While the Vision-Aid team in Boston was focused on the mega annual event, a wonderful new Vision-Aid program was taking birth, halfway around the world, in Vizag India. On Monday July 22nd, the first batch of Vision-Aid Maskati Scholars arrived at Vizag from nearby areas and began their six-month long journey to acquire new skills, in the residential training program in Vizag.
In April 2019 year, a generous donor created an endowment fund, in honor of her parents Dr. Badar and Mariam Maskati of Mumbai. The endowment funds a scholarship to train visually impaired youth in an intensive residential training program that will help them acquire skills in Computer Applications, Mobile Technologies, Spoken English and other soft Skills. The program also included coaching in Banking and Public Sector employment examinations.
The Vision-Aid team in Vizag has been hard at work initially with recruitment and screening, and then with the planning and arrangements. The team at Vizag was trying to ensure that the time the scholars spend at Vision-Aid proves most beneficial and productive for the scholars. In addition to class room skills training, the scholars will also have extra-curricular activities such as Yoga, integrated into the program, to provide a balanced curriculum. The entire cost for the program, including residential costs, training costs and incidental costs are covered by the Maskati endowment and with generous support of other donors. In September, we are excited to welcome an AIF-Clinton Fellow, will join and contribute to this new program.
The program opened at 10 AM with a ceremonial lighting of the lamp. Members of the leadership team gave short welcome messages. All the students introduced themselves and explained how they were selected for this program and what they expect to learn. Light Refreshments were served to all. After that students got their first computer lesson and the training began as per the daily schedule. In the afternoon, the first online spoken English class started.
This first batch of scholars are part of an initial pilot. There is a plan to scale up the program to other locations in the future. There is also a plan to continue and expand the current program in Vizag, with a new batch of scholars joining every six months.
All the students come from poor, under-privileged segments of the surrounding communities and are very excited and eager to take advantage of the opportunity. Their profiles are listed below:
1. Miss K. Satyavati, aged 21 years, suffers from total vidual impairment. She has a Bachelors Degree in Science and lives in a village about 100 kilometers from Vizag. Having completed her graduation, she is seeking help in pursuing various skill development courses and her aspiration is to secure a job and become financially independent.
2. Mr L. Siva Narayana, aged about 25 years, suffers from complete blindness. He has a Bachelors Degree in Science and lives near Vizag. He is keen in pursuing Computer education and secure a job in a technical field, which he feels will be a turning point in his life.
3. Mr Nasik Basha is a 23 year old blind young man. He has has a Bachelors Degree in Law and lives in Vijayawada about 400 kilometers from Vizag. He is keen on getting coached to write competitive and banking examinations and secure a job in one of those sectors. He comes from a family of an farmers and is preparing for competitive exams. His father is a farmer and mother a home maker.
4. Mr Reddy Krishna, 24 years old, suffers from total vision impairment. He has a Bachelors degree in Social Work and lives in Srikakulam district which is about 100 kilometers from Vizag. He is currently a student at Vision-Aid, Vizag, learning the Python Programming basics.
5. Mr G Apala Chari, 25 years old, suffering from total blindness. He has a Bachelors degree in Arts and is currently a student at Vision-Aid learning Computer Training. He hails from Vijyanagaram, about 80 kilometers from Vizag.
6. Mr. S Shyam Sundar, aged about 33 years, is completely blind. He had attained a Bachelors degree in Commerce but could not secure a job for the past 5 years despite his persistent efforts. He is keen in getting coached in competitive and banking examinations and secure a job. He is currently a student at Vision-Aid, undergoing Certificate of Computer Applications training.
7. Ms. A Aishwarya, is a 21 year old blind young woman. She has a Bachelors degree in Arts. She is keen securing bank job.
For more pictures of the inauguration please see the Facebook album.