An awakening service
A dedicated cultural team of the IAB, with fair knowledge of music, which travels around the State has so far presented 200 shows.
FOR 21-year-old Samsudeen the opportunity to spot his talent in mimicry was not there at Devipattinam in Ramanathapuram district. All along his life, he had been idling without identifying his hidden talent. But now, this visually challenged student of the music college is a much sought after singer in any cultural programme performed by the visually challenged people.
"A big thanks to the Indian Association for the Blind at Sundararajanpatti for all encouragement given to me," says Samsudeen, while leaving for the mid-afternoon `namas' (puja).
His is not an isolated case. For, the IAB is patronising more than 300 visually challenged persons. Right from five years to 40 years old, so many with this disability are provided education and self-confidence besides shelter and food.
Built on a sprawling campus spread over 30,000 sq.ft., the IAB offers various courses and vocational training to the visually challenged persons.
"We run a special school for boys and girls wherein we provide education for them. There is also an integrated education for the blind, for those, who are willing to study in schools and colleges outside IAB. Our students are studying in over 17 colleges and nine schools in the district, including the American College, the Meenakshi Government College for Women and the American College Higher Secondary School," says S.M.A. Jinnah, founder of the IAB.
The IAB also offers free transport for girls and children. For others, the Tamil Nadu Transport Corporation runs two special services from the Sundararjanpatti to the Periyar Bus Stand.
"We lay emphasis on self-employment opportunities for the visually challenged and instil confidence in them so that they can become independent like others. A six-month telephone operator course is being conducted. At the end of the course we also help them by arranging bank loans to install a telephone booth and identify a suitable place for them to start their PCOs," says Mr.Jinnah.
"Besides, the IAB also provide them necessary training in handling the `talking machine' to identify the usage charges and the time consumed," he says.
"The course was started in 1990-91 and so far, more than 100 visually challenged persons have been either employed in private sectors or have owned their booths," says Mr.Jinnah.
A one-year shorthand and typewriting course is also conducted by the IAB in both Tamil and English. "This course was also started in 1990-91 and it became a tremendous hit as more than 50 students of ours are employed in several government offices and banks," he says.
For the elders, who are not in a position to continue education, the IAB runs a vocational training programme through Vocational Rehabilitation Training Centre, where courses in knitting, recanning and tailoring are offered. "Tailoring is really a hard job. We need the assistance of someone to cut the cloth so that we can stitch it. But many are quite doubtful of our ability in tailoring. But for recanning works we get appreciable orders from outside," says Ramamirtham, staff of IAB, a visually challenged person herself.
"At present we have enrolled 20 students including five girls for the tailoring course," says Mr.Jinnah.
Like other schools and colleges, the IAB also excels in extra-curricular activities.
A dedicated cultural team with fair knowledge of music travels around the State. So far the team has conducted more than 200 music performances. They do not stop with music. They also have good dancers in `karagattam' and `oyilattam'.
"These children are naturally talented and gifted artistes. They are shrewd and observe things closely, which makes our job easier," says Pushpadason, who trains them.
"But for our donors, we would not have been so successful. Last year we received donation to the tune of Rs.14 lakhs from M.Thangaraj, an NRI who was a professor in civil engineering in Australia. Besides S.P. Gopalakrishnan, president, IAB, donates commodities and other essential goods worth Rs.4 lakhs every year, which includes 10 kg of rice for each of the 200 visually challenged families every month," says Mr.Jinnah.
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