Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Journey to Ithaca

Many years ago, a kind teacher gave us  a poem to read. The Journey to Ithaca.

When one sent 4 very intelligent young people to a not so well to do Blind School in Delhi, India, one felt just a little bit like that teacher and a little bit like the Kaveri amma in Swades.
(In that film, Kaveri Amma sent him to collect rent from a tenant who is not paying up. Watch that shot sometime for the look on Kaveri Amma's face. (couldn't find it on youtube) )

After reading these guest posts, one feels a lot of gratitude.. it is one thing to associate with Esha because one wants to do something good. Quite another to open one's heart to blindness as a cause. I often tell people that once you have visited a blind school, you are never the same person again. With these young people, I have actually seen that transformation happen. Their eyes light up just a little differently now when we talk about our work at Esha, our shared vision for the year ahead.

Today's gratitude, is for the Hope of Ithaca in our lives, and for being a small boat on that journey to Ithaca for some very young, very committed people. Many years later, as they send a young person to a blind school, mindful of the way they are about to change their perspective, I hope that they think of Ithaca, look up and wink, aware that they have now become a boat to Ithaca.

A day to Remember

When you don't know what you see is what you understand, life takes you to a place where people can't see yet can understand.

Last week was one of the most memorable experience I have ever had. Esha foundation gave me this opportunity to visit the andhvidyalaya - The school for the blind. A small place with smaller room but enough for a lot of students to study and live. This school is specially designed for the blind children to learn. That day even brought us to meet Nirdosh, a partially blind youngster. His vision might be partial but his vision in life was far sighted. He has got his admission in Hansraj College and will be pursuing his degree in political science. He aspires to prepare a clear the UPSC exams in the future for which he has started coaching too. Nirdosh uses the Braille fluently and helps Esha foundation with typing Braille words on greeting cards, visiting cards, stickers etc. He is very efficient and dedicated to work he does. Overall it was a wonderful experience with loads of learning. I am sure we would have more to cherish in the future. 

Vrishin Bhamri

Meeting an Inspiration

It was 16th July, our first visit to Andh Maha Vidhalaya..

In contrast to the name, it opened the doors of high vision. Entering the school opened our handicapped sight, what we have been seeing so far was just a matter of chance. But, what we got to see there was an opportunity. There were these young kids, supporting each other selflessly. It was learning and inspiration flowing through all the corners of school. Students from all age groups were holding hands and playing, studying, sharing jokes. It reminded us of our school days, the laughter, fun, friends, learning, and laboratories. So engrossed we were looking into every nook and corner and a voice called us from back. He was Nirdosh, a young partially blind boy. What a positive aura he brought along!

Nirdosh is an aspiring UPSC candidate with an excellent academic record. He has managed to get admission in the prestigious college of Delhi University- Hansraj College, in Political Sc. Meeting him and knowing about his achievements was an eye opener for us! So humble and composed he stood, telling about how he manged to accomplish so much. He had such a passion for learning, which could be motivating for all of us..

A day to remember, a person to was truly a motivating visit! 

Pooja Singh

We can do without eye-sight, not without a Dream, a Vision!

We are very often asked about the most memorable day of our life. At that juncture, our eyes start rolling, mind starts taking us down into the memory lane, we press hard, push our thoughts, try to recollect something and eventually end up introspecting what significant things we have been doing for the past so many years that can qualify to become an answer to this question. Apart from the good-bad times with family, friends, academics, sports, professional life, have we really done something which is unique, selfless and has got nothing to do with our own personal benefits and just for the joy of giving – more often than not, the answer might turn out to be a ‘NO’.

We consider ourselves to be fortunate enough, that our answer to this question is a definite ‘YES’, thanks to ‘School of Inspired Leadership’ for their association with ‘Esha Clabil - the people for blind’. We were fortunate to get an opportunity to visit the ‘Andh Mahavidyalaya’ at Karol Baug. The day was 09 Jul 2014 and the purpose of visit as conveyed to us, was to get a piece of work done from Chandan, a beneficiary of Esha, which helped him earn some pocket money. We also had to gift another beneficiary, Nirdosh a brailler. But what was not explicitly said yet was another purpose was clear to us only after the day spent at the blind school. Minutes of total power failure at night, and we feel so helpless and agitated. For us it is a challenge to walk even a single step with closed eyes but for the visually disabled, life is all about challenges.

They are so full of enthusiasm, at their schools, learning music and computers apart from other subjects and playing in the evening in the small space outside the school. Out of curiosity we ask one of the individual about coping with the expectations and pressure of going to normal school after the eighth grade at the blind school and what he said will be etched in my mind forever - “Sirji- mushkile toh sabhi ki zindagi mein hoti hai bas farak itna hai ki kisi ki zindagi mein jyada hoti hai toh kisi ki zindagi mein kam hoti hain.” We were stunned at his reply and saluted the spirit from the bottom of our hearts. Now that’s not an attitude of an ordinary person, it requires immense courage, determination to say and believe in something like this.

While we were waiting at the school office for Nirdosh, who was out in the city seeking admission to first year degree, we saw a couple who had come to admit their child to the school because of his partial visual impair and their financial constraints. It was touching to observe how the child, at a mere age of five was all set to start a new phase of his life. He was clinging tight to his mother, like he would never want to let go of her. But we were sure that despite the initial pain of living away from his family, he was destined to have a bright future like most of the students there do.

Nirdosh, who is partially blind arrives, accompanied by Rajesh who is totally blind. Rajesh was in final year in Hansraj college and he was helping Nirdosh with formalities in colleges. Rajesh was acknowledging his classmates for being considerate towards him. I feel those who have someone like Rajesh in their class are the lucky ones, because they learn lessons on life every single day. The boys there were each other’s support system. A partially blind guy would try to figure out the way to the school from the main road with as much blurred sight of his and would hold the totally blind friend by his shoulder and very intelligently walk to school. That is the power of mindfulness!

Back to Nirdosh, on talking to him about his day so far, we learnt that he and Rajesh were coming back from few top notch colleges in Delhi. Nirdosh has completed his 12th grade with 83% from a normal school. And yet again, we were swept off our feet. And here he was, with dreams to getting admitted to one of the top-notch colleges in the city, not wanting to settle for anything mediocre. Another huge lesson learnt – we often succumb to mediocrity just to avoid going an extra mile.

It was one of the most insightful days of our lives, with so many learnings that we carried with us as we walked out of there –It’s not about the sight, it’s about the vision that takes you places in life!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tactile Art with visually challenged children

Today, we got an email from a Friend of Esha - with a simple link :

What lovely, enthusiastic people, and what amazing work.

Do read.. We recommend it very much!