October 12

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Namaskara from Bengaluru (Bangalore)

I had been preparing myself for this memorable journey for the past few months, after a  long tiring 10 hour flight from London Heathrow, my pickup arrived on time, once we left the Bengaluru Airport I saw tall buildings,  the city is the major IT exporter in India hence the nickname being The Silicon Valley of India. I arrived at the hotel in an area called Shivajinagar (where the LCD Office is) around 6 a.m., totally jet lagged.  The first week was the most difficult one for me as I did not know anyone and being in a new environment, I was definitely missing family and friends. After resting I had a couple of days to explore the area, Shivajinagar is the most bustling area located in central Bangalore.  Historical church St. Mary’s Basilica & many temples, mosques and churches are also located here.  The City Bangalore that plays host to dreams is also reeling under a few issues that require urgent attention, but with smart people living here will be able to tackle the issues effectively.  Some of the issues being Chokeful of Traffic, sometimes it’s so bad, you look for at least 1 cm of empty ground on the road and you feel like crying or run away screaming (or both) when you can’t find it.

1st day at work 1st September a warm welcome from Revathy and the team.

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With regards to physically challenged people, this is where Leonard Cheshire Disability have many projects running to help people with disabilities, some of the programmes are Inclusive Education, Access to Livelihoods, and Advocacy in South Asia Region.

Inclusive Education

Every child has the right to primary education, however, the UN estimates that of 61 million of those, 1 in 3 have a disability.  South Asia Region (LCD) have developed inclusive education programmes across Africa and Asia supporting thousands of children every year through the following:

  • Assessments of children with disabilities and provision of assistive devices
  • Adaption of schools to make facilities and materials accessible
  • Teachers trained on how to adopt Inclusive Education methods
  • Work with Government and education authorities to include Inclusive Education Strategies

Access to Livelihoods

Unemployment rates for persons with disabilities of 80% and higher are frequently found in developing countries.  LCD SARO (South Asia) have reached out to over 67,000 persons with disabilities in Asia and Africa to facilitate skill development and livelihood opportunities.  Their innovative ‘Livelihoods Resource Centres’ act as one-stop-shops for persons with disabilities seeking employment, providing training, career guidance and links between employees and employers.  They are unique in offering the full range of support that persons with disabilities need when looking for jobs becoming self-employed.

Access to Livelihood focuses on building the skills and confidence of persons with disabilities, while challenging local skills providers, employers, policy makers and media to change their perceptions of disability and work with Leonard Cheshire Disability to create greater opportunities for people of all abilities to succeed in work or enterprise.  I have visited the local Bangalore Cheshire Home and seen the work they do, I was really inspired by their work. I am taking part in helping to organise an event for the World Disability Day (3rd Dec), event taking place on 10th December.  I will share my experience of the event in my next blog.

I travelled to Pondicherry from 12th September and return Friday 15th September which is bounded on the east by the Bay of Bengal and on the three sides by Tamil Nadu.  I travelled with my colleague Sridhar, we travelled by overnight semi sleeper coach.  We managed to explore Pondicherry before visiting Nagapattinam Village LRC.

Although my role being financial, after completing looking at their financial records and audits I saw a bigger picture when I visited one of the six Livelihood Resource Centres in a village called Nagapattinam in Cuddalore.

Following is the story of V Sankar, age 31, he has a locomotor disability by polio attack.    He decided to learn a new skill so that he could earn a living.  He was very keen to learn and start his own cycle shop.  This Centre supported him for his self employment to purchase spare parts for his cycle shop, also assisted him to apply for a unique ID for for the disability smart card through VLRC (Virtual Livelihood Resource Centre) online.  There are many more LCD have helped the physically challenged individuals.

V Sanka – visit to the Livelihood Resource Centre for continuous support from the Resource Centre

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Livelihood Resource Centre below, This Centre is based in a remote place of Nagapattinam

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The below is the village the above office is based, the village is still developing is an understatment

My visit to the local village of Cuddalore, below is the Tayloring Unit supported by LCD to facilitate stiching and sewing. With help of LCD provided sewing machines and training the below physically challenged girl, she has now become a trainer and now she trains other physically challenged girls.

I also visited a Paper bag unit (below) which is a social group enterprise supported by LCD with MR (mentally retardated challenged) individuals. The unit takes orders from companies and manufacture here made by hand.  Any profits made goes back to the unit to continue training and support these and new individuals.  I am with my colleague Shridhar on my right.

After my visits to the Nagapattinam village we returned back to Pondicherry, I had some time to explore Auroville. Auroville is located South of India, mostly in the State of Tamil Nadu (some parts are in the State of Pondicherry), a few kilometers inland from the Coromandel Coast, approx 150 kms south of Chennai (previously Madras) and 10 kms north of the town of Puducherry.  Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peach and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities.  At the centre of the township lies the Peace Area, comprising the Matrimandir and its gardens, the amphitheatre with the Urn of Human Unity that contains the soil of 121 nations and 23 Indian states, and the project of a lake to help create an atmosphere of calm and serenity and to serve as a groundwater recharge area.

On Sept 24th – 25th visit to Mangalore to celebrate the Centenary Celebrations of Leonard Cheshire Disability.  Received a warm welcome and was given a LCD trophy and flowers as a thank you gesture for volunteering.

Visited the Mangalore Beach and tried local Restaurant with my GSK colleagues

Back to Shivajinagar – visited the local Ishkon Temple and tried some local fruits and snacks… Auto (Rickshaw) are a very convenient form of transport to get around Bangalore as the roads are extremely busy.  Auto can squeeze from small spaces through the traffic its amazing:-)

Bangalore unit’s mission is to provide for the care, treatment, nursing and general well being of the women and girls and children who have permanent or severe disabilities and elderly women who cannot look after themselves, from all classes and communities and who are without, or, have limited means and resources.

In Bangalore – when it rains it pours 😦

Unfortunately like any cities round the world Bangalore also seems to face issues of homeless people & physically challenged people. On the other hand there are some amazing restaurants, shopping malls, parks and gardens. As I observed, I found some unusual names of shops and chemist, also one being “Druggist” = Chemist.  “Charitable Clinic” = NHS.  The coach “Sleep like a Baby” = Luxury Semi-Sleeper.  Below some interesting clips.

Hope you enjoyed reading my blog…. tbc..