Site Visit and Rangapravesha Ceremony Project: Deepa Academy Visit dates: 20th July and 20th August Volunteers: Srikar Tati, AID Penn State I was fortunate to get a chance to visit Deepa Academy during summer of 2012 when I was doing a summer internship in Bangalore. I contacted the principal of Deepa Academy, Dr. Shanta Ram, beforehand regarding the best time to visit the academy. I was told that a working day would be good to visit the school, since I will get a chance to meet teachers and observe part of their daily routine. Accordingly, I planned my visit on a Friday after my work. I reached there around 5PM and spent around 3 hours in the academy. My auto-rickshaw driver was able to easily locate the place with the help of directions given by Dr. Shanta Ram. I got a chance to meet the summer interns of Deepa Academy, Shruti and Jayasi, who are two B.Tech students from IIIT, Delhi. Their task was to help girls with basic computer skills for two weeks, and they were mentored by Mr. Murali. He is an IBM employee who was connected with Deepa Academy for about five years now. Shruti and Jayasi shared their experience with me, and they were very grateful to get this chance and completely thrilled about how the past two weeks passed by. They were completely blown away with the love and affection shown by the girls in that short period of time, and it was evident from the beautiful gifts (Picture 1) that they got from them. They compiled thier experiences in this blog: http://lifeblindfolded.blogspot.com/ 2012_07_01_archive.html. I was very impressed with the passion and commitment of Mr.Murali, despite his full-time job and family responsibilities. Dr. Shanta Ram and co. planned a 2-day picnic when interns were there (Picture 2).
Picture 1: Gifts from girls to Interns Picture 2: Deepa Academy picnic
It was an enriching experience for me to interact with an esteemed person like Dr. Shanta Ram (MA, English Literature). Inspite of his visual disability, he scaled many heights in life and leading a noble life through helping other visually challenged children. It was great to see some of the girls speak very good english, and I was told this was all because Dr. Shanta Ramâ€™s efforts. He is very passionate about the academy and the work they are doing with the girls there. He wants to increase the strength of the academy, but they need a bigger building to accommodate more people. I had a chance to meet few students during my visit. 8th and 9th grade students who just joined the academy were very shy to talk, but girls who are in 12th grade and just joined their bachelors degrees were very keen to interact and know more about what I do, where I live etc. Also, I was very happy to see that they were ambitious and very positive about their careers. Both Dr. Shanta Ram and Mr. Murali mentioned that it is very satisfying to witness this transformation in the students, and this gives them the drive and the energy. I wish that Deepa Academy would keep up the good work and transform many more young visually challenged people. I also had a chance to attend the Bharatnatya Rangapravesh event of six students: Gulabsha, Lathamani, Pallavi, Rashmi, Soumya and Suma. They were trained under supervision of Dr. Suparna Venkatesh of Articulate Ability, an organisation that supports differently abled dancers. This event was a big success, and almost 250 people attended it. Girls delivered an excellent performance, and personally I was thrilled to see their skills and perfect synchronization between them. Here I want to stress on more important aspect of Deepa Academy, i.e., in addition to studies, they train them in various kind of extra curricular activities. In the next page, I attached some of the pictures from the Rangapravesha event.