Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Monday, 27 November 2006


TO Bihar Blind People’s Care Society, 1 - M.I.G., Kankarbagh Colony, Patna 800020, INDIA
Bank A/C No. 1050674180-4
Bank Name & Address: SWift Code : 3246
State BAnk Of India ,Sector 7 ,Chandigarh 160018,India

Bihar Field Trip;Anchal -July 2006

For the past few days I have been traveling into rural parts of Bihar meeting blind children. I am posting the most remarkable happenings of my field trips.

July 11, 2006

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step...

Yesterday was my first day with the Bihar Blind People’s Care Association. I went with the head of the organization to different parts of rural Bihar on an inspection to check whether the blind children who have been taken under the wings of this organization are being given their dues. Ideally, the government is supposed to provide one teacher among every 8 blind students. This teacher is supposed to go to each child’s home and teach them for two hours, 2 days in a week. Besides this, he is also supposed to visit the children at the local government school twice a week. However, the corrupt bureaucracy has not paid these teachers for the past ten years and the BBPCA has raised funds to pay these teachers.The first village we went to had two blind children. One was totally blind and the other had partial vision. After conducting inquiries, to our utter dismay we found out that that particular child’s teacher visited him only once in a month and had asked him to tell anyone who came for an inspection that he had been coming to his house twice a week. The child seemed determined to do well, but the ignorance of his parents and lax at the part of his teacher wouldn’t get him very far. We talked to the villagers for about half an hour, spreading public awareness about how blind children are to be treated and about their fundamental rights to education.Sadly enough this was not the story only with this child - most of the villages we went to suffered a similar fate.On my way to another village, we crossed a holy shrine which was a very sought after destination. I was in a state of total shock to see a 12 yr old getting married. Amidst the revelry and merry making of the ceremony, no one seemed bothered about this 12 yr old girl’s future. No one even raised a finger! We tried to speak to the people present there, but were advised against it as the area was extremely orthodox and a communally charged up one, therefore trying to talk to anyone present there about the abysmal wrong being done might have resulted in violence.My day ended after having visited three other children and having conducted a survey of the number of disabled children in each of these villages. This inspection will last another six days and though I am having to deal with adverse weather conditions to spread public awareness, I am determined to work for the cause of these people.I leave at 5 o’ clock in the morning tomorrow for yet another day’s work…

July 15, 2006

Today was another 14 hour day in the interiors of one of the least developed states of India. The first family I met had 3 blind children. In fact we met Sakina, the youngest of the 3 children while driving into her village. We later learnt that she had been having severe pain in her eyes for the past few months. However, she did not have enough money to take a train to Patna and get herself examined, therefore she had been suffering in silence. We gave her the train fare and reassured her that she wouldn’t have to pay the doctor’s fees. After much persuasion, her mother agreed to take her to Patna in the coming week. At her home, we met with her other siblings, one of whom was very bright. Sakina’s brother Kalim played 3 different musical instruments and managed his own phone booth. They told us that their teacher came only once a week and spent not more than half an hour on each kid. Notwithstanding the leniency on the part of the teacher, Kalim’s siblings were doing well at school as Kalim was tutoring them. However, Kalim in the midst of this all had no books and no one to teach him. He has asked us for a Braille watch and wished he had a Braille enabled computer, we hope to make all this available to him soon through your generosity! My next destination was a place called Rampur where I met two blind children. To my horror, I found out that these children saw their teacher only once a year. The government middle school has a similar story. The government had launched a program in which all children would be given their mid day meal at school. However, in this village the children have not been given their lunch in school for the past 4 months.(apparently there isn’t enough food left for the children once the teachers have had their fill.

July 17, 2006

Educators denying education!After meeting with Shiv Kumar Ram, I was shocked to learn about the ideosyncrasies of Government schools. After completing grade 5, Shiv Kumar went to the Govt middle school to join grade 6. the headmaster at the school denied him admission on the pretext that 'the school had no provisions for educating blind children.' later, once the paper work had been done(by a BBPCA official) to establish that he is blind, the headmaster was approached again. (yes, they needed paper work to grant a emaciated child his birth right of education) this time this "embodiment of the true spirit of knowledge" denied the child admission saying that admissions for the current academic year are closed and that he could join school only next year. this child's father (who is a poor farmer), sent an application to the district magistrate, but all in vain. so right now, this child is sitting at home - not because he doesn't want to study, not because his parents don't care to send him to school, but all because a stubborn headmaster is too busy "gratifying his ego."

Fund Raising Target

The cost of funding the entire college education for Neelam and Nazeeni (inclusive of tuition and boarding) is 360,000 rupees (app $8000). And it will take about 45,000 rupees (app $1000) to take Abhay on the base camp expedition. Out of Anchal's initial target of raising $9000, she has committed her entire savings of 25,650 rupees (app $570).

Humble Beginnings

The idea of organising such a fundraiser spurred from a chance encounter with two blind girls.
Here's the self account by Anchal Lochan ;a bare 16 yrs old herself.
It all started during one of my regular visits to the eye doctor. At his clinic, I met two blind girls – Neelam Kumari and Nazeeni Parveen (both of whom came from families below the poverty line) who had just graduated out of high school and needed funding to attend college. I immediately committed all my savings, out of the pocket money and other monetary gifts I had gotten so far, to their education. Albeit my meeting with them was rather brief, they left a throbbing message in my mind – that there were more like them, who needed help and assistance, whose families think of them only as a burden, who have a yearning and a desire to learn, who should be given a fair chance to do well in life …their mere presence motivated me enough to work for their cause.That is when I got involved with the Bihar Blind People’s Care Society (BBPCS) which works for uplifting the blind in rural parts of Bihar. (Bihar happens to be one of the poorest and most underdeveloped states in India.) The organization holds camps where free surgeries are done and facilitates resources to educate blind children, look after their medical needs and basic necessities. The BBPCS is only funded by donations.At the BBPCS’s office I met Abhay, who was very enthusiastic about joining me on this trip. Dr. S.N. Upadhya, the Chairman of this organization buttressed his athletic capabilities in undertaking such a trip. An accomplishment of this sort, by a blind child will only reinforce that the insuppressible spirit which with sheer perseverance can achieve anything. He will serve as a role model to other blind children.

Fundraising for Blind Bihar Association-Everest Base Camp 2006 Trek

In December 2006, I will be trekking up to the base camp of Mt. Everest along with a blind teenager, Abhay Kumar and the firy young teenager who envisioned this landmark feat "Anchal Lochan".

According to historians, geography constitutes the permanent basis of the history of a region. The historical evolution of the Himalayas, and its people more than amply bear out this truth. The geopolitical importance of such mountain ranges and their rugged environment was immense. Had these gargantuan mountains not existed on teh Indian subcontinent, the invaders from the north would have expanded their empire throughout the Indian peninsula.

This awe inspiring mountain range that towers above the indian subcontinent has been the centre of many a novice attempts by lofty ambitious individuals.Inorder to raise awareness about the much neglected cause of educating the blind children of Bihar,this trek is the brainchild of a 16 year old,Anchal Lochan.The participation of a Blind Boy in such an arduous journey ,will nourish a resolute, courageous, enduring, daring and audacious spirit among the rest of the blind minority.The trek is 18 days long, the terrain is extremely rugged and the temperatures in December fluctuate 50C in one day ranging from 30C at midday to -22C at night.