For Janki Goud, the world was a big dark place not so long ago. As a young blind woman living in a small village in Madhya Pradesh, India, Goud says she thought she might never make it out of her hometown. But that all changed when she first started taking judo lessons as a means of providing herself with some protection against the risk of sexual assault and rape. Some 4,882 cases of rape were reported in the region in 2016, and according to Jayashree Kumar, the program manager of the international non-governmental organization Sightsavers, blind and disabled women are particularly vulnerable. But for Goud, who rarely even spoke when she first began the program, according to Sightsavers organizers, learning judo proved to be more than just a means of self-protection.
“Before learning judo, I didn’t use to go anywhere,” Goud said. “[People] thought I couldn’t do anything.”
Now, she is an outspoken advocate for the group and a 2017 national champion in blind judo. She also traveled to her first international tournament last year, winning bronze at the International Blind Sports Federation competition in Uzbekistan.
“After finishing school, my plan is to become a judo instructor and teach children,” she said in a video for Sightsavers. “I want to teach other brothers and sisters like me because I want to build confidence in them, too. I want to tell other blind girls like me, that if she wanted to learn judo she can come to me. Teaching is important to me, if she asks I’ll definitely teach her because then she can also compete and have success for herself and her family, like me. She can make her name.”
Watch Janki and other Sightsavers judokas below.