Get a call on Thursday night at 9, from my super enthu Kiran saying “Aare urgent requirement hain, mail bheja hai, event hai with VI candidates and we need 10-15 volunteers and we will help them know about post office and how to post letters” Letters… Writing letters has always been close to my heart from my 1st standard where I started writing to my Grandpa, My Aba, until 6 years back when I lost him…:( To my cousins, my friends, infact few days back I found a bag full of old letters from aba, cousins, family and friends…
I read Kiran’s email got super excited, sent email to groups, bbcd few super active bunch of volunteers;) and before even any volunteers confirming, mailed Kiran saying “I am In”J There were 4 events running parallelly in Bangalore and I chose this… After a long time was part of event with Visually Challenged, Low Vision and Blind… We reached the Centre and saw that all Candidates were already all set and ready for this unique experience… Trainer Varsha who was leading the show, explained us all about the event, told candidates they need to write a letter about their training and post it and left it to us “THE VOLUNTEERS (a mix of new ones and experienced ones” on how we manage it… As always how could I miss the energisersJ But here the challenge was which is the energiser we could do with a mix crowd of sighted, low vision and no vision… But we successfully managed to do 8421 and all were happily and loudly doing the energiserJ With 9 Volunteers assisting 12 candidates, we all left for post office with no plan in mind but with a hope to teach on how letters are posted and how post office works and ya with a end result of we learning many things 1. as simple as a Low vision candidate telling us what is full form of PIN Code… Ya right we write that without fail at times without even knowing it’s full formJ Postal Index No.:) 2. So many savings schemes are available, so many schemes available are no longer existing etc etc
We all walked for around a km and distance seemed so short enjoying each other company… After reaching there with this build up habit of commanding from volunteers for past 7 years, gave a task to all;) Visit each counter (4) and explain to their candidates about functions taken place at each counter and come near 5th counter where we had to buy stamps. Meanwhile I bought a post card, an Inland Letter, a 5 rupee stamp and a post cover with stamp on itJ Once the candidates and volunteers were back we made each candidate feel all these 4 and explained how much can be written on each of these and how much it costed… Now it was up to them to chose which one they wanted to buy and use to write letter:) They stood in line assisted by volunteers and bought card or inland letter or cover whatever they wished..
2 low vision candidates wrote their letters themselves, others took volunteers help… We needed 2-3 volunteers to write letters in Kannada, coincidentally my sister who visited post office for buying post covers ended up being one of volunteers to write Kannada. We both were writing something in Kannada after many years, atleast I had written 1 a while agoJ Di received candidate who spoke very pure Kannada, proud that she managed to write itJ Candidates dictated letters and we wrote. We got to hear some pure Kannada and Hindi tooJ Just amazing!!!!
I loved when my candidate Janaki who was writing letter to her Mum told me start letter with “Mathrushree” in the topJ and to write about her class that she has now learnt computers and is now also able to speak in English… Once done here started another unique experience of making her feel how a post box looked like. Her questions as to whether they keep it in while closing the post office or whether letters get wet when it rains made me make her feel the post box full on how it is covered and fixed with timings on it and a lock… Finally she posted the letter and was so happy about it that I for sure can’t express through words… She chatted with me told me she loved my name and ya also there is a school by name Prarthana School started by Mr. BelagereJ WowJ
All candidates were made to feel the post box and posted their own letters, in fact one candidate also took photocopy of it as a memory:)
We all came back to Enable India heard every candidates experience, started sharing our experiences and realised this was a event not just for to help them and make them dependent but it was an event of Inclusiveness, an event where we got hell lot of information, an event where we added so many new friends and like minded people, an event where we understood challenges faced by candidates and an event that gave me courage to start my new initiative “GiftAbled, an inclusive Gift store” ASAPJ Yes at the end we did survey that we had created for GiftAbled and got views of Candidates and volunteers on Ideal and Inclusive Gift store and I was so motivated when 2 candidates came to me and said , Maam is this started, I been waiting to see such a store since so long, I hardly get to buy gifts or options of gifts when I visit big big shops or any shops… Yes this has motivated me a lot, and have changed b negative thought of whether this unique initiative will work or not to yes “it’s worth a try”JJ
Thanks so so much to Enable India for doing excellent work in Disability Sector and for giving us this super unique and inclusive opportunityJ
GiftAbled Blog: http://giftabledadreamfor2013.blogspot.in/
Survey Link for Sighted: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QWYDBKH
Survey Link for Visually Challenged Candidates: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CNCY5BN