Our society has a strange approach towards differently-abled people. We often think that they are incapable of doing things as the rest. However, they are no different and do not lack talent or determination. They often struggle to succeed because of their physical disability, social pressure, and lack of support from the society; making their struggle for success twice as difficult compared to a normal person.
In our society, more often than not women have to face more challenges than men. Imagine struggles of a woman who is blind and aspires to do something meaningful with her life. Twenty-seven-year-old Beno Zephine, a resident of Chennai, is one such woman who crossed all the social and physical barriers to become the first 100 percent blind IFS officer in the country.
Beno is visually-impaired since birth. Her parents never made her feel that she is less competent or weaker than others. Her father was a railway employee and her mother, a homemaker. They were a source of inspiration for Beno. They would encourage her to complete her education and move forward in life.
Although God denied vision to Beno, she was gifted with a sharp intellect. From her childhood, she was very good in studies. She completed her schooling from Little Flower Convent, a school for visually impaired children. Beno learned to read and write in Braille, and completed her post graduation in English from the Madras University.
Beno then decided to appear for the banking examination, where she got selected as a probationary officer in the State Bank of India. She started working in the bank, but had bigger dreams. She wanted to become an IFS officer.
Beno started preparing for the UPSC examination in her spare time. She could not secure good rank in the first attempt but did not give up. In 2013, she tried again and this time she secured 343rd rank in the Civil Services Examination. But destiny had some other plans.
Beno wa informed that 100 percent visually impaired candidates are not considered for IFS. She decided to fight for her dreams. She argued with the higher officials to bring a change in the rules. After a year long battle, Beno was finally cleared to join as an IFS officer.
Beno has successfully marked her name in the history by becoming the first visually impaired woman IFS officer of the country, making it through the 69-years-old IFS examination. In 2014, she joined the Indian Foreign Service and now she has been given her first posting in the Indian Embassy in Paris.
Beno credits this success to her parents who worked tirelessly to motivate and help her in every step of her life. Her mother would read her books for hours to avoid lack of preparation for her daughter and her father would take her everywhere she needed to go, providing her with all the necessary books and software.
Since many books required for examination preparation were not available in Braille, Beno’s father uploaded a software into her computer from where she could read all the books. Instead of being completely dependent on Braille, Beno took help of the software called Job Access With Speech (JAWS). With the help of this software, visually impaired people can also read the computer screens.
After overcoming numerous challenges and difficulties, Beno has made her dreams into reality. Her struggle to success after fighting her way through all the adverse situations is an inspiration for all of us.
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