil Nadu. It is the home of Pundarikaksha Perumal, one of 108 Vaishnava “Divya Deshams”. His father was a priest at that temple and his mother was a housewife. He moved to Delhi seeking better job opportunities and worked with Indian Airlines for some time but subsequently started his own business. In an area of business where often times, corruption and bribes were commonplace, he was always committed to running his business with the utmost integrity, always striving to walk the high road even though this caused business setbacks, and personal difficulties for him, and also placed him and his family in economic hardship. He married Thangam Swami in 1944. Thangam Swami was born in Manamadurai, in Sivaganga district in Tamil Nadu. This place is about 28 miles south east of Madurai. Her birth name was Thangam and she went by Thangam Swami after marriage.
About Ranga Geetha
Ranga Geetha was born in Manamadurai and grew up in Delhi. She recalls her family’s economic struggles vividly – “We went through very difficult times and sometimes providing even basic day-to-day necessities such as food, was a challenge. We still felt lucky that at least we had a roof over our head”. Geetha and her siblings took nothing for granted. Going to college in itself was uncertain and she is grateful for the many people who came forward to support her education, which helped her to find a pathway to a brighter future. “It is my father who insisted that I should consider going abroad for higher studies. So here I am 48 years later. Unfortunately he passed away just a few months before I completed my PhD in 1981″, says Ms. Geetha wistfully, knowing her father would have been very proud of her doctoral degree.
Ms. Geetha strongly believe that we are what we are because of the values given at home. Both her parents were very generous, and always helping others in spite of their own difficult times and shares the same generous spirit saying, “I really believe in the mission of Vision-Aid – to enable, educate and empower the less fortunate and am happy to do my own small part in this great mission.”
Ms. Geetha chose Vision-Aid in particular because her mother went blind due to Glaucoma and she saw her confidence completely shattered. She passed away after being legally blind over 20 years. Ms. Geetha hopes that her support will bring comfort with the gift of technology and learning for many under-privileged blind children in years to come. Ms. Geetha also said that she has been associated as a donor and supporter for over 10 years and is very impressed with the dedication, commitment and sincerity of the all-volunteer Vision-Aid USA team, and the impact it has been generating and felt confident that her gift in honor of her parents would be put to the best possible use by improving the learning for blind students in Madurai.
Vision-Aid Leadership Team Reaction
Vision-Aid Chairman Emeritus, Mr. Puran Dang, welcomed the news by saying “Ranga Geeta is very generous and compassionate. Her donation in her parents’ name is going to help so many with vision impairments. We at Vision-Aid are most grateful to Ranga Geeta and hr family. Helen Keller wrote, “Alone we can do little, together we can do much”. This Center will be a shining example of support for the visually impaired. Thank you Ranga Geeta!”
Ms. Veena Handa, Vice Chair of Vision-Aid expressed her appreciation by saying “Project Spring Board aims to illuminate the lives of many visually impaired students in blind schools across India. When donors like Ranga Geetha ji come forward to support the project by adopting a blind school, it helps us to scale the program, and we are very grateful for this”
Mr. Lalit Sudan, President of Vision-Aid said, “Ms. Ranga Geetha’s adoption of St. Joseph’s Blind School in Madurai is a very noble tribute to her late parents. Her wonderful gesture will impact the lives of many needy children and substantially increase their marketable skills with access to Vision-Aid’s innovative assistive learning tools, computers, mobility and communications enhancement education.”
Vision-Aid Founders Ramakrishna (Ram) Raju and Revathy Ramakrishna thanked Ranga Geetha saying “We can’t find words enough to thank Geetha Akka. We first met her over 10 years ago when Jeyanthi Ghatraju introduced her to Vision-Aid. Over the years, we have been lucky to build a very special and affectionate bond of friendship and love, and now this exciting new project takes it to a whole new level. Thank you Geetha Akka!”
The leadership team of Vision-Aid anyone who is interested in adopting a blind school under the new Project Spring Board initiative to reach out for more information. More information about Vision-Aid can be found at www.VisionAid.org.