Monday, December 30, 2013

Year in Review - 2013

Its that time of the year again.. when we look wistfully at the year gone by and hopefully at the year coming up..

This is also Esha’s annual roundup for you – in familiar bullet points J

This was a very good year for Esha. We entered into some lovely partnerships:

·         SOIL – School of Inspired Leadership. 4 students from SOIL are doing an year long internship with Esha, where they contribute one day a week to working with us. It has been a lovely experience with Rosemary, Sabrish, Sahil and Vipul. SOIL students recorded for CLABIL for the third year in a row during the Joy of Giving week. The relationship with everyone at SOIL has been too wonderful and enriching to be put into words.
·         The Sri Ram School, Aravali also was a year long partner. Class 7 students of TSRS Aravali went to a blind school as part of the school’s partnership with Esha. I always say that the blind don’t get greeting cards. But this year, students of Class 7 surprised us by making one card for every student that they were going to meet at the blind school. I was, simply, overwhelmed. Am taking the liberty of attaching a picture of the cards they made, along with their teachers.

Every single student of Class 7 also recorded for CLABIL. J Every visit to the blind school was an enriching experience for both sides – the guests always prepared something for their hosts – a song, a card, a skit.. the works. The enthusiasm of these children truly made one grateful for the work that happens through us. 180 students are today more sensitive to the needs of visual challenge, thanks to the initiative of their school.

·         The Kahaani Project was our third important partnership of the year. Now, we will share each other’s content and use it for common good. Thank you, Ajay for contributing over 50 files to CLABIL.

·         In May this year, we ran a 3 day training program on Open Source based personal computing for the visually challenged. The potential was immense. This training was run at 3 blind schools in the Delhi NCR region as a pilot. Unfortunately, that training will have to be part of our lessons learnt, till we are able to redesign the model and launch the program again. But one good thing came out of that training – we got an Open Source evangelist who is now working to familiarise his peers with the free software that makes personal computing so easy. Thanks to Archana, he also has a personal laptop of his own, and he uses it to good effect.

·         Braille cards continue to be popular and well liked. The Delhi center, which was operational for the most part, had to be closed (again!) because of the migration of the person doing that work here in Delhi. It is my fervent hope that these adults, who learn the Braille enabling of visiting cards, are in some way, doing things in their own villages too.

·         The theatre workshops had a very good run in the first half of the year and slowed down in the second half. Am now planning to have public workshops and am working towards getting the space for that.. if that happens, we will be able to offer workshops to a lot more people.. you can wish us luck on that one, and yes, if someone you know is looking for a fun activity for their team in the NCR region, do think of the 9Tanki theatre workshop. It will be a lot of fun!

·         This year, we ran an exhaustive market test study on the Tactile mazes and on the basis of the results, we have had to take the tough decision of discontinuing tactile mazes as an Esha product. But they will always remain special. You can see this much loved, but unsustainable product here:

·         CLABIL continued to grow – organically. With volunteers and partners and loving friends. We close the year with 1960 files  - just short of 2000. But there is a lot more work to be done.

I noticed that the update is really long, and we have only tried to sum up the most important points.. J There is no end to how far we can go, when we travel with friends.. so i will end the year with the emotion one feels most at this time – Gratitude. For every single Friend of Esha. For everyone who has been with us as we complete 9 years and enter our 10th year in January 2014, and for everyone who joined the caravan along the way.

For every prayer that was sent up for us, and for every hand that helped.

But most of all, for the God that chose an instrument, and kept believing in it.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy 2014!

The Social Project at SOIL

On 22nd of October, we started a small social experiment at SOIL - School of Inspired Leadership.

The project was simple. A set of books on a table, with a collection box next to them. You pick up a book, pay what you think is fair for that book, and take it. No one mans the counter - night or day. The piggy bank is not locked, its in the college canteen. its a small earthern gullak, the kind that cannot be locked, can only be broken.
All proceeds were to be donated to Esha, but I really wasn't thinking of the money in this project.
How was this project to be sustained? When people want to donate books, they leave them there. That simple. Two other volunteers have already donated books.

Why did I do this?

1.       Because, inherently, I love books. And I want them to reach more people while we do fundraising.

2.       Because this is a world that shares very little and wastes much. I want us to share. To reuse. And to waste less. Especially, books.

3.       Because I want to believe in the inherent goodness of people. Because I do believe that an experiment like this needs no policing. Sure you can pick up a book and pay nothing. But will you ? Sure, you can run away with the collection box. But will you? I wanted to find out.

Sometime in mid December, we  broke open that gullak - and were pleasantly surprised. More than the money, it restored one's faith in the inherent goodness around one..

A few days later, Rosemary shared the video. Am sharing it with you. The opening of that gullak was such a celebration!

Meanwhile, the project continues in the SOIL canteen at Gurgaon. If you are ever there, do look up our book stall and see if you like a book, or if you want to donate some..

Monday, December 23, 2013

Punjabi Quizzes in Audio added today

Today , we have added 3 quizzes in Punjabi. As the year draws to a close, we will try to add more Punjabi content. Njoy!

The Delhi Quiz

Indian Folk Crafts

Ladakh and Sikkim.

These quizzes are already available in English. :)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Celebrating Special Ability..

The images we give to our children in the course of a normal day defines our world for them. and for us. Which is why this effort by Ekansh is sooooo commendable. Time that special ability became a normal part of our lives.. these coloring sheets have me very very enthused..

Do try them out .. here..

And to celebrate the Disability day on Dec 3 (imho, there is no such thing as "Disability Day" . To me, everyone has some special ability - physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, whatever. Some of us need some physical assistance. Some of us need mental help, most of us need spiritual help, and emotional help. )

BUT, since there is a "Dis-ability" Day, we at Esha decided to celebrate it by recording quotations on Ability.

You can find the audio file here. It is free for all.

Coming up: A REALLY BIG update to the online library - we are adding over 100 files at one go!