Four major empowerment projects of SVH are i. Education Empowerment Project for the Blind (EEP), ii. Digital Talking Book Project for the Blind (DTBP), Computerized Braille Book Production Project for the Blind (CBBPP) & Life-skill training through Adventure Sports. Over the last 34 years many persons with loss of vision, from birth to advanced age, have approached us for enabling support to mainstream with dignity and self-reliance. Some of them have left a deep impression in our heart for their grit and struggle to meet the challenge of poverty, illiteracy, low self-esteem to shape up as a productive citizen of the country. A few are presented here.
Following information will show you the specific educational aids and appliances that Blind & Vision Impaired beneficiaries will need for their education, mobility & mainstreaming empowerment
Here we present Sayera Khatun. Sayera, a Urdu speaking Muslim, lost her vision since childhood. She comes from an extremely poor minority community of Kolkata. Her father worked as a watch mechanic but due to failing vision he had to stop the only occupation. In 2005 Sayera passed from Calcutta Blind School, Behala, the third oldest Blind School in India. She has one elder brother who postgraduated in Urdu but was not able to find an employment. At the moment he delivers daily newspapers to homes in the morning. Her younger brother is preparing for competitive examinations but could not yet qualify for any recruitment. Sayera would always come escorted by her mother Taheda Banu, both of whom looked extremely pale and undernourished. When Sayera was continuing her Higher Secondary studies she would give some private tuition to Blind children here and there drawing a paltry sum. In 2009-10 Sayera reported to us seeking educational support for her undergraduate studies in Calcutta Girls' College with Bengali Hons. Along with resource support in terms of recorded audio books, tape recorders we could arrange for her a scholarship support sponsored by the Bhoruka Charitable Trust, Jaipur. This scholarship support continued till Sayera completed her postgraduate in Bengali from the Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She then enrolled herself for her MPhil Course in Bengali from the Jadavpur University and continued to appear for various competitive examinations including the School Service Examination conducted by the Government of West Bengal. As there were intervals in her studies we decided to shift her with Adhoc scholarship support. One of SVH's volunteers, Miss Nita Dey, who teaches in Calcutta Blind School, volunteered to dedicate her Saturdays and Sundays to help Sayera cope up with her increasing load of studies. Just two months back she was declared qualified for a teacher's post in a secondary school in Nodakhali, South 24 Parganas with a good salary and security of a Govt job. Sayera is very keen to complete her MPhil degree as she feels, once she becomes a teacher, her scope of taking up a research project will get restricted. With the support of the Hans Foundation, introduction of digital mode of recording of Talking Books and nano audio equipment making recorded material compact in one memory card, our volunteer recordists, took up a marathon recording to see she never has to wait for her study material. Her appointment letter will be reaching soon and we at SVH along with our Donors pray may Sayera lead a life of self-reliance and deliver knowledge to sighted students in her school! .
Rashmi reported to us with her mother Annapurna soon after her cornea transplant has failed as a four year old kid, cheerful, chirpy, no shyness in a new situation, in our Society's Kolkata Book Fair stall at the maidan. Immediately the faculty at SVH (all volunteers) began planning and mobilizing its resources to make sure she got her education from a general school for the sighted. Annapurna, a computer professional, left her job to devote adequate time for Rashmi's upbringing as well as for her elder daughter Divya. She learnt Braille with us to transfer this most vital skill to Rashmi during her foundation period. Around 2000 we had a visitor from UK, Mrs Sue Rogers, a highly skilled Special Educator employed with the British Government, who guided us in various ways about the possible areas where we should build our skill and back home sent us a number of toys, teaching aids, self-learning manuals to equip us with updates. Mrs Gopa Ghosh, Principal, RIDDHI Special School, came forward to admit Rashmi in the preparatory level to familiarize her with school-habits. SVH Faculty volunteers were quite busy then training Braille to sighted volunteers to pool a resource for hand-transcription of Braille books which were in short supply. In one such training class teachers of the Patha Bhavan School, Kolkata expressed their eagerness to learn Braille and this gradually facilitated admission of Rashmi in this well-reputed school of Calcutta. Over the following years Rashmi courageously battled the sweet and bitter experiences of a co-education school, problem of scribe, lack of awareness persisting at every level about the abilities of a person with vision impairment, which only helped her move forward and win laurels! SVH volunteers, be it for counseling & guidance or exploring mainstream opportunities, have always been by her side, Mrs Ruma Chatterjee & Mrs Rekha Godbole, supplying her with reading material in Braille. In three other pioneering life-skill projects through adventure sports of SVH where Rashmi participated i.e. Kayaking at Rishikesh in Uttarakhand, mountaineering training at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI), Darjeeling WB, and Nature Study Camp at Lataguri, north Bengal, have gone a long way in developing her mobility and mapping skills. In 2018 Rashmi has completed her HS education and joined her law school in Hyderabad by qualifying through competitive exams and we wish her all the best in all her endeavors!