Gifting Empowerment On Diwali For Last 75 Yrs: This Organisation Trains Visually-Impaired On Multiple Skills

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The problems faced by visually-impaired individuals are multifold. Ranging from lack of accessible facilities to getting an opportunity to upskill themselves, they require an inclusive environment to be fostered in order to become more self-reliant. With the same vision in mind, The Blind Relief Association situated in New Delhi has been helping such individuals lead their lives with confidence and dignity for the past 75 years.

With the festive season around the corner, the association has organised a ‘Blind School Diwali Mela’. Started in 1980, the Diwali Mela is held annually at the sprawling grounds near Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg in the premises of the association. The trainees and the staff members could be spotted working swiftly through various stalls where products made by the trainees are showcased. The earnings from this event are directed towards financing the association, which provides free training to the visually-impaired individuals.

“At the association, we aim to boost the confidence of the trainees by giving them training in various areas such as personality development, and spoken English. We also provide vocational courses such as computer training. Apart from training them, we attempt to provide them with resources such as reading the material in Braille and audiobooks on various topics. I feel that they can work as confidently as any other individual when given appropriate training, and it could be a life-changing session for them.” said Swapna Merlin, communication head.

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Apart from the Diwali Mela, the association runs a year-long programme for the visually-impaired who have not got any chance to receive a formal education. The association also attempts to provide them with placements and has a list of trainees who are able to transform their personal lives post attending the training sessions. The computer training has assisted many individuals in achieving their career goals.

Mohammed Shakib Khan, one of the trainees hailing from Ghaziabad, shared his story of from being shy to be being able to hold a mic and speak confidently. “I was very hesitant in public speaking before coming here. I never had the confidence to speak on mic publicly and never thought that I would be doing story-telling sessions. But post coming here, I have received spoken classes, and it helped me a lot. I have also learnt book-binding and stitching here. It makes me happy to learn new skills, and there’s still so much to learn,” he said.

 

Another trainee named Jyoti Prajapati said she regained her confidence after coming to the association. “After losing my eyesight, I never thought that I would be able to experience things as before. I was dependent on others, and I felt that I would never be completely on my own. But after coming here, I have gained back my lost confidence, and I don’t regret what happened in the past. The skills which I’ve gained here help me each day- be it commuting, expressing myself or reading new things. I have found good friends over here, and we stay together like a big family,” she said.

Under the aegis of the association, a senior secondary school is also run. The school is recognised by the Directorate of Education, NCT Delhi and CBSE. It provides free education, boarding, lodging, books and other services to boys from nursery till class 12th. At the same time, it encourages them to take part in diverse extracurricular activities. Their main objective is to impart essential skills to the students so that they could become a part of the mainstream. Also, their six-month relaxation-massage training, call-centre programme, and candle-making programme has helped many of them find employment and lead their lives independently.

The life-transforming stories of the visually-impaired individuals appeal to our mind and put in question the present-day state of accessibility for the blind population in our country.

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‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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It's not how much we give
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