Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 11th 2014 Contents B3
Friday, April 11, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
"Some store owners do
not even want me to
stand in front their busi-
ness to play my guitar."
PHOTOS: RISHI RAGOONATH
him as their own child. They have no
children of their own.
Although he displayed vast intelli-
gence, at age nine, his primary school
teacher at Palmyra Hindu School
realised he was not advancing academ-
ically and asked his caregivers to take
him to have his eyes tested.
It was at this point his relatives
realised he was born with an incurable
condition known as macular degener-
In spite of this impediment, with the
help of a friend who assisted him in
reading, Ragoonanan wrote the Sec-
ondary Entrance Assessment (SEA)
passing for the Pleasantville Secondary
School. However, as his sight deteri-
orated it became increasingly difficult
and frustrating for him to keep up with
His aunt sought and got a transfer
for him to the Ste Madeleine Secondary
School, where his primary school friend
However, the friend was in a higher
form and was unable to assist Ragoo-
nanan as he had done in primary
Frustrated by his inability to cope,
Ragoonanan dropped out of secondary
"Life was really difficult for me and
I could not accept my impairment."
As a high school drop-out, Ragoo-
nanan spent his days at home, as he
sought employment and got rejected
because of his disability.
At age 18 he found love, got married
and fathered two children, a boy, now
three and a girl, age two.
Sight and financial challenges soon
put a wedge in the romance, resulting
in separation of the couple. His wife
left with their son and he was left with
his daughter who was born premature.
A job at the Blind Welfare Association
to earn milk money for his daughter
was short-lived. He said he was fired
from that job.
Attempts to find employment else-
where turned out to be a harrowing
"There were no jobs for me. I took
my rejection and at night I prayed to
God to help me so I will have a future."
He became interested in playing
instruments after viewing YouTube
"I started playing the guitar when I
was around 18 or 19-years-old. I just
decided to pick up the instrument and
try. Music wasn t really my passion,
but due to my circumstances I had to
turn to an alternative where I can make
money. It has become what I love now,"
said the well-spoken Ragoonanan.
"I am doing this because I have no
choice. I need money, I have a daughter
to take care of. I want to go somewhere
in life. I don t want to stay home and
do nothing. I want to set an example
for my daughter."
He is taking classes with a Swedish
music tutor and is pursing CXC subjects
"I am at a grade eight with the guitar,
a grade five with the violin and grade
four with piano. Hopefully I will get a
scholarship. I want to go to America
where there are systems in place for
people like myself."
But, even on the streets he has hard
time. "Some store owners do not even
want me to stand in front their business
to play my guitar. Schoolchildren some-
times try to steal my money. Some
people don t realise I am blind and they
make insulting remarks."
Despite this, he is optimistic about
his future. "I firmly believe I am going
to make it."
Ragoonanan has the support of his
aunt who is not ashamed by how he
makes his money. "It has been very
hard for him. When people see visu-
ally-impaired people they don t know
how to treat them," Seemungal said.
She proudly recalled that at age 14,
Ragoonanan went to Pakistan where
he played a cricket match with the West
Indies blind cricket team.
'I am doing this
because I have no
choice. I need money I
have a daughter to
take care of. I want to
go somewhere in life. I
don't want to stay
home and do nothing.
example for my
Visually-impaired, jobless dad, determined to achieve music degree
Visually-impaired musician Adrian
Ragoonanan is refusing to let his dis-
ability distract him from his goal of
achieving his degree in music.
Unable to get a job to pursue studies
abroad, Ragoonanan has chucked aside
his self-consciousness to become a
Over the past week, he has taken up
residence outside Scotia Bank, High
Street, San Fernando, to demonstrate
his self-taught musical prowess on the
A shoe box, placed before him, is an
open invitation for passers-by to show
their appreciation with fistful of dollars.
He also plays the violin, viola and piano.
In an interview, Ragoonanan said
the money is to help maintain his two-
year-old daughter as well as to fund
his studies, if he is not granted a schol-
arship to do so.
His life has been one of struggle,
but Ragoonanan is not fazed. At the
age of three-months-old his biological
parents separated and his father migrat-
ed to Canada. Ragoonanan was placed
in the care of his aunt Carmen and
uncle Teddy Seemungal who raised
resorts to the street
WHAT IS MACULAR DEGENERATION
According to the American
Macular Degeneration Foundation
macular degeneration is an
incurable eye disease that is the
leading cause of vision loss for
those aged 55 and older in the
United States, affecting more than
ten million Americans.
It results in a loss of vision in the
centre of the visual field (the
macula) because of damage to the
retina. It occurs in "dry" and "wet"
forms. It is a major cause of
blindness and visual impairment in
older adults -
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