Friday, January 22, 2016

Founder's Note - Why Tour De Vision is Important

Some of you have participated in a Blind Walk perhaps. If you haven't, just close your eyes and try to walk at any normal public place - the park in front of your house, a tourist attraction in your city - anything at all. And you will know how accessible our public places are.
I have always maintained that we are a small part of society - small, but hopefully, not insignificant.

When we do Blind Walks, Theater Workshops and our biggest event - Tour De Vision, we take tiny, but important steps towards an inclusive, sensitised citizen population. Every person on the road who thinks about an inclusive road is an important part of an inclusive society.

Our riders raise funds for the cause of Esha (this year, we are focusing on the CLABIL Outreach project), but more importantly, they carry the message of an inclusive society.

When you contribute for your friends, when you share this on our own facebook page, when you hold a braille card in your hand, or close your eyes in the park for 2 minutes, when you count the stairs going up or down - be sure of one thing - what you are doing is not time consuming - and it's very, very significant. Our thoughts make our society. Inclusive thoughts make inclusive societies.

Tour De Vision 2016... More Power to Inclusion!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Blind Walk at Cyber Hub!!

“Walk by faith even when you can’t see, as it holds enough light for those who want to believe”

Blind walks give us an opportunity to experience the difficulty in accessing the public spaces when one lacks sight. Sometimes in our busy routine we tend to forget our basic responsibilities. An inclusive environment for our fellow beings is something that’s long forgotten. A brilliant design, be it of any product or business should be thought about keeping in mind not only the masses but also the extreme users of the product. Activities like blind walk remind us our responsibilities.

We had conducted 3 blind walks last year in Galleria and Leisure Valley. We planned to conduct one at the busy Cyber Hub to engage the corporate employees in the social experiment. The response we received was different from the other two walks. In our previous walks we received immediate interest for volunteering and experiencing the walk from the public. In cyber hub, on a busy Wednesday afternoon the corporate employees showed less enthusiasm in joining the walk as they were busy with their daily routine and schedule at work. We wanted to grasp their attention and make them experience the walk.

We were 10 volunteers from Esha and SOIL, we demonstrated the walk to the crowd. There was one volunteer from the crowd who was curious and agreed to participate. Slowly it turned out that many folks were interested in trying it out. Around 50 corporate employees participated. Group of friends, colleagues who had come for a team get-together, reporters from media started joining the walk.

We got diverse responses from the participants after the walk. Some were surprised, some were taken aback, some struggled to cross a stretch, some had to be guided for every step they kept, some walked really fast bumping into the crowd. There was this one person who came up to us and gave his mail id and asked us to call him when we conduct other events. Overall it was an enriching experience that had sensitized the corporate mass at the cyber hub.

The media coverage helped us share the message to a wider audience. Gurgaon Times, NavBharat Times, Times of India Gurgaon and Bhaskar News Gurgaon covered the walk. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Esha's 12th year.. and a lot to look forward to!

Writing the year end note of Esha is always such a pleasure. As you probably know, we finished 11 years this January 5. This year, I hope to share our recap of the previous year, and also our plans for the year ahead.

This year, our existing partnerships- SOIL, The Sri Ram School and Copal Partners continued to remain strong and we were fortunate to partner with Abhay Mohanta of We4U. They have contributed a whopping 900 files covering an entire gamut of academic content in Oriya. So now our Oriya friends can expect a windfall as soon as we are done cataloging.

 Some other partnerships are being discussed as we speak, and I am particularly excited about some of them. Keeping fingers crossed, and hoping that we are able to add them in the next year’s pipeline. 

 ·         On Theater workshops, Raju has concluded another successful year. Thanks to Maithreyi, a friend of Esha, and Mr. Sharad Agarwal, we did 10 workshops across 5 PSBB Schools in South India. The feedback was positive and it was the biggest single order of the year for Raju.

·         On CLABIL, we are closing the year with a very successful 4916 files. This year,we had to take the painful decision to delink the files from our partner site – inclusiveplanet. The site has been down since its Founder, Rahul Cherian, tragically passed away. We were waiting and hoping for a revival, but looks like that may never happen.

·         Tour De Vision 2016 is on track.. this year, it promises to be bigger, better, with many more participants.

·         We did the Painting Workshop at the Junta Blind School again this year. You won’t believe me if I tell you that we can close our eyes and draw flowers, leaves and even basic landscapes. But its possible. And if you are participating in the TDV this year, or if you were with us last year, you have held, or will hold, such a card in your hands.
It IS possible to draw without seeing. Our painting workshop at the Junta Blind School.
·         We also did the Blind Walk in a big way. Not only did we complete 5 Blind Walks in 2015 (getting enough press for most of them), but also that SOIL would like their alumni to  do the Blind Walk wherever they are. So watch out for Blind Walk in Bangalore and Chennai soon! It’s a very simple thing – choose a public place, give people canes and ask them to navitage the place with their eyes cloed. 5 minutes of this activity enlightens people to the fact that our public spaces are inaccessible. Each Blind Walk sensitises at least 100 people.
Creating More Inclusive Public Spaces is EVERYONE's responsibility

·         Our Festive Braille Cards managed to generate awareness in at least 10,000 people who had never seen a Braille Card before. As people tagged their gifts with these beautiful cards that say “Happy Diwali”, “Season’s Greetings”,  and “Happy Birthday” , we saw a small but significant change.
Braille Cards that truly make your gifts stand out.
·         Read Fests were a delight too. This year, we generated almost 500 files from the various Read Fests held at schools, colleges and offices. 


And in the year 2016, our focus areas will be:

CLABIL Outreach
 Taking CLABIL to everyone who can benefit from it. We plan to cover the country, taking the audio content with us. We will try to reach Gram Panchayats, village children, slum children in urban areas, and of course, blind schools. When we close the 12th year of esha, it is my fervent hope and desire that CLABIL will have reached at least 10,000 beneficiaries who are using it regularly, and at least 1 lakh children who have access to it and are aware. These are 2 separate targets – outreach is 1 lakh over the next year, and repeat users are to reach 10,000. It’s a massive target for an organisation that has at best done exploratory outreach so far, so you can wish us luck. This is why, this year, funds are going to be important to esha.
Creating Inclusive Citizens of tomorrow
In 2015, through Blind Walk, Blind School visits and Theater Workshops, at least 1000 Citizens of tomorrow became Inclusive Human Beings. This year, we hope to keep the momentum on that, and at least double that figure. That might look like a small number, but our inclusion efforts are not educational. They are experiential. Every child experiences special ability and at the end of that experience, they are truly transformed. Every child’s experience needs special attention, so I will not target aggressive numbers on this one.

 So there, those are our focus areas for next year.

Thank you, once again, for every ounce of support. It has helped Esha live for 11 years. As the 12th year begins, and we become more audacious, that support will mean a lot more. And honestly, I don’t know how to end this email. So Happy New Year, and Happy 11th to all of us.