Like last year (click here), here is another round-up of some of the most memorable images taken over the past year. Click the photos to navigate to the associated full blog post. Happy viewing!
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"With God’s blessings, our mission is to rehabilitate people with disabilities; to reach and to serve them through love and dedication with the ultimate goal of enabling independence." (ATD's Mission Statement).
Over the past 17 years, Ashirwad, under the love and dedication of Mr Rambhai Jadav, has grown to provide a number of services and helped thousands of differently-abled persons. The first 7 photos are taken at one of the three day-care centres being run in the district (see the post on the re-opening of the third Upasana centre here). Services are provided free-of-charge for almost 300 children with various disabilities from visual impairment, hearing impairment, speech impairment, deaf and dumb, mental impairments, cerebral palsy and many other multi-disabilities. The third photo has been taken in the multi-sensory and mobility park, created with equipment, colours, materials and textures specifically designed for fun, safety, education and development. An experience to stimulate their minds and senses and to enhance functionality of their limbs. Photo 8-9 are taken during the newly established self-help groups in which differently-abled and other women join together in saving and livelihood collectives. They are spread awareness of important causes. The last five photos show a few of the community-based rehabilitation projects in which hundreds of people are educated and given household and vocational training on their doorstep.
Other activities include physiotherapy, training disability field workers, assistive device camps and social awareness programmes. Further information can be seen at the Ashirwad website as well as pages 20-29 of the Raj Saubhag Janhit magazine.
Technical details: Sony a850 with Tamron 28-75mm lens.
Samprat is an orphanage for physically and mentally challenged children - many of whom have multiple disabilities - and our day-visit was truly a humbling experience. The organisation (with technical assistance from the Blind People's Association) started only about five years ago, operating on a piece of land given by the Government and out of a basic, one room shed with a tin roof. It has expanded to now have an assistive-device play room, separate kitchen and dining room and toilets. The core team of staff are extremely dedicated, some of who spend 24 hours a day lovingly caring for about 20 children. It was very rewarding to see staff overcome the immense challenges they face on a daily basis - several of the children are not lavatory trainable and the majority cannot feed themselves. Seeing the smile on their faces and a spark in their eyes reminded us how much we take for granted and how each and every young person deserves an opportunity to live their life to the fullest.
Although Samprat do not have a website, their contact details are below:
Address: Bilakha Road, Dungarpur, Junagadh, Gujarat 362263
(Opposite Nandkishor Nursery, Near Vijapurna Patiya)
Phone: (+91) 0285 290 4446 | Mobile: 09913236691 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Technical details: Sony a850 with Tamron 28-75mm lens.
The Jamma Masjid was the principle mosque of Old Delhi. It took 6000 workers almost six years to complete (finished in 1656) and he courtyard of the mosque can hold up to 25,000 worshippers!
Photos 6-10 are taken at Red Fort (or Lal Qila), another piece of Shah Jahan's famous architechture from the 17th century. Named after the red sandstone used to build the massive walls that surround the fort, Red Fort was contructed in 1638 when the capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi. Photo 8 shows the abundance of bird life in this part of Northern India.
The next four photos are taken at Charity Birds Hospital located within the compound of Lal Mandir, a nearby Digambar Jain Temple. Working with the Jain principles of "maitri bhaav" (friendship with all living beings) and "live and let live", dedicated vets attend to hundreds of birds that have been hurt and injured. The baby pigeon was only two days old, although the sanctuary housed many larger birds including kites and peacocks. More details can be found here.
The last photo is taken at Raj Ghat, the site at which Mahatma Gandhi was cremated.
Technical details: Sony a850 with Tokina 19-35mm and Tamron 28-75mm lenses.
Photos taken from the Matushree Kashiben Harjivandas Sanghrajka Eye Hospital, operated by Raj Saubhag in Sayla, as well as the dental clinic. The eye hospital, equipped with the latest PHACO machines, conducts over 3000 operations annually - mostly cataract but also surgery for glaucoma, pterygium and corneal relaxing. The dedicated team lead by Dr Kamal Shah and Dr Vidhyut have helped assess over 260,000 patients over the past 8 years of operation.
The dental surgery, having opened more recently in 2010, is the only dental clinic in Sayla - previously patients would have to travel over 30km to the nearest town of Surendranagar, and this for many would have been unaffordable. Dr Sharma and his team extract over 100 teeth every month, and other common treatments include root canal, filings and dentures. All services, both dental and optical, are provided free of charge.
The final two photos were taken at Ladakchand Manekchand Vora (LMV) Girls High School, named after the late Pujya Bapuji who founded Raj Saubhag. Established in 1997, the school was the first girls high school in its local district of 75 villages - a sign of traditional and conservative attitudes in the local area. Bapuji always had the upliftment of the local community in his heart and particularly emphasised with the disadvantaged women. Under the guidance of educationalist and headteacher Chandrakant Vyaas, the school now tops the district league table with 100% pass rates and the majority of college students earning a distinction for their efforts. Their are nominal school fees and the educational operations are funded by donations. For more details on humanitarian activities, you can read the Janhit magazine here.
Technical details: Sony a850 with Tamron 28-75mm lens.
Photos taken during the June grain distribution (anaaj vitran) by Raj Saubhag Ashram. Members of the Ashram have conducted a survey in 33 villages surrounding Sayla to identify the families struggling to make ends meet due to physical and social incapacity. The families listed in the survey receive monthly deliveries of 10-20kg of food grain (totalling almost 4 tonnes), the distribution of which is organised and supervised by Raj Saubhag volunteers in order to keep administrative costs at a minimum. Fruit, biscuits and clothing are delivered on ad hoc basis. (Adapted from the Raj Saubhag website).
Having personally witnessed and experienced the grain distribution several times over the past decade, it is truly impressive to see the dedication by which this activity has been running for many years. Volunteer OAPs aged 70+ travel from Mumbai, several hundreds of miles away, every month to devote 3-4 days of their time for the distribution in all seasons, including the 45 degree summers and the wet monsoons. Most of the recipients are met individually by the volunteers, who keep a register to ensure that benefit is received only by those most deserving. New referrals are interviewed, their homes visited and their financial position discussed with trusted persons in the local community before being awarded eligibility for the scheme. Those with little or no earning potential are favoured, and worthy persons with dependants are given larger quantities of grain. Grains are distributed at the beneficiaries homes or in a well-known location in the centre of the village (often neighbours / younger family members come to collect the grains in the latter case).
Technical details: Sony a850 with Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens.
It was with great happiness that the Ashirwad Trust for the Disabled was able to open a new centre in the town of Surendranagar. This is the third centre run by Ashirwad (in addition to those at Sayla and Limbdi), and although there was day care rehabilitation being offered in near-by Joravarnagar, this new centre is larger and has greater facilities to help the great need for rehabilitating those with physical and mental difficulties. The building has been completely refurbished to meet the needs of caring for 30+ disabled children that are now enrolled, and was opened in the divine presence of Pujya Bhaishree of Raj Saubhag, as well as dignitaries in the field of disability and local minister Kiritsinh Rana (pictured below).
In association with Raj Saubhag, the Ashirwad Trust for the Disabled operates a wide and comprehensive range of services for physically and mentally challenged persons in and around Sayla. These include day care centres, community based rehabilitation, a physiotherapy centre, self help groups, vocational training, deafblind work, professional training and assistive device distribution camps. Further details can be found here.
Technical details: Sony a850 with Tamron 28-75mm and Minolta 70-210mm lenses.
Photos taken during visits to the buttermilk distribution centres in and around Sayla. Write-up adapted from a post on the Raj Saubhag humanitarian facebook site.
Raj Saubhag has been running a buttermilk distribution service, during the harsh summer months, since the last 37 years. Free buttermilk is distributed for approximately three months (depending on the climate and monsoon rains) to help provide relief for local people from the intense temperatures, regularly reaching a scorching 45 degrees.
Below is Pujya Bhaishree Nalinbai Kothari’s address at Siddhsar Buttermilk Distribution Centre:
"Indian tradition instils compassion in every human heart for the less fortunate. Even a small portion of food given in charity is highly valued. Every child is encouraged by his elders to imbibe the qualities of selfless giving and philanthropy, such that even a visit to a temple requires him to offer something to the deity. However, times are changing and values are declining. Inspite of this, towns and villages still have their places of worship either in the form of a Krishna or Mahavir temple. The faithful people with qualities like benevolence, generosity and goodwill towards fellowmen, often observe that the Lord favours them, even if they are not blessed with wealth and material superiority. Such human beings are blessed with peace of mind and contentment. Even if a person owns one rupee, he should posses a heart, kind enough to give away 2 paise (cents). The contentment that comes from a good deed is unparalleled.
In places where the elders observe receding values, every effort must be taken to encourage generosity in the young. Increased kindness and thoughtfulness towards one another will add to peace and goodwill in every village, town and city of India.
This year Raj Saubhag has been providing the buttermilk powder to 17 centres in 13 villages. The poor people living in these hot regions are grateful to receive free buttermilk. Very often volunteers willingly take the responsibility of adding water, arranging for the required vessels and distributing the prepared buttermilk to people in their villages in an organised way. Raj Saubhag acknowledges and applauds the efforts put in by all these volunteers and appeals for more volunteers in every village to come forward and offer this selfless service.
Those, who put the suffering of others before their own needs are always blessed."
Further details of Raj Saubhag's humanitarian activities can be found here.
Technical details: Sony a850 with Tamron 28-75mm and Tokina 19-35mm lenses.