Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Saksham Stall at the World Book Fair

The Sunday was spent at the World Book Fair.

Pleasant Surprise no. 1: A Punjabi Mushayara in Seminar Hall no. 1, Hall no. 14. Some lovely poetry was heard.

Pleasant Surprise no. 2: The Saksham stall at the same hall. I was asked to register, then given my name card in Braille. Then, we were blindfolded and taken inside another space to play 4 games. The volunteers are happy people who try their best to help you do better. To our credit, we scored all 40 points!

There, I also met a kind gentleman from Saksham, who took the time to talk, get their cards braille enabled, showed us a new kind of plastic brailler (which, by the way, had the same issues as the metal brailler) and also gave us the sad news that a brailler now costs 35000 rupees! We discussed CLABIL with enthusiasm and I also got a demo of the awesome Daisy Reader.

We exchanged information and decided to work on areas of synergy. I look forward to that one!

Sanat Sir from Saksham who spent some time talking. I then requested him to please pose with this powerful poster.

There, we got a perfect score.. with some help from the lovely volunteers who remain unseen

That's the stall for you - in a corner, but definitely not quiet.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Namchi Blind School , Sikkim

Its a gruelling 3 hour drive from Gangtok. At the end of which, you arrive at a small, beautiful building in a lovely place. It is early January, it is cold, and there is no one about.

The experience at Namchi Blind School cannot be described in words. Perhaps that's why this blog post is so belated. Of all the experiences that I have shared at Esha, few have been as deep as this one.

The school has never heard of audio. They were delighted when we told them that we could send them audio content. "What is it like?" asked the principal sir. On the spot, I downloaded some content from the library on the smartphone and played it to them. Their faces went from lack of recognition to beaming smiles.. "This is really good!"

We spoke about other things.. the lack of resources (but that's for another post), how much the school administration is trying. They didn't need to tell me about the lack of resources. It was obvious.

And then I met Tenzing sir. He is an SP at the Namchi Blind School, but every weekend, he is at the school. When the school's only hall was damaged in a fire, he didn't ask his orderlies to paint for him. He saw that the school had no funds, took a paint bucket and paint brush and just got started. On that cold winter day, he was out, trying to repair the plumbing of the school. A pipe had burst and he wanted to use that opportunity to create 2 taps instead of one, because the children don't wash up properly with only one tap and so many of them. Yes, people like that exist.

The principal, the few students who were there.. everyone..

When I asked them what we could record in audio for them, everyone told us unianimously that they wanted only English. "Your files the English is understandable. we want this only."

Some days ago, the Devnar Foundation in Hyderabad also asked for no Telugu, only English.

And I wont write more about the personal trip that was Namchi.

Photographs from our Facebook are available here.

Devnar Foundation for the Blind, Hyderabad, and the Namchi Blind School, Sikkim

Between the end of December 2013 and January 2014, we forged 2 important partnerships.

It was a pleasure to visit and partner with the Devnar Foundation for the Blind. Here, I ran a Theater workshop training for students. We started the day with about 15 students, and at the end, only 4 students were selected for further training on the workshop. Before the end of February, we will be ready to deliver 9Tanki workshops in Hyderabad. Do spread the word. 9Tanki workshops are a hit wherever they are conducted. The uniqueness of the Hyderabad model is that for the first time, we will have 2 facilitators doing 9Tanki.

Presenting some pictures from that visit. They are on our Facebook account.