Monday, January 30, 2012

Either you are with me or against me in this!!

Either you have sex and get pregnant or not have sex at all. Interesting stance that the so called forthcoming religion in the world has. (Religious views on Contraception)
“This is a direct attack on religious liberty and will not stand in a Romney presidency,”.. so says the spokeswoman of Mitt Romney - the Republican  presidential candidate in US. (And the reason she says so is to appease the conservative catholic Christians.)
Another statistic (Source; NY times) is that 50% of the pregnancies in US are unwanted. And among those 40% end up in abortion. Going by this the 3 million addition to US population last year would have meant ~2 million children unwanted!!
So, guess people cannot experiment with this fantasies to without getting pregnant. Not that every time one has sex she will get pregnant, but without emergency contraception or birth control pills, the population explosion would be unstoppable. 
Even in India no political party has the courage to say that birth control is not required. Didn't expect this from the self proclaimed police of the world!
Imagine, if Republicans come to power. Now that the likes of George Bushes are running out of ideas to attach other countries, here is the new reason. Attack every nation that suggests birth control pills. 
Here is what would be their reason for rogue states... 

"US intelligence has found secret sites where birth control pills are being produced. If not attacked, the world freedom is at a risk. And we, the republicans cannot allow any one to control birth because we do not subscribe to it. Even if we do not find these birth control pill manufacturing centers we'd have eliminated a regime which is a form of tyranny by allowing contraception. US alone has the right to do this. So, I the next gen George Bush alone will control the births across the world. Only through me should every woman in this world give birth.

Either you are with me or against me in this!!"

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Day when the hearing impaired listened to me!!

I could see that the gate opened into a small ground followed by two rooms with not even a concrete slab. We were waiting for some one to open the lock of the gate. Some guy came with keys. He looked alright..well built and decently dressed and with a badge in his neck. I appeared to be overly dressed up for the occasion in a suit and the laptop. He didn't bother to look into our eyes and was trying to unlock but it didn't happen. The person with me signaled him in some unfamiliar signs and the guy went in, brought another set of keys which opened the lock. I wondered what did the person tell the guy!! 

The guy went away with no change of expression in his face as if he has ignored our presence and that he didn't care whether we came in or not. I was bemused at the least!

I walked in and I met the lady of the place and the guy, who heads the center, invited me inside. For a place handling the students from Below poverty line, the place was well furnished. It had a computer connected to the printer and a latest printer, a mission and vision goal attached to the wall along with the daily activity planner etc. It felt no less professional than any corporate home except that the walls and the ceiling are in a shabby condition.

The name of the person with whom I travelled to this place and who is also the head of that center is Sridhar. And the name of the center is a branch of Dr. Reddy Foundation School for People with Disability!!

Sridhar asked me to join him outside to watch the prayer being performed in the ground by the students. The ground was with lot of sand and less pebbles making it easier to walk and I could see that male students and female students were standing separately. They were like any other school going children standing in queue. It is just that the students here were a group of 40 students any where from 18-35 years of age unlike the children of 5-15 years that we are familiar seeing performing a prayer in school.

The prayer started with "Vandemataram" and some were singing and the others remained quite. I wasn't sure why, at least till that moment! Once it was over, a person started reading out the pledge. While I do not remember the actual words, it said something like this .. " I will not be bogged down any hindrances. I will perform duties to my strength. I will not harm any one and that I will remain every confident ... ". I dont remember to have performed any pledge like that.

While every one was repeating this pledge, there were these students who would repeat the signals that a lady instructor was telling them along with the pledge. There was a person sitting in the chair with a stick besides him, but was still reciting the pledge. Another girl was standing alright, but her feet weren't in proper shape. Another person is suffering with Polio. Each one of them was reciting the pledge. 

Once the pledge was over, every one started getting into their classes. I saw that one of the girls walked too closely to another girl and that's when I realized that she was blind. She has come here for a 3 month training on basic IT skill!!

The whole air was as if telling me that human senses are not limited and that nothing can stop a person from performing any action.

Sridhar was explaining me the break up of this batch. Most of them are from the families with an average income of less than Rs15,000/- per annum. and these are from the remotest part of the state. Some one lives only 150 kms from Hyderabad, a leading metropolitan city in India. But it still takes around 6 hours to reach that place. (No hill road, simple roads on plains). And these guys have come all the way including girls to stay in hostels in the city and then study in this training center and get into the basic jobs like data entry jobs, support staff in companies like KFC, retail stores etc.
I could also observe that the in the batch half of the students were girls. I was happy looking at that number and the drive that these woman had. 

Sridhar asked me if I'd like to see any of the classes happening and I chose the obvious one. A class in which MS Excel was being taught.. I could not stop myself from going there. When I entered, an excel sheet was projected and 3-4 students were entering data and performing the basic functions like SUM and the others were repeating the same, one after other. 

A person who accompanies from my client showed me how the students are identified and trained. To begin with, a booklet is shared with the students and they are asked to write down about their strengths, weaknesses and what do they want and what do they want to become. 

I was overwhelmed by the simplicity of the words and expectations. One of the girl's expectations were

a) I want to communicate in English.
b) I should be able to earn money.
c) I don't want to lose my friends.

and this girl had to drop off from her intermediate education since her parents could not afford that with their monthly income. I am really not sure if I can articulate my expectations in such a simple fashion and iam not even sure what my expectations are!!

One of the students asked for a clarification from the faculty and I said let me handle the doubt. The doubt was relatively simple, how to select a cell in a formula using Mouse. When I taught them how to do that and a few more techniques to do things simply, the happiness in their face was amazing. They thanked me multiple times for letting them aware of such simple things. They could relate to me quickly since I was speaking their native language and they could converse without any apprehensions. And all the three students with whom I could speak could hardly walk and they get a monthly pension of 500/- a month in which they are pursuing this course.

I spoke to the trainer to these people and asked her how long has she been working and what inspired her. I thought she would be a normal graduate with  not lot of career options and hence sticking around. Then she told me that she has completed her Masters and has worked in the industry for some time and chose to work in this organization! A brave lady with a focus on her priorities I should say. I felt humbled at the whole place and left the room.

Then, I was taken to the room where the hearing impaired students were getting taught. Things were only getting interesting for me. When I went in every one of them stood up. I could not tell them to sit down and not to stand up for me. I signaled them to sit down and even i sat among them and started listening to the class. I must say it was one of the most attentive and disciplined classes that I ever saw. While pin drop silence was obvious, there was such attention to detail and the students would ask doubts without shy even at probably some of the basic things. I was happy at their courage and willingness to learn new things. 

Then came the wonderful part of the total day. I stood up and offered the instructor to allow me to teach a session. So, I explained some basic communication skills in English to them. You may ask How? I wrote things on the board and the instructor would explain the same in sign language, if the students didn't understand whatever I wrote. For 15 mins they asked me what was it about. I did a small role play and was amazed at their enthusiasm. I came to know couple of signs like Thank you and Good morning!! Later I came to know that students from each region have different signs for conveying a message. Earlier I thought that the sign language was universally same.

Some of these students include women from far off rural areas and I was amazed at their attitude towards life. They are willing to question the hindrances being offered by their inabilities and are trying every bit to force themselves to live with dignity. They would expect no sympathy, but only opportunities.

The trainers spoke of incidents where some of the employers wouldn't offer opportunities to any of these candidates, but later have offered multiple opportunities looking at their dedication and performance. 

While the children have been amazing, I should say that the trainers are the heroes. They left very lucrative job offers to ensure that they do their bit to the society. I hope I garner such courage in a very short span of time to consider the contributions from my life noteworthy!!