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NGO Project Report

NGO Project Report

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Social Responsibility Project Report

Submitted in Partial fulfillment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Bachelor of Business Management of Christ University

By Yogesh Reg. No. 1011025, 1011045, 1011054

Under the guidance of

Jasmine Simi

Department of Management Studies CHRIST UNIVERSITY Bangalore 2010 – 2011

DECLARATION
I declare that this report titled, “Social Responsibility Project”, is a record of bonafide project work carried out by me under the supervision of Mrs. Jasmine Simi, Academic coordinator, I Semester BBM Section-A, Department of Management Studies, Christ University, Bangalore.

I further declare that this has not previously formed the basis of the award of any degree, diploma or other similar title of recognition.

Place: _______________________ Date: ________________________

Deepti Srinivasan, Rajat Prasad and Yogesh 1011025, 1011045, 1011054

CERTIFICATE

GUIDE CERTIFICATE

This is to certify that this report titled “Social Responsibility Project”, submitted to Christ University in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Bachelor of Business Management, is a record of the original work carried out by Deepti Srinivasan, Rajat Prasad and Yogesh under my guidance and supervision.

Place: Bangalore Date: Mrs. Jasmine Simi

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to express my profound gratitude to all those who have been instrumental in the preparation of this project report. I wish to place on records, my deep gratitude to my Academic Coordinator Mrs. Jasmine Simi, for her expert advice and help. I would like to thank Dr. (Fr). Thomas. C. Mathew, Vice Chancellor and Dr. Jain Mathew, HOD, for their support. I am deeply grateful to Samarthanam, Bangalore, for the Co-operation extended by them to help connect with the objective of Social Responsibility and furnishing the required information. Lastly, I would like to thank God, my Parents and Friends for their constant help and support.

Deepti Srinivasan, Rajat Prasad, Yogesh Register No. 1011025, 1011045, 1011054

Social responsibility project at SAMARTHANAM

VISION AND MISSION: "Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of us all -- the apathy of human beings - Helen Keller."

FOCUS:

The goal of Samarthanam is to constantly search out for avenues to provide educational opportunities, training facilities and knowledge centers. The education is not just being confined to the basic knowledge of numerals and letters, but also as per the demands of the modern day world, the information technology enabled, thus enhancing the spectrum of opportunities. There are several case studies to substantiate this fact the effort is not to prove a point to anyone, but to boost the levels of confidence and instill a sense of self reliance and self esteem in the hearts and minds of the disabled and disadvantaged, thus rooting out any stigma and phobia that is generally associated with them. As the adage goes “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, was not overlooked, with due encouragement and facilities also being extended to nurture the talents for participation in sports, extracurricular, music, singing, and art related activities. This is being undertaken to mould and develop well molded personality of the wards and preparing them to take on the challenges of life and the world.

HISTORY:

"You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only

need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love - Martin Luther King, Jr."

Having gone through the trials and tribulations of disability in their own lives there well educated, visually impaired young men lead by highly motivated and determined G.K Mahantesh, the organization came to exist with a vision to provide every possible opportunity to children with disabilities and economically weaker backgrounds to nurture their skills and talent, thus enabling them to compete and conquer became a part of the main stream community overcoming all prejudices. It was an uphill task in a society rid with all kinds of paradoxes, but sheer hard work, determination and perseverance have allowed the organization to overcome all those initial hurdles. Initially having started by providing opportunities for the visually impaired youngsters and girls, as time rolled by, the trust spreads its wings to include children with other disabilities, economically marginalized children from far flung rural areas who suffered apathy and lack of opportunities. It was an uphill task beyond the any doubt but sheer perseverance and dogged efforts bore the fruit to the present status.

INITIATIVES TAKEN UP BY SAMARTHANAM:
ASHAKIRAN: "Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave - Lord Brougham." Ashakiran was the primary education scheme floated by the government of Karnataka to encourage a greater number of children from rural, semi rural and semi urban areas to enroll and educate. The trust, initially established a hostel facility for children going to mainstream primary schools in the Hulimavu village area in rural Bangalore.

HOSTEL AND BOARDING FACILITIES: "Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave - Lord Brougham." Having started with providing free hostel facilities for the girls with visual impairment, over a period of time the facility was extended to girls with other forms of disability as well, latter facilitating children belonging to economically weaker sections. Geographically the scheme was to provide shelter girl children from urban and rural Bangalore but the facility is being availed by children from far flung impoverished rural areas as well as neighboring states The safe and secure shelter under vigilant supervision, hygienic and nutritious food and their safe transportation are all taken care of by the organization with the help from donors, patrons and volunteers.

IED - INTEGRATED EDUCATION FOR DISABLED:

"Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave - Lord Brougham."

Integrated Education for the Disabled is a Government of India, Human Resources Development ministry initiative that was given a fillip in 2001.The idea behind this initiative is to gradually bring on to the platform the disabled children as well as children from economically backward sections into the mainstream education facilities, thus “providing a single education platform without any discrimination.” The organization successfully was able to enroll more than 350 children in around 70 government and private schools along with a good number of trained teachers to assist in educating children with different disabilities.

JNANAVIKAS:

"Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave - Lord Brougham."

Improvement in quality of learning in government Schools is yet another program Samarthanam had initiated in government schools with able support of Child Vikas International, a THEMA based funding organization. The objective of this program is to improve quality of life and education of the disadvantaged children studying in government schools. As part of this program, full-fledged libraries in six rural areas in Bangalore are set up and working and plans are afoot to expand further to reach greater number of schools and children.

VIDYAPRASAD:

"Never before has man had such capacity to control his own environment, to end thirst and hunger, to conquer poverty and disease, to banish illiteracy and massive human misery. We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world -- or to make it the last - John F. Kennedy."

According to a UNESCO report, around 13.5 million children in the age group of 6 -13 years are out of school in India. Despite the country’s stunning economic growth, a large chunk of India’s children does not have access to schools because of poverty and malnutrition. Malnutrition is detected to be one of the root causes of disability in the growing children in developing countries like India. Prevention of malnutrition related disability along with increasing literacy rate is the major of task of this intervention. In 2002 the government of Karnataka had initiated a mid day meal program to tackle these twin problems, to see more children enrolling and ultimately bringing down the rate of illiteracy and preventing nutrition related disabilities and hence, VIDYAPRASAD was rolled out. The Department of Education, Government of Karnataka had recognized and handpicked a few non- profit organizations with good track record to implement this program, and SAMARTHANAM was one of them. It had established an ultra modern kitchen in the outskirts of the city, employed well trained cooks and supervisory staff headed by another hard working and efficient team leader who leads the team with a lot of passion and zeal, this paid off and the results have started showing, the whole operation of procurement, production in the hygienic conditions and well chalked out transport system the order book started growing. At the moment the number of kitchens has risen to two and the areas have spread from Bangalore city to suburbs, rural and schools in the underdeveloped areas of the city and adjoining Anekal taluk.

The number of meals supplied at present stands at an astounding 35000 covering 123 schools in the above mentioned areas. What has this done? As per the statistics available, the following:

* Increased attendance and enrolment in schools. * Prevention of disability * Improved health of the children * Enhanced learning abilities * Reduced dropout rates. SWADHERA - HOME FOR WOMEN IN DISTRESS:

"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much - Mother Teresa."

FOCUS:

STFD had also added another operation to its portfolio to reach out to women in distress. In 2008 a home was started with the aid from ministry of women and child development, government of India. The home caters to around 50 women belonging to different parts of the Karnataka; this number includes women suffering from various disabilities, destitute widows and those belonging to economically backward classes. They are provided shelter and food. Counseling services are offered in the required cases. The women are offered vocational training and suitable placements subsequently.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CELL:

"Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important - Bill Gates."

Realizing the importance of the information technology in the present day context SAMARTHANAM was quick to react to the fact the vital position information technology would occupy in terms of education and employment opportunities for the disabled youngsters. It had established the facility ably supported by some of the renowned IT majors. The idea behind the concept is to familiarize the disabled children to learn and theme computers to enable them to have an access to the internet and browsers to gain knowledge make them computer savvy and to make theme of the skills acquired to climb up in the employment ladder with greater confidence, competence and ability.

TECHVISION (It’s our Vision through the eyes of Technology):

The Project TechVision is a multi-dimensional and holistic initiative promoted by the Information Technology (IT) Cell of the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled. As the slogan emphasizes, this project aims to theme information technology as a tool for empowerment and provide a ‘vision for life’ to the visually-impaired, children with other disabilities along with young ones from weaker sections of the society.

The mission of TechVision is to create IT awareness, provide knowledge and specialized skills to empower the children to become self-sufficient and independent enough in order to take advantage of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in the IT-enabled society.

This program also provides specialized training in English language communication and personality development.

* TechVision consists of the following satellite initiatives to support its core mission * Advanced Computer Training (ACT) - functional * Excellence through Communication in English Language (EXCEL) – Speaking and Writing skills improvement- functional * Personality Enrichment and All-round Learning (PEARL) - functional * Digital Book Library (DBLIB) - functional

PROJECTS UNDER PIPELINE:

* On-line programs for Accelerated Learning (OPAL) * Career Oriented Coaching (COC) - BPO & Vocational Training, Coaching for Entrance & Competitive Exams (e.g. Management, Banking, Civil Services), Technical Writing, Medical Transcription etc. * JNANA VAHINI (Voice of Knowledge) – a Radio Channel to Broadcast Educational Programs * EDNET – Educational network to reach and coach Remote Centers & the Co-Centers.

DIGITAL BOOK LIBRARY:

The aim of DBLIB is to reach out and catalyze the education for the print-disabled persons (visually impaired, slow-learners and dyslexic children) the program aims to build required competency and enable them to lead a confident and independent life.

The idea is to provide entire set of CDs to the students as per their academic requirements. Samarthanam is the active member of DFI (Daisy Forum India). Being the state coordinator of DAISY production it is actively involved in the production and promotion of DAISY in the region.

As the prime focus is on school and college students, making the course materials available for study is always a priority. Apart from this, the library also aims to stock academic books, competitive exam books, and books related to personality development, current affairs, along with various genres of fiction and non-fiction

Sports

GK Mahantesh apart from being the keen academic is also a great sports buff. In the years gone by he was cricketer of national repute, he lead the Karnataka state blind cricket team during his college days. Like any normal Indian he is no different as far as this ‘demi’ religion of India is concerned, none of the disabled young people is any different. After his playing days he took over the mantle of the office bearer of the national blind cricket body actively promoting cricket in the south zone. Sport is promoted among the disabled to instill, awareness and importance of physical fitness, confidence, team spirit and opening a window for the disabled, both visually and physically to travel across the country and world to gain better understanding of the world and ‘variothem’ hues of its people, culture, languages etc Practicing a sport offers an avenue to any person to be mentally and physically fit , which in turn boosts self esteem and confidence that are essential for them to face challenges the society in general throws at them.

ART AND CULTURE: "As the soil, however rich it may be cannot be productive without cultivation, so the Mind without culture can never produce good fruit Seneca, Roman Philosopher." Samarthanam Sunadha is the cultural group which was established to encourage the talent among the disabled and disadvantaged youth to nurture their skills and passion to perform on the stage. Talent is spotted in art, traditional and folk dance, vocal and instrumental music and provided training to fine tune the skills and provided opportunities to perform in front of appreciative audience not only in the city but across the state and the country. The cultural troops have performed to a wide range of audience in the USA & UK. The march past troop regularly takes part in the city Independence Day and Republic Day March past programs and had won the prizes in the disabled category. All this was possible with the participation of the staff, volunteers and patrons. The ultimate aim is to establish a National cultural academy as place of excellence to provide opportunities to talented disabled from across the country to come and fine tune their skills and exhibit their hidden potential on a national canvas.

PROJECT SCHEDULE OF GROUP MEMBERS
For Deepti: DAY DATE SESSION DURATION
Wednesday 01/12/2010 1 Public Awareness & distributing pamphlets

ACTIVITIES

Thursday Friday Saturday Saturday Sunday Saturday Saturday Sunday Saturday Sunday

02/12/2010 03/12/2010 04/12/2010 11/12/2010 12/12/2010 18/12/2010 18/12/2010 19/12/2010 25/12/2010 26/12/2010

1 1 5 1 4 3 1 2 3 4

Public Awareness Public Awareness Walk-a-thon Orientation Computer-related work Outdoor Activity Teaching the children Playing and teaching the girls Elementary English Interaction with the kids and improving soft skills

For Yogesh: DAY DATE SESSION DURATION ACTIVITIES

Wednesday

01/12/2010

1

Public Awareness & distributing pamphlets

Thursday Friday Saturday Saturday Sunday Saturday Saturday Sunday Saturday Sunday

02/12/2010 03/12/2010 04/12/2010 11/12/2010 12/12/2010 18/12/2010 18/12/2010 19/12/2010 25/12/2010 26/12/2010

1 1 5 1 4 3 1 2 3 4

Public Awareness Public Awareness Walk-a-thon Orientation Computer-related work Outdoor Activity Teaching the children Teaching basic yoga Elementary English Interaction with the kids and improving soft skills

For Rajat: DAY DATE SESSION DURATION
Wednesday 01/12/2010 1 Public Awareness & distributing pamphlets

ACTIVITIES

Thursday Friday

02/12/2010 03/12/2010

1 1

Public Awareness Public Awareness

Saturday Saturday Sunday Saturday Saturday Sunday Saturday Sunday

04/12/2010 11/12/2010 12/12/2010 18/12/2010 18/12/2010 19/12/2010 25/12/2010 26/12/2010

5 1 4 3 1 2 3 4

Walk-a-thon Orientation Computer-related work Outdoor Activity Teaching the children Teaching basic yoga Elementary English Interaction with the kids and improving soft skills

Learning Outcome and Personal Experience

Yogesh:
At the beginning of this SOCIAL REPONSIBILITY PROJECT we were very excited that we will help for a social cause and SAMARTHANAM gave us that opportunity for which we are really thankful to them The project assigned to us required us to work with an NGO for 25 hours in groups of three. It was at J.P. Nagar 9th block and we all went there to check out what kind of tasks we were into. The Madam in charge was Mrs. Lalita and we introduced our project and its details to her. She was very happy to receive voluntary service at her doorstep. We were lucky to know

that samarthanam was conducting a WALK-A-THON for raising funds for a new building for the children and also to create awareness among the people. We come forward for the task and assisted in creating awareness. We also collected donation for the people and requested them to join us for this noble march. On the day of the event i.e. 4th December we reach 1 hour before the march would start to help the people over there. We took part in it very enthusiastically along with other volunteers and lots of friends who joined us for the WALKA-THON. Along the march we helped the disabled children to walk through the road. Slowly they became friendly with us and we got know about their lives a little more. We took some time to decide our schedule. Mrs. Lalita gave us details about all the branches of SAMARTHANAM, and one of the branches was at HSR layout. We had begun our work as soon as we had entered the NGO. Our groups went and checked in at the office and we enquired about the ware bout the people at the office were all so happy and welcomed us with a warm heart. We all felt touched by their sympathy and we introduced ourselves and our purpose of coming to their Ngo Our main operations were to teach children in different school managed by SAMARTHANAM and the support staff in their daily activities. We went recording different books for the blind children in the NGO. Apart from that we played along with the children at the school and tried to bring some joy in their lives. Whenever we got a chance, we used to call one of the kids and asked them about the NGO and how the teachers and everyone treat them. Their response was very positive and they were all happy for what they are naturally. At the end of the day, some of the children asked me my phone to contact their parents and their relatives, which of course we did. The best thing I felt about the entire project was that we helped the kids to learn English and develop soft skill. We had a tough time in teaching them English. None of them were ready to listen to us and our teaching and it was hectic to

control all of them. But the fun involved in it was ultimate. We enjoyed teaching them some elementary English. We taught them the basics as to how to greet each other and alphabets and numbers and other things and gave them home works also. I really thank the college for giving such a beautiful chance to mix with society at the ground level itself… actually making it mandatory gave us all the more reason for us to take it serious. To talk from the bottom of my heart, we just would like to say that- we learnt how life is for each and everyone. I analyzed my friends and the lives of the people around me.

During my 25 hours of working with samarthanam has brought a lot of changes in me. PATIENCE is one of the most important things I have learnt while working with this NGO. Sometimes the children didn’t listen to me or some of them didn’t cooperate with me. That time I took my patience to the maximum limit and make them understand the work and cooperate with me. One thing I realized from this was that teacher’s job is not at all easy. To handle a bunch of students, keeping them quiet and above all teach them needs a good amount of energy. Going through this at least helped me understand the importance of my teachers and their value in my life. The children at samarthanam are originated from various places with different backgrounds. Some of them are very poor, some are orphans and some are physically challenged, but one thing that gets them all together is unity. Watching them play together, laugh along with us brought back some of my memories of childhood. Their innocence, mischief was no different from the normal children from us. They helped me understand that the real joy of life is togetherness and small things which remain in our heart and soul forever.

DISCIPLINE is something I lack in my personal life. That was something I really learnt from my experience in the NGO. The kids there were so disciplined I sometimes felt ashamed of my life style. Thought we have a general idea that children lack in discipline I would say it’s wrong at samarthanam. They respect everyone no matter if they are workers or someone who has come there for donation. They eat at the right time and do not waste their food. In fact they also make sure that even their friends get food. Since they use their rooms as classrooms in the morning and bedrooms at night they always make sure that the room is cleaned and arranged well. Thought the rules are strict they children actually follow it and never break the rules at any time. I was shocked to see this because even I had the general opinion that children don’t follow rules. While working in the NGO I used to wonder “what makes them so especial?” The answer I got was LOVE. Love is an only binding force which keeps them together. It made my 25hours so special and unique. Everyone at samarthanam has love and affection for each other. I was quiet nervous during my first visit, but those little children there made me feel very comfortable. They showed us their rooms, books and other personal belongings which meant a lot to them. The 25 hrs that I have spent at samarthanam I realized that love and affection is an important element of life. these children have started calling me” ANNA” which means brother in Kannada. Time has passed by so fast before I could even realize. But one thing I am happy about is that I have spent 25hrs of my life doing something which is important and meaning full in life. I will surely make a proper schedule and visit samarthanam again when I’m free. By the end of this 25hrs we have come together as a part of a huge family and I truly miss each and every moment I spend at samarthanam. Till then I would like to wish everybody good luck and may they have a bright future. “GOD Bless Samarthanam!”

Rajat:
On the very first day of our collage we were made aware by our vice chancellor about Social responsibility project, at that time I was not able to link why BBM student had to do this project and also unaware of what this project was all about. One of main motives of Christ University is serving people and we being a part of it had to indulge ourselves in such a social- responsibility project. The main aim of this project is to impose a sense of social responsibility upon us. We, being the future of India, should have a sense of responsibility for our society. Our project required us to work with an NGO for 25 hours in a group of three members. My group was Yogesh, Deepti and me. We were asked to search for an NGO by ourselves and had to do social work for 25 hours. We went around searching for an NGO; came across SAMARTHANAM, an organization working for the welfare of the disabled in Bangalore. It was very gracious of Mrs. Lalita, who was the in charge at Samarthanam, to give us an opportunity to have an experience in working at an NGO. She was indeed very

empathetic to allot our work timings to our convenience by which we could manage to do our work after college. Every member of the group was involved in one activity or the other helping us spend our time very interactively. On the first day, Mrs. Lalita gave us the details about the branches of their organization, Samarthanam, and the way they conducted and managed things. I consider myself very lucky to have taken part in the walk-a-thon organized by Samarthanam in order to create awareness among people about such disabled people and to raise funds for the construction of new buildings for the disabled people. One of the branches of Samarthanam is in H.S.R Layout, where we had to spend most of our time working with the NGO. People of all ages all worked in harmony there and made a great scene of co-operation. The person in charge there was blind he, but the level of selfesteem and personality he possessed made up for what he didn’t have. As we entered the NGO, we started off with our work where we helped people in the office in storing the list of persons who had contributed anything at all to the organization. They keep a complete record of such people. As I had mentioned earlier the in charge was a blind man, I was very curious to know how he managed to do his work. After interacting with him, we learned about this software, specially programmed for blind people. Using this software, one could make out which letter one typed as the computer repeated the typed letter. This was how he managed his work. It was amazing. Other blind people were provided with audio books and CDs which covered their syllabus and this is how they learnt things. All blind people retain in their minds what they hear better than people with eyesight as their ears are the only sense organ this connects them with the outside world. To interact with the disabled people, we even had an outdoor activity where we played cricket with them. It’s quite hard to imagine a blind person playing cricket or any sport for that matter. I am proud to say that I have seen blind play cricket and also that I was the one to play it with them. Many answerless questions floated into my mind at that

moment, out there at the field, and my heart was flooded with feelings where at times I felt like crying at the sight of their pitiful condition and at the same time I was smiling looking at the joy in the faces. Despite their imperfections, they had great enthusiasm to play. These people taught me how never to lose hope even when all hope is gone. We also got an opportunity to teach them English and help them develop soft skills. I also taught them a bit of basic yoga out of my little knowledge about yoga. During this teaching session, the children were totally not ready to sit still and listen to us, so the teachers were trying their best to make them listen. Talking about the teachers, they really had a great deal of love and patience for the kids which helped in keeping them under control. In these 25 hours, I really got attached to many kids after hearing the stories behind how they ended up here from the teachers. Most of the children’s parents didn’t have enough money to raise them up so they left them under the care of Samarthanam. After the completion of these 25 hours, I realized the core intention of this project and I am extremely grateful to Christ University for giving me such a lifetime opportunity. The kind of love that I have felt at the NGO was unconditional. When our work was yet to start it was a kind of a burden for me and thought it was nothing except a waste of time, but as I began working with it my thoughts completely changed and I was able to understand the core motive of this project and was also able to link this motive with my life In this world we can learn something or the other from anyone no matter he is a millionaire or a disabled person. This 25 hours of my life has given me a chance to learn a lot about moral values and has help me bring about a change in myself and also helped me in shaping my personality in better manner. It made aware of my society that consists of some unfortunate people who have lost everything in their life but are still leaving.

Time spend with those kids taught me how never to loss hope when no help is left and to love and respect yourself. Though their blind and disabled they still hope for bright and happy future. The in charge of one of the branch in which we were working was blind, now I take him as my role model as he showed me how nothing is impossible. His positive attitude towards life really inspired me a lot and I am sure it will help me a lot to go ahead in this competitive world. Everybody who is a part of Samarthanam loves each other and is united without any disparities among each other and this is one of the things that a normal people like as should understand if we want peace and harmony in this world. Being a teacher for three to four hour was an ultimate experience in itself, at that time I would think of my teacher in Christ how much difficulty they face to handle one class. I still remember the blind man whom I held during the WALK-A-THON organized by samarthanam. I was drowning with feelings of a good deed done and satisfaction, I really felt good from inside. Never ever in my dream I have a thought I would be doing such a deed These 25 hours of work has given me self satisfaction of the fact that even I have spent time doing good for the society. Christ University gave opportunity to come across such people and to know them and their point of view. I am really very grateful and glad for it.

Deepti:
When I first heard about this project, I was wondering how to go about this project, and how I would find a group. Looking for an NGO was also another issue, as I knew that they would be hard and far-fetched, expecting a lot out of ‘interns’, or in our case, students. But I was also excited at the prospect of helping the underprivileged and letting a chance come my way wouldn’t be missed. It was a great opportunity. Fortunately, the members of my team approached me as they needed a 3rd person to complete the group. At first I was skeptical, but then I realized that this was a great way to know my classmates in the process. So I agreed, and we eventually found ourselves at the doorstep of SAMARTHANAM- Trust for the disabled. And the woman in-charge there was Mrs. Lalita. She was quite pleased with our appearance and made use of us as soon as possible. On the first day we worked, we distributed pamphlets and had our ‘public awareness’ program, where we learnt that the disabled were not as privileged as us- people who were ‘normal’. It took me some time to realize that they weren’t normal- to me they were perfectly fine except with a few difficulties in their senses. The walk-a-thon was an exhilarating experience

We were sent to the HSR Layout branch, where SAMARTHANAM had a school for the poor and underprovided. The children there weren’t any different form us, except for money and some senses. The person who was in-charge there was also a blind person and it was fascinating to see how he moved around his office and the school without much guidance. He seemed happy and confident, and upon interacting with him for some time I learned that he’d been with Samarthanam for 7 years, and counting. He’d also been fortunate to learn English and visit England with a group of blind cricketers, but had finally found his place in Samarthanam. He loved the children and so did the other teachers. It was obvious that there

was a mother figure and a grandmother figure amongst the adults, and the male teachers acted as mentors to the children. The children seemed happy and carefree. They were well-fed, had lots of exercise by playing in the grounds and were getting educated. The school had up to 8th grade. They were happy, and seemed like a family. And like any normal family they had their banters and teased each other.

I asked the person in-charge how they funded for everything to run the school, and he’d replied that they survived through donations. The donations could be in the form of money, food, clothing, books, papers; anything that anybody could spare. They even needed donations for the school’s renovations.

Teaching the children seemed to be fun, and it taught me to revise whatever I’d learnt. It was easy to read, and the only thing I could teach the children was English, as it was a Kannadamedium school. But it was fun to see the students pull out their notebooks and textbooks on a Sunday evening and do their homework without any complaints, cheerfully talking away. The children enjoyed playing outside when they could. And despite their difficulties, and their inabilities they were happy to come along and play. It was fun to join them in skipping activities or throw ball activities whilst the boys enjoyed a good game of cricket.

On the whole, the upsetting thing was to see was that the children struggled while moving around. There was a young boy who had only one leg, and pushed himself wherever he went. What saddened me was that everyone who can afford the higher things in life can’t even look ‘down’ or take a moment to see the other side of the world and help them. It could be as simple as spending some time with them, just talking and giving them attention for which they crave, or something as high as seeing if an operation can be done to help prevent the

disability from spreading. It saddened me that I couldn’t help them further, but was happy at the prospect of giving them the attention they could use from me.

After finishing 25 hours, I felt surer of myself and I felt self-satisfied. It made me feel like I’d done something better with my schedule rather than waste my time on things I took for granted.

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