Even without Sight, there is still Vision- Blind Relief Association paves the way in transforming lives of visually impaired people.

By:Reshma Jain

‘Not being able to reach the stars does not mean you can’t reach for them’ and Ankur Dhama, an alumnus of JPM Senior Secondary School run by the Blind Relief Association proves it right. Ankur was awarded the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2018. He was the first totally blind (B1) para-athlete to represent India at the Rio Paralympics 2016.

Over the seventy-six years of its existence, the Blind Relief Association believed and continue to believe that children and adults with visual impairment and other disabilities are invaluable human assets. They deserve the right kind of recognition and opportunity in an inclusive environment. The Association believes that such recognition can be gained by empowering them through education and training. Provision of such need-based services for the visually impaired to enable them to develop their latent talents and realize their fullest potential is what the Blind Relief Association, Delhi strives for.

As a responsible non-governmental organization and earnest member of the civil society, the Blind Relief Association decided to go beyond its mandated services to the visually impaired and reach out  to the poor, vulnerable, and the homeless people in Delhi.

The global pandemic and the national lockdown imposed as a result of Covid-19 crisis has greatly affected the day-to-day lives of people around the world.  The association in collaboration with other NGOs has been cooking and distributing meals to the homeless and poor people affected by the lockdown. The association also provided meals (dinner) to visually handicapped persons as well as with other disabilities, at their doorstep.

In total, meals for 800-850 people were prepared every day in the association’s kitchen by own staff until the end of May. Apart from cooked food, the Association also distributed ration, fruits, biscuits, soaps, and masks. Importantly, the masks were and continue to be produced in the association’s sewing unit by a few vocational trainees and staff, who stayed behind during lockdown.

As per the data provided by the association, around 51,000 meals were prepared and distributed to the homeless labourers and less privileged persons and families. Around 1,700 facemasks were made, out of which 500 masks were stitched and donated to the underprivileged and persons with disability. Rest of the 1,200 masks were sold to corporates, offices and individuals. More than 900 ration kits were prepared by the association and distributed in different parts of Delhi in partnership with other NGOs.

Around 1,880 rotis in collaboration with Roti Sewa was prepared and provided to the migrants and daily wagers living in seven slums of Gurgaon. More than 3,600 persons with disability residing in different parts of Delhi were provided with dry ration, fruits, and facemasks.

Speaking to Socio Story, Radhika Bharat Ram, joint secretary of the association, said, “The Blind Relief Association, being in the field of giving from so long, we feel it is our duty to reach out to as many people as we can and do our part. The objective of this initiative is to make sure that the most affected people during the global pandemic and the national lockdown – i.e. the stranded, jobless poor, the underprivileged and persons with disability have their basic needs met. It was the collective initiative of the management and core staff of the organization.”

Apart from education and vocational training of the blind and visually impaired, offered at its campus in New Delhi, the association also has several supportive services and facilities in their campus. These include school education, teacher training, computer training centre and vocational training centre among the others.

Speaking further on students of the JPM school, Radhika Bharat Ram (45), said, “Almost hundred percent of the Association’s school pass-outs pursue higher education in different universities. Numerous of them are working in reputed positions in the field of education, public and private organizations. There are lawyers, and bank officers, writers and poets too. Some vocational trainees employed in various public and private sector industries had received best workers award from the President of India.”

The Association is a recipient of the National Award for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities – 2012 for the “Best Institution Working for the Cause of Persons with Disabilities.”  The Award instituted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India was presented by the President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee at a ceremony held in New Delhi on February 17, 2013.

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