Life through a Lens

Gold Award holder Shibnath

Shibnath Mondol is 19 years old and has been blind since birth, but this hasn't stopped him achieving great things, including his Gold Award. Here he explains his inspiring Award story and why we are all capable of more than we think.

"I’ve been blind since birth so I see the world through a different lens. My journey so far has not been easy; in fact, it has been full of challenges and adversities but I haven’t let them get the better of me. I face them with courage.

I owe this courage to two things: First, the Ramakrishna Mission, which instilled great values in me and second, The International Award for Young People which equipped me with the skills to face life’s challenges. Before taking part in the Award, I was painfully shy but now I can communicate and interact with anybody confidently - I actually enjoy it! I am proud to say that I have successfully completed my Gold Award this year, and am looking forward to receiving my Gold Award certificate and badge. The Award has shown me a world of opportunity I hadn’t seen before and, through the many skills I have acquired and with the guidance of my amazing Award leader, I’ve learnt how to embrace these opportunities.

The importance of teamwork

The Adventurous Journey was great fun, as I’m sure many agree. I participated in rock climbing which is something I had never even considered being available to me; I never imagined it possible for visually impaired people to take part in activities like this so I was filled with excitement before I’d even started. Rock climbing is a thrilling experience and one I have come to love. The encouragement I received from my team members to keep climbing higher when I doubted myself made me realise how important teamwork is in achieving your goals.

Contributing to my community

Of the four sections of the Gold Award though it was the Service section that particularly stood out for me. Being a lover of nature and the environment, I opted for ‘environmental cleaning’ which I embraced wholeheartedly; I became the leader of a group of peers and organised campus cleaning drives at our institution which gave me immense satisfaction whilst also equipping me with leadership skills. Not only did I realise the immediate positive impact of my work on the community but I also learnt about the importance of protecting our environment for the future. I felt immense pride in teaching others in the community about it too. My attitude has shifted completely and because of the Service section of the Award I have become a committed member of the community and appreciate that we all have a responsibility to one another and the environment.  

In the future, I want to continue being associated with the Award in any way I can. I would love to be a rock climbing instructor for Adventurous Journeys because I now have the skills to teach and support other visually impaired young people to climb as I did. And yes, I will rock!"