About the founder of HELP THE BLIND FOUNDATION

Mr. D. K. Patel

D.K. Patel was a banker and economist who worked for an international bank in Hong Kong in a senior capacity for over two decades. He sadly passed away on February 10, 2020.  He is survived by his wife Niti Patel, who taught English as a second language in a local Chinese medium school and who is now retired, and two daughters who now live outside Hong Kong with their families. Mr. Patel was a connoisseur of Hindustani and Carnatic music and a great lover of books. Mrs. Patel is interested in linguistics, cooking and gardening and continues to reside in Hong Kong.

Mr. Patel started Help the Blind Foundation in Hong Kong and India together with other like-minded non-resident Indians living in Hong Kong and elsewhere who were ready to open their hearts and purses to help blind people in India. It was Mr. Patel’s opinion that the leading enemy of the blind is lack of education.

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In the year 2003, D K Patel visited Chennai from Hong Kong to attend a wedding. In the early morning, he went for a walk in Gandhi Nagar, Adayar, Chennai. While passing by the St Louis Institute for the Deaf and the Blind, he found that its hostel building was dilapidated. He found that he could not turn his back on the students of the Institute. He constructed a new building with hostel and classroom facilities for the blind students at the Institute. After this, his life intertwined with the welfare of the blind.

The building donated by Mr. Patel at a cost of US Dollars 200,000 was completed in 2005. In 2012, his Help the Blind Foundation presented a new building to the blind students of a secondary school run by the Indian Association for the Blind in Sundararajanpatti, Madurai, Tamilnadu. The building built at a cost of US Dollars 850,000 has several facilities for the blind, including classrooms, offices, a braille library, a computer center and a girls’ hostel. In early 2015, the Foundation donated a girl’s hostel and a playground to the Amalarakkini Special School for the Blind in Susainagar, near Aarani, Thiruvannamalai District, Tamilnadu.

Although the Foundation constructed buildings for special schools that cater for blind students in its early days,this is not its main function the present focus of the Foundation in Hong Kong is to raise funds in Hong Kong and elsewhere that are then remitted either directly to visually impaired students in India as financial assistance or to Help the Blind Foundation India for deployment in their activities in India.

In general, blind people in India end their education after high school. One of the reasons for this is their inability to pay the hostel fees of colleges in far-away cities that accept blind students. The Foundation provides scholarships to college-going blind students. This scholarship scheme began in 2008, when the aid was provided to college students who had completed their high school education in the St. Louis Institute in Chennai. Now, the scheme has expanded its reach to many over 53 colleges all over India. By providing scholarships to blind students for their tertiary education, this scheme helps them achieve employment in a trade or service.

In addition to providing scholarships to select visually-impaired students Help the Blind Foundation India is engaged in providing soft skills training to some of these students to make it easier for them to obtain employment. For further details, please refer to the Indian section.


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