Monday, October 15, 2007

Visiting Devnar Foundation

Last Saturday, October 13th, myself and Sudhakar visited the school being run by Devnar foundation. It was amazing to know the kind of things that the students have achieved even when they have one of their critical sense organ not functioning properly. Not to mention other limitations such as scarcity of resources and non-acceptance from the mainstream society.

Most of the students are on vacation but still we got a chance to meet two of them – “Rajshekhar” and “Deekshit”. Rajshekhar is doing Chartered Accountancy. He is the first blind person to have cleared the entrance exam and now he is preparing for the mains. Deekshit has just cleared his 10th and is not studying in a reputed college. He is studying science and aspires to be an engineer. The principal of the school later told me that many of the students are preparing for IITs. Some of them have got admission in prestigious engineering colleges across the state and most of them are securing first ranks in their respective colleges.

Rajshekhar and Deekshit took us around to show their school. When we entered the laboratory, I was amazed to see several scientific models made up of clay, wires and other day-to-day household items. Rajshekhar told us that their Egbert sir had made all those models for them to touch and understand (Egbert sir is a 76 year old man committed to the cause). Rajshekhar also explained to us one of the clay models depicting the flow of blood (and the purification system in the heart). And he was just fabulous. Later he proudly told us that he got appreciations from the Govt. of Andhra Pradesh when he had explained the same model to him during a science exhibition. Next up was the printing press. They showed us the Braille printers that could automatically translate English characters to Braille and then print them. They also told us that the foundation prints Braille books and provides them for free to all the schools in the state. Next thing that we saw was the computer room. The school teaches computers to the students after 5th class onwards. The students use some special software that converts text into speech and they can listen to the messages, text etc. They use the same kind of keyboard that we use (They don’t have special Braille keyboards).

I am in discussion with the school and some of my friends from Microsoft here in Hyderabad and we are trying to find out ways to get engaged with the foundation and help them. Meanwhile, for those who are unable to contribute directly by being present, here are a few things that you could do.

Sponsorships

  • Meals - one time:
    • Vegetarian: Rs. 3000/-
    • Non-Vegetarian: Rs. 4000/-
  • Breakfast: Rs. 1800/-
  • A sum of Rs. 50,000/- can be deposited as FD. The interest accrued will be utilized for meals on any day of your choice during the academic year
  • Snacks: Rs. 1800/-
  • Sponsor a child's education - Rs. 6000/- per annum
  • A sum of Rs. 1,00,000/- can be deposited as FD. the interest accrued will be utilized on permanent basis
  • Sponsor a teacher's salary - approx Rs. 4000/- per month
  • Sponsor a student's uniform (two pairs of dress, shoes, socks, tie and belt) - Rs. 1500/-
  • Provisions (monthly requirement of the school) - These can be donated in full or part
    • Rice -1500 Kgs
    • Dal - 150 Kgs
    • Oil - 45 ltrs
    • Sugar - 45 Kgs
    • Wheat Rawa - 100 Kgs
    • Idly Rawa - 100 Kgs
    • Urad Dal - 50 Kgs

Other ways

  • Work as a volunteer teacher to teach the students
  • Arrange for computers for the students
  • Arrange for Talking dictionaries (these softwares are costly and not easily available in India)
  • Arrange for voice enabled scientific calculators (the school has a few... but they need more of these)
  • Voice recorders with large memory - the students who go to higher classes need to record their lectures so that they can revise things later.
  • Scanners and OCR software with higher accuracy

And most of all, they need our moral support.

NOTE: All donations to Devnar foundation are exempted from Income Tax (in India). Contributions should be made in favor of "DEVNAR FOUNDATION FOR THE BLIND"