krish – 起死回生 [Wake up from death & return to life.]

October 24, 2011

The blind yet bold

Marriages are made in heaven, they say!
Not sure of how true that statement is, but around me (in India) I see two broad specifications of marriages:

Arranged: Guy/Girl goes to “see” their partner along with parents, they weigh pros and cons of the to-be relation. In many cases weigh the gold, count the cash, check the earn-ability, looks, skin complexion, scale education qualification, and count the number of times you’ve returned from United States of America.

Love?: Guy “sees” Girl, falls for her or vice-versa; like-ability factors. Sparks fly? Issues happen.

    And there are cases which are mixed too.

What if someone had blindfolded your eyes through these above mentioned process?
Which marriage process would you agree to? Would you get married?
You’d just remove your blindfold; Yes pretty simple isn’t it?

Unfortunately nature hasn’t left a such choice to everyone.
Some people do not get to just remove their blindfold. Because it is permanent. They are blind, for real.
And they are less-fortunate financially too; so there is no ‘just buy a pair of eyes’ here.

The visually-impaired

They cannot experience to “see” the other person, forget checking the looks and flying sparks.

So, do they experience ‘marriage’ or ‘love’? Love may-be; but marriage?
How?
When the whole so-called better equipped human race is running their own race to “see” their bright future, Who would hold two blind hands and join them in marriage?
This I wondered as I sat pillion on a fellow ‘Saayam Cheddam Foundation‘ member’s bike approaching a place where it happens!

Vikalangula Kalyana Vedika

Pushing the gates of a walled structure I saw a man sitting there facing a direction different from the person he was talking to. Yes, it was him.
It was this man who takes time, effort and has the heart to get blind people married.

The man who runs vkvedika.org

Year 2000, marks the beginning of a good cause when he started helping the visually-impared and total-blind people come together.
As he made his way through this process, he realised that even before marriage there are many basics that are needed to be addressed, that other people run from, that is void in the life of blind people.
Which is?

Many blind people are treated as a dead-weight. Family members do not care for them.
Outside, they face reactions from people which are similar to as if people were up-close to a crawly slimy insect. A repelling, downgrading attitude.

This breaks the confidence and self-respect of blind people. Not many people realise this; or wait they do? But they couldn’t care less.

It takes real empathy to understand this and he did.

He pushed his living to accomodate a group of 5 blind girls where he would put his efforts to uplift their confidence, their lost self-respect, which is the most toughest task. Sensing improvement in them, he would take it further by providing education, skill to work – making paper plates, agarbatiis(Joss sticks), key chains, perfumes, paper carry bags and also perform at stage functions to help them self-sustain.
This is in a way making sure that they uphold their self-respect – very useful because not everyone he is helping get educated may find a job, not everyone wants to study.

Yes guys, they are not taught to beg. They are not taught to expect sympathy because they are blind.

Joss sticks, perfumes, keychains made by the blind.

Paper plates made by the blind.

Over the years, he formed a home for the blind – Vikalangula Kalyana Vedika (vkvedika.org) and 18 people are now making their living working in Government jobs. 26 people have been married.

Year 2010, he opened a hostel for blind boys and today he serves close to 60 people (girls and boys).

The girl who was recently abandoned by her parents.

Our hearts were already sinking when we noticed a girl who would grab any hand close to her. She would grab it firmly and say ‘please don’t leave’.

She just wouldn’t know whose hand it is.
Because she is blind.
And was abandoned.
By her parents.
Recently.
At a very human crowded place.
A Junction.
Where we people with eyes would get scared.
Because of the flow of people.
Because of the kind of people.
Because of huge vehicles that zoom past you or on you.
A small blind girl who wouldn’t know if she is walking towards a speeding bus.
Or towards a high voltage electric fence.
She was left alone there. To live or Die?
Why?
Because she was blind.
And she was a girl.

I gasped as my heart sank to the bottom of the oceanic trench, and my throat was out of moisture as my brain felt numb.
We looked at her but had no words to say. She was holding the hands of one of the member as he tried to make her feel wanted by this world.

It is true that visually-impaired people lack one of the most important sense to survive this harsh world, but unlike us, they are not lazy, they are not deprived of talent. And we saw this in action:

1. One of the blind girls sang slokas for us. And she knows all 108 shlokas.  [audio http://toonheart.com/humanity/shloka.mp3]
2. Another blind girl performed an act, a stage drama depicting a strong, independent, leading woman. [audio http://toonheart.com/humanity/dalhousie.mp3] <– check from 00:40
.
3. We noticed a girl reading her books using ‘braille‘ method and she suddenly got up, walked towards the tap, which was left leaking, and turned it off!
The maid that comes to this home, who has perfect eyesight had left the tap open.
The tap was atleast 25 feet away from the blind girl and the air was filled with other junk noises.
We didn’t notice the tap, neither could hear it. She heard it!

A blind girl reciting slokas.

Another blind girl performing an act

A blind girl doing Braille who later closed a leaking tap.

Sadly, not everything is Okay in this home for blind. It needs quite some money to run this.
And they don’t ask. They try to work it out by their self-sustaining methods.

One such immediate problem they were facing is finding a place to live.
The current landlord was troubling them. Sometimes he says he wants to re-build the house and live in there and so they need to vacate. And other times he would say, ‘Buy this land from me’ – to which he quotes 3 times the prevailing rate AND he wants his name to be engraved on the gate wall – as if he had donated the place.

With much difficultly and strength, the man who runs this home put all his savings, pulled loan on few assests that he had, took credits from lenders and is still trying to manage to purchase a small plot where the blind can live in peace. Where someone wouldn’t come and throw them out after he is gone.

We SCF members decided to make a contribution which was urgent, which would help them reach the big amount they needed to pay for pre-land title notary today. Hoping and praying everything goes smooth in their quest to secure a place to stay.

SCF helps funding a part of amount needed for vkvedika.org's new home.

AND we also decided to buy our monthly Joss stick (agarbatti) needs from them, which in a way should help. So if you’re staying in Hyderabad and use Joss sticks at home/temples you could try contacting Mr. Subhas at 984-96 9-3954

Btw, did I mention that the man behind this amazing feat (Mr. D.Subhash Gupta) is himself blind?

Mr. Subhash Gupta, a blind employee at a bank helps others like him live dignified life.

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September 6, 2011

Save a Girl Child

Some content on this post are about sensitive issues happening around us. Please do not read further if you are not mature enough to handle it.

1994

Prenatal sex determination was banned in India, under the Pre-conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act.

2011

India’s 2011 census shows a serious decline in the number of girls under the age of seven – activists fear eight million( 80,00,000 ) female fetuses may have been aborted between 2001 and 2011.


The 1994 ban on prenatal sex determination would have forced quite a few people to bring new life on this planet, without the discrimination to gender, but has it really achieved what it was originally meant to do!

2011 census is an eye-opener us all. It shows how efficient people have become in their hideous ways of brutality.

As if that wasn’t enough, two other practices had gained momentum after ban on prenatal sex determination.

  1. Sex selective Infanticide/Neonaticide – killing of a newborn female infant less than 24 hours old.
  2. Femicide – killing of women for various reasons, usually cultural.
  3. And well who can forget the all time famous (notorious?)…

  4. Honor Killings – killing of a family member by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or community. Honor killings are directed mostly against women and girls, but have been extended to men.
You must be wondering why this post talks about this subject out of the blue; here is why:
Tribes surrounding Devarakonda, Andhra Pradesh (Map), have been practicing Neonaticide, Femicide and Honor killings from years now.
One member of SCF (Mahesh), brought up this topic during last weekend visit to Chandur. He had already put some effort into trying to get one of the tribes to sane thinking till about 2 years ago.
We decided to go and check out the situation; hence the visit to Devarakonda – 4 sep 2011.

En-route tribal habitats - Devarakonda

What we found is absolutely shocking and bone chilling.
Word of mouth from few sensible locals of the village, who have been trying to stop this madness (We fortunately came across them) :
  • After the 1994 ban, when the local village hospital stopped access to prenatal sex determination, people had become savages.
  • They started killing ( that’s an understatement, I’d call it murdering ) their own just born girl child. Methods include:
                         – Forcing the infant to consume some kind of a poisonous seed.
                         – Drowning them in container of milk.
                         – Burying them alive.
                         – Smashing them to death with rocks, until the little life stopped twitching.
             The Government tried to bring some order into the situation, trails were run, few people were convicted.
             Few/most people understood that they would land into trouble if they killed infants. So what did they do then?
  • They started throwing the just born infants in the sewage, abandoning them at the bus stops, leaving them on the roads, in the fields, on the rocks that burn hot in the sun or in some cases selling them!
             The Government then extended Sishu Vihar programme (run by ICDS ), where in the local hospital put up an open-cradle for infants to be left there instead of killing or abandoning them wherever they can. The infants would be then moved to a local Sishu Vihar branch, where they are taken care of and given for adoption.

Open-Cradle at Devarakonda Hospital where people abandon their new born girl Child.

Local Sishu Vihar branch

This programme is running from last 5 months here and 82 babies have been dropped at the open-cradle till now; some are directly left at the local sishu vihar branch ( smart tribals? they have learnt where the babies go from the cradle )
             Unfortunately, these so called smart asses aren’t smart enough in their decisions on the life of a girl child.
A girl child is looked upon to be a burden, a liability, a debt, a dishonor, a material, an object and what not!
The desire for male child for these tribals, has them completely blinded, turned them to animals ( No! wait. That would be an insult to animals….. they don’t distinguish between male/female. My apologies to the animal kingdom.).

 

Some of incidents that we came to know about:
    1. There is a couple in one of the tribes who have 13 children now.  First 11 were girls, and their efforts for male child has been answered by God! , the 12 the delivery brought them male twins.  They are now supposedly happy?  I just hope they won’t sell their girl child for trafficking.
    2. In another case, a man argued during his trail in the court that he had sent his wife 10,000 rupees every month during her labor so that she can give birth to a male child. Now that she has wronged him by delivering a girl child, he doesn’t want her or the child!
    3. A third case, where a father had murdered his daughter while returning home from the local hospital ( may be after prenatal sex determination? ).  He had smashed open her head with a boulder and then buried her; went home and had a goodnight’s sleep. Next day when the villagers asked about his daughter, he had to tell them what happened.

What would you expect? Was he taken to local police station? Naah..
The villagers decided that it wouldn’t bring “honor” to the village if a pregnant lady was buried along with a child in her womb. They all went to set things “right”. Dug out the body, used blades to cut out the belly, rip off the womb from the mother and buried both of them seperately.
The so called honor of the village was restored.
The mere narration of this incident had send chills down my spine. I can’t imagine what level of dark heart it takes to do it.

If you ask these tribals on why they do this, they cite financial problems as the reason for it. But, its known that  the male child is taken care of in every possible way they can. Somehow the financial reasons take toll on their mind when its a girl child.

The Government, their welfare bodies, the doctors, have all tried telling them that this is wrong, but I guess it just doesn’t get to their ears.

This is where Saayam Cheddam Foundation plans to do something. We’ve realized that the key to this is education ( these tribals do not even know that producing a girl child isn’t mother’s doing).  And not just plain education, but something in visual, something that they can relate with, something that won’t be given a deaf ear, something that should present case studies in visual format that says “Girls can and already do equal boys in earning livelihood. They are not liability.”

SCF members discussing with sensible local people in the Village.

One of the local persons that we met (mentioned earlier in this post) has already worked out a film on this issue, but has it unfinished due to budget. We thought it could be one good lead to start with.

SCF members looking at the road traveled; the roads that lead to people who kill their girl child.

Let’s see how things go, if we can make even a small difference, help save some innocent girl child lives. Time shall unfold.

More pics of visit –
Picasa – Nikon CoolPix L110
? – Sony Cybershot w570 ( Sorry, we do not have permissions to post these pics yet! )

August 30, 2011

Mission Education Needs – Saayam Cheddam

Filed under: Society — krish @ 1:44 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Fortunate-World :
There is a world where parents dole out big fat notes to get their kids educated.
This is the world where most students spend time in lavish universities, buy all books that they don’t read, drive around crazy on bikes/cars bought out of parent’s money.

Weekend movie, stylish vehicle to travel, pocket money in the range of thousands, latest phones, branded clothes and shoes, friend hangouts, PS3/Xbox, Weekend party, smoke, beer/wine are absolutely a MUST for these awesome students in the city. Not having these becomes a matter of life and death for them.

Students NEED their parent’s to afford all these… this is college life Yo!…
and still they DONOT value their education!

Less-Fortunate World:
What if there is a world where these students have to study in colleges which have broken walls,
if they never have access to a TV,
no power at home and have to study in the night under a lamp because the mornings have to spent working superhard in fields/as laborers to earn for their own and siblings education, for their food & living,
if all the day’s hardwork earns them an average of 60 rupees per day ( Yeah that’s right .. a burger cost’s more than that! )
What if they have to pull these off on strength from two in-sufficient meals a day?

What if they cannot afford to travel to college everyday and study on borrowed notes per week and yet do well in studies……… AND what if these student’s have to one day realize that they will have give up their education, that they value so much ( a contrast from most city students ).

YES, they do give up their education (which they have been managing on their own hard earned money) to support their families. They hate to give up education, it hurts, a lot, but they have to!

SCF funding Books for Engineering Course

Enter Saayam Cheddam Foundation(SCF), a bunch of people, mostly includes youngsters’ who feel the pain of the Less-Fortunate World, and most importantly DO something about it.

I’ve had a chance to visit one such less-fortunate world (Chandur Village and two other villages near Jogipet, Andhra Pradesh) with SCF last weekend.
SCF has been helping these students with guidance, counselling and funding their education.

This visit we’ve met more people, heard them out, understood their needs, documented them and are now looking to extend support; as always.
If you are a helping hand, you could join SCF at Orkut (click here) or Facebook (click here) and voice your intentions.

More pics of visit –
Picasa – Nikon CoolPix L110
Facebook – Sony Cybershot w570

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