Blind, but certainly Not Without A Vision

Ashwani Angadi, a 30 year old woman, is doing exceptional work to empower underprivileged children with visual impairment through education. She was born with full visual impairment, and to accept her that way was not easy for her family. Her parents did not give up on her, and provided her a life that she deserved. Having to go through the plethora of physical, emotional and social challenges associated with blindness, she realized that a whole bunch of visually impaired children like her are denied the opportunity to study. In order to help these children, Ashwini started a residential school called Belaku Academy in 2016, which provides free education for the visually impaired children from the underprivileged background.  The blind children from poor families are usually considered as a 'burden'. "Children with visual impairment should study and become independent enough to get a job and earn their living. Hence, I started this school," she says. The school draws students even from the remotest villages of Karnataka. Ashwani gathers information about these children from gram panchayats. Their families are then approached and informed about the school, where these children can get free education, and strive with other students. The academy is like any other private residential school in terms of infrastructure and technology. Students are taught to use computers and conduct science experiments. The sports and cultural activities are conducted on a regular basis along with other academic studies. "When I started the school, I dreamt of making it very well equipped. That is why we have a separate science laboratory, a digital library and headphones for every child. This is aligned to their regular studies, braille books, and braille computers" she happily adds. Being visually impaired makes it difficult for these children to learn simple tasks, which is why the academy also focuses on teaching their students necessary life skills like folding and keeping their beds clean. The children are even taken for outings to parks, museums, temples, movies, cultural competitions and even performances at various events. “Our disability should not become our weakness. Working hard until we reach our goals is the only way to make our dreams come true. People will ultimately see you as a normal person and they will surely accept you and your disability” At a young age of 23, she achieved many laurels for her social work i.e. educating and empowering the disabled and underprivileged, one of them being the UNITED NATIONS Special Envoy for Global Education's Youth Courage award for Education, on July 12, 2013.Today, there are 35 students who stay at the residential school, and Ashwini wants to build a hostel that can accommodate 225 children. The current school is run in a rented building in Bengaluru and can’t cater to the growing number of children who are in need of these facilities. “Many parents are approaching me to give admission to their children, but I cannot accommodate more students because of the inconvenience of space. That’s why I bought a piece of land, and am planning to get a building constructed where I can accommodate 200 more children. Currently, the construction has been stopped due to lack of funds. Only with your support, we can continue giving a better future to more underprivileged students.”, says Ashwani.  Ashwani has empowered the children who were considered as a burden. She wants to expand her reach and provide opportunities to more such children. To support her vision, please contribute by following the below mentioned details. Details for direct bank transfer / UPIUPI: [email protected] (Copy to clipboard)OrVirtual account name: Ashwini Angadi Trust - MilaapAccount number: 2223330079491359IFSC code: RATN0VAAPISBank name: RBL 
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Meet 2 Teens on their Journey to Empower Youth

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?If I am only for myself, what am I?If not now, then when? – HillelInspired by this saying, Aniket Gupta & Seher Taneja started their journey to inspire & engage youth for leadership through direct participation in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations from IDEAS TO ACTION. Started "Tale of Humankind" as an initiative of Global Changemakers Foundation envisioned with values of Inclusion to consider all perspectives equally, Integrity to honor the best in ourselves and others, Inspiration to move people to believe in better, Innovation to make a difference, differently & Impact to create change that matters.People often say that "Youth has the power to change the world" but they do not let a child interact with the outside world. The irony exists because there are societal limitations of the domain of Education and prefer well-filled minds more than well-formed minds. The latter thus gets demotivated and the scope of the growth of creativity, imagination and curiosity reduced.Aniket and Seher collaborated with Educators & School Leaders all around the world to integrate Global Goals in the Classroom in impactful & engaging ways. Till now, they have also organised Twitter conversations, "Post- COVID Educational Pedagogies" & "Connecting Classrooms Globally" moderated by eminent educationists & Torch Bearers of Technology. With a focus on inclusiveness, they hosted a conversation #Stigma2Strength" to Destigmatize Menstruation in Classroom to empower women. Their 30-days project #OurRightsCampaign" to create awareness about 30 Human Rights in their language that is vital for creating a culture of human rights reached thousands of people. To make Positive Psychology, a household term & Mental Health, a positive term in society especially in times of COVID, they presented a series of 7 movies themed on "Youth For Mental Health" featuring responses to most pressing questions related to Mental Health by Experts & Youth Advocates, in support of #SameHere Global Movement. They also host a Podcast Show to bring together powerful voices on the issues that matter to today's youth & have released 5 episodes by now, listened by over a lakh of people.Aniket's initiative Indian Science and Technology Campaign is focused on moving from ideas to action & to make the world a better place by investing in the power of youth and enabling them with resources, mentorship, and support, that can change the world. This will enable the youth to be sustainable, creative, and innovative.This initiative reached over a hundred governments & private schools to conduct workshops on "Youth Entrepreneurship for SDGs" & organized Vigyan Manch Programs that seek students to come up with innovative solutions for Global Goals. They strongly believe that every child has immense power &  just needs a tap that can unleash potential for empowering them to become changemakers.Our Education System is developed for masses but every kid is so different & if we don't have resources to individualize the educational curriculum, then we are pushing kids through a funnel that may not fit them. The idea of the child's growth halt was something they became worried about & they started writing their journey to empower the youth to explore, impact, create, move from ideas to action & do what they love. They are visioned to create a world where everyone is really a changemaker.
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क़िस्सागोई... Stories Untold.

क़िस्सागोई: एकअभिनवपहल लॉकडाउन पीरियड की रिक्तता को सदुपयोगी कार्य में लगाने की मंशा से हैदराबाद संभाग के केंद्रीय विद्यालय संख्या 2, नौसेनाबाग, विशाखापट्नम के प्राचार्य निशिकांतअग्रवाल द्वारा "यूट्यूब " पर 'क़िस्सागोई...स्टोरीजअनटोल्ड ' के नाम से एक शिक्षा प्रदचैनल बनाया गया है.(लिंक : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDnOYA6YPLo4W7XWSYuGN8Q  )    क़िस्सागोई दर असल कहानी सुनाने की कला है, जिसमे किसी विषय विशेष पर रोचक ढंग से जानकारी दी जाती है. इसमें उन लोगों, उन हस्तियों, उन घटनाओं के बारे में जानकारी सम्मिलित की गई , जिनके बारे में सामान्य तौर पर कोई भी जानकारी किसी पाठ्य पुस्तक में नहीं दी जा सकी,जिनके बारे में किसी कक्षा में पढ़ाया नहीं जाता और जिनकी जानकारी हर भारतीय को होनी चाहिए. अभी तक प्रसारित दो सीरीज़ में अलवर के प्रसिद्ध शिक्षक इमरानख़ान, मेट्रो पुल के नीचे स्कूल चलाने वाले राजेश शर्मा, टाइगर मैन ऑफ इंडिया, स्कूल प्रतिज्ञा के गुमनाम रचनाकार, भारत के पहले दृष्टि बाधित आइ ए एस जैसे प्रेरणादायी व्यक्तित्व शामिल किए गयेहैं.   विद्यार्थियों की सहायता हेतु गंगा क्विज़व अंबेडकर चित्रकला प्रतियोगिता में पंजीकरण की जानकारी के वीडियो भी इस चैनल पर डाले गये हैं. विद्यार्थियों एवं अभिभावकों से इस अभिनवपहल को बहुत हीउत्साहवर्धक प्रतिक्रिया मिल रही है.…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
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Adversity drives Innovation: Learning in the time of COVID-19

I rejoined the Delhi office of Pratham Education Foundation on March 2nd after a hectic 10-day schedule of shooting a film about the organisation. The team at our Delhi office had just begun to brainstorm on how to use the extensive footage we had shot. Little did we know that within a couple of weeks, life would come to a screeching halt.  As early as March 5th, 2020, the organisation suspended work-related travel and by March 17th, a week before the nationwide lockdown began, all our field operations were halted as the threat of COVID-19 started to get real in India. For most people at Pratham, working in the field with communities and children was a fundamental element of their jobs. We were more concerned about the millions of children and youth we were directly engaging through our learning camps, library groups, and educational and vocational programmes. The sudden interruption could undo much of the progress made by us. Two things helped us tide over this crisis. One was, of course, the deep penetration of mobile phones and wireless data. The other was the rapport and relationships we had cultivated through our work at the grassroots level over the past two-and-a-half decades. Our nationwide network of Pratham team members and volunteers sprang into action almost immediately to ensure continuity in our interventions in the times of physical distancing.  Sharing our repository of digital learning content containing 3,000 videos, 300 educational games, and 3 learning applications in 11 languages was the first step, but there was a challenge. Despite widespread use of smartphones in India, there were many in our target group who had feature phones. Our teams burnt the midnight oil to convert and adapt the learning content into SMS texts. We are calling this daily engagement and remote learning activity with children and parents – Karona, Thodi Masti, Thodi Padhai. Under it, we share project-based learning activities with children in more than 12,000 communities across 20 states. Our field teams then follow-up with the children’s families through video conferencing or phone calls for further engagement. This helps us in keeping our ear to the ground and get quick feedback straight from the field. The most heartening bit is that children send us pictures and videos of them working on projects and doing activities with their families. We hear straight from parents and grandparents, who are now deeply involved in their children’s journey of learning. This engagement is critical not just for improving learning but also to reduce stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions. The daily tasks have provided a routine and structure to the days of thousands of children. Our focus is on sharing engaging learning content so that children look forward to their daily tasks. We also try to ensure that these tasks and activities are designed using things found easily at home. For instance, we shared a Whatsapp video titled ‘Tring Tring telephone’ to teach children how to make a phone using paper cups and some string. Many children immensely enjoyed the activity and the sheer joy of creating something from scratch. To engage pre-school children, we share SMS and Whatsapp activities with their parents. For instance, we asked children to use number cards and set up a shop using wrappers, vegetables, or anything found at home to sell to the grown-ups who acted as customers. Children learnt social interaction, counting, object identification, and the basics of shop keeping while having fun when doing the activity. It is interesting that before the COVID pandemic, we were working in 5,000 - 7,000 villages but today, our remote learning content is being accessed by more than 12,000 communities. Nothing stopped us from exploring remote learning options earlier, but COVID-19 caused a disruption that motivated us to innovate and adapt. This has also created opportunities for forging long-term collaborations with other organisations and government departments to strengthen foundational learning for children. So far, we have collaborated with 14 state governments, more than 200 NGOs and other partners to enable remote learning across the country by sharing our digital content and SMS learning content mapped to grades and subjects, along with IVR and radio content.  Our team in Maharashtra has collaborated with All India Radio’s Nagpur station to broadcast a programme titled ‘Shale Baherchi Shala’ (A school outside school) twice a week. The programme is broadcast in six districts of Maharashtra. And the villages where there are limited radio devices and smart phones, loudspeakers that are already in place in public spaces are used. When schools reopen, the children will return after having experienced remote learning and virtual classrooms, parents would be much more involved in their child’s learning, and teachers will have experience of teaching remotely. It is time we start preparing for this new normal and aim for an amalgamation of best practices of classroom and virtual learning so that the lessons learnt are not lost when “normalcy” is restored. A recent report by the World Bank Group titled ‘The COVID-19 Pandemic: Shocks to Education and Policy Responses’ shares some insight. “The school closures will necessarily drive a lot of innovation in the use of learning technology, as discussed,” it says. “Once schools have reopened, systems can shift from emergency remote-learning systems to more sustained models that blend remote learning and other uses of technology with teacher-led instruction. Systems should have a sense of what is working so far, in terms of technology; the most effective methods can be integrated with classroom teaching to drive learning and keep students engaged.” Even in these dark and difficult times, we chose to be optimists. We believe that adversity can drive innovation and our experience during the lockdown makes us believe that the future of learning in India is brimming with opportunities.
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Milk is Necessity Not Luxury. 7 weeks of #milk4infants initiative

The government and the NGOs are providing dry ration to the poor and needy, but the issue of nutritional needs of women and children has not been dealt with. There are many Adivasis (tribal) women who are getting dry ration, but they also need milk because they can’t feed solid grains to infants and toddlers,” said Amar Singh, 26, who is the founder of the Revolutionary Youth Club. For the last one year, the club – comprising 20 volunteers – is looking after the cleanliness and educational needs of tribals in Jharkhand. Amar is a station master, who lives in Barkakana in Ramgarh district of Jharkhand. As per the 2011 census, Jharkhand has a population of around 3.3 crore, of which around 1.6 crore are women, and around one-third (50,58,212) of these women are malnourished. The population of Ramgarh stands at 949,443, of which around 48% are women. Tribals form a large share of this population.The team has provided milk packets to over 1,000 women in tribal areas. According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, the number of malnourished children is increasing in Jharkhand — 71.5 per cent children in rural areas aged between 6 and 59 months are found to be anaemic, 67.3 per cent women in the age group 15 – 49 years are anaemic, while 85 per cent of Adivasi women are anaemic.Recently, as a relief measure during the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, the Jharkhand government had announced to provide two months ration in advance to the beneficiaries of the public distribution system. But there are women and infants who also need milk besides ration.To address the nutritional needs of women and infants during this crisis, Amar has been providing milk packets and biscuits in the tribal-dominated areas of the state. He has distributed over 1,800 milk packets and 4,500 biscuits in the tribal stretch of 10 kms in Ramgarh.Amar and his team has provided over 4,000 biscuits and 1,800 milk packets to tribal women and children in Barkakana“Women in tribal areas can’t afford to buy milk or Cerelac for their infants. Instead of milk, they give a mixture of semolina and water to the infants. Some give maad bhaat (cooked rice water) to their children or pulse water,” said Amar, who has helped over 1,000 tribal women by providing them with milk packets. He added: “These tribals don’t understand the importance of essential nutrients. They are feeding their hungry children whatever food is available with them.”With all sources of avenues closed, the lockdown has affected the livelihood of these tribals in Jharkhand. They can’t buy milk and look after their overall health and of their children.According to the World Health Organisation, mothers should breastfeed infants for the first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health of the child. But there are many women who are forced to breastfeed even after six months. Amid this lockdown, the overall health of these women may also get affected considering they don’t have money to buy milk for their kids.The team has distributed over 4,000 biscuit packets to children. “I met one woman who told me that she was advised to feed milk to her child for six months. However, she is still breastfeeding her kid. She can’t afford to buy milk daily. The health of many such women is getting affected because of this,” said Amar.“We distribute milk packets so that either the mother or the child could consume it. Besides, we also make women aware about their health and how important is milk consumption for both the child and mother,” added Amar, who, along with his 12 volunteers, visits tribal areas to distribute milk packets daily and spends 10% of his monthly salary to procure essential items.Earlier, the volunteers decided to pool in some money so that they could distribute at least 25 litres of milk every day. But when they started distributing milk packets, they felt that there are many more who might need help. So, they started posting videos on social media and got financial support. People not only from Jharkhand, but also from other parts of the country helped them. They started distributing these packets after the 21-day lockdown was extended on April 18 so that tribal women do not miss out on proteins and nutrients.With the help of 12 volunteers, Amar (second from the right) distributes milk packets in the tribal areas dailyTalking about the challenges while distributing milk packets, Amar said: “Since most of the production units are shut, procuring milk packets and biscuits is a little challenging. We collect milk packets and biscuits from many shops. Since these are perishable goods, we can’t store these for days. We have to step out daily to procure these. Besides, we don’t know if these women are drinking milk themselves or using it for their families. When we distribute packets, many women whose children are 3-4 years old ask us for biscuits for their children as well. Kids come running to us when we visit them on our two-wheeler. It becomes difficult for us to say no to them. Also, sometimes when we have fewer packets, we get mobbed and people start arguing. It becomes difficult for us to provide packets to all of them daily. We need to understand that milk is a necessity and not a luxury,” said Amar.  During this lockdown, many migrants, including women and infants, have been coming into the state through railway tracks. Since Amar works with the railways, he keeps a tab and provides milk packets to these women who have travelled long distances.“Besides these tribal women, we give milk packets to the elderly and those who are paralysed and can’t chew. When we visit a community, say, that has 100 people, there would be 10 women who have new-borns, and 3-5 elderly who would need milk because they can’t eat. The government must address the nutritional needs of tribals besides providing them with dry ration,” he summed up.  
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IPS ARIF Shaikh’s brainchild "Chuppi Todd" reducing domestic violence cases in Raipur

Domestic violence is a curse to the society that knows no bounds and harms individual lives. People and families irrespective of any cultural, racial, economic, class or gender distinctions have been subjected to this act. The nature of this violence can occur in physical, emotional, sexual and even financial levels. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary drastically. However, the one recurring problem is the partner’s efforts to maintain power and control over the latter through intimidation and violence.  Understanding Domestic violenceThis threat of domestic violence is a vicious circle wherein an individual is often reluctant to leave the violent abuser or even admit that they are being abused. The reason behind this fear is the scarcity of social awareness and education pertaining to this issue. The victim’s self-esteem gets trampled so badly that they lose sense of purpose and self-worth. The ability to make decisions becomes severely compromised and as a result, they question their ability of survival and hardly gather courage to revolt against the prolonged violence which they undergo.   Domestic violence and its upheaval during lockdownThe statistics during the lockdown are even more disheartening and these hiked cases of domestic violence are occurring because the abuser and the victim have been locked together. It is not that such cases has gone up only in India, rather the whole world is witnessing an exponential rise, including the countries like China, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. In India, the early instances of the aforesaid problem appeared in the data provided by the National Commission of Women (NCW) during the mid of April, which indicates an approximate 100% increase in cases related to domestic violence. In Chhattisgarh, currently the Raipur Police department alone is receiving 60-65 cases of domestic violence per month. To one’s surprise, these complains are not only restricted to women folk but around 10 to 15 complaints have been made by men against their wives, which aptly shows that the problem is not only restricted to the wives. Raipur Police’s unique initiative against Domestic violenceAmid these instances, Raipur Police has come up with a  unique campaign named "Chuppi Todd" (which translates to 'Break Silence') in a bid to cope up with this serious problem during the Covid-19 lockdown period. Under the aegis of this campaign, the Raipur police is in constant association with the victims of domestic violence in order to ensure their safety by counseling and also taking appropriate action against the perpetrators. Speaking to the news agency ANI, Arif Shaikh, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Raipur said, "Many domestic violence cases were reported during this lockdown period. To address the issue we have launched a 'Chuppi Tod' campaign. Under this, we evaluated domestic violence cases that were registered in the last three years and identified around 1500 victims under the same." During first 9 days of its inception, 49 men and 395 women reported violence over telephonic complaint in Raipur. Among these, complaints, action was taken by going to the homes of 4 men and 36 women complainants. On the toll free number, people even from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have complained of domestic violence. By the ninth day of the campaign, a total of 444 complaints were received on phone and 18 on WhatsApp. Among these, Police has taken direct action in 244 complaint cases and another 200 of such cases have been resolved through counseling and negotiations on telephonic conversations. "Chuppi Todd", dealing with Domestic violenceA Psychological survey in form of a questionnaire consisting of 11 questions has been prepared by the Raipur police for the victims of domestic violence which is aimed at ensuring that the victims are in a safe space. The survey also aims to collect information about the victims of domestic violence and to evaluate their mental state. The questions have greatly helped the police by enabling them to categorize different behaviors, traits, and conditions of the victims as well as their abusers. Describing this initiative, it was told by DSP Amrita Sori that till now, more than 1967 cases have been lodged under this initiative. Among total number of cases, 84% complainants are wives, subjected to violence while remaining 16% complaints have been made by the Husbands. Out of total cases 80% of the matters have been resolved by the police's counseling and persuasion, whereas direct action has been taken in many serious cases.  Due to the lockdown, most of the complaints have been lodged through telephone and in some cases the complainant themselves reached the police station and lodged the complaint. "We have also launched a toll-free number and a WhatsApp number through which victims can contact us and we immediately address such matters. We are taking action against the people responsible for these acts, be it, women or men," said SSP Shaikh. He further elaborated that the reason behind the increase in matters of domestic violence is that people are now staying locked in their homes. Some people who are addicted to alcohol etc. are apparently upset. Besides this, such incidents are also on increase due to financial constraints among people due to the ongoing lockdown. About this case, SSP Arif Shaikh says that the lockdown is making the common people face numerous challenges. During these adverse times, Raipur police is fully committed to ensure justice to every victim of domestic violence, through the “Chuppi Tod” campaign. We are making sure that no woman falls prey to domestic violence and no man undergoes mental pain and agony arising out of the marital life. We always say in our counseling, invest your energy into creative works during this lockdown.“Chuppi Tod”, fulfilling the goal of a happy family is indeed a praiseworthy initiative by the Raipur police who have kept their eyes open for signs of violence around the city and the helpless individuals are being ensured protection at the same time by reaching out to them for help or direct help to the spot for those who are in need of the same. Similar initiatives are ought to be pioneered in different districts and cities to cope up with these perverse situations. This is certainly a traumatic time for all. Only when we join our hands can we succeed in keeping ourselves totally safe and happy.One may lodge their complaints by calling at these numbers 0771-4247110, 94791-90167 and through a WhatsApp message on 94791-91250. 
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