The Deafblind Run - A Run for the Human Spirit

Running for a cause has never been this exciting. Tattva- a voluntary action group, pledged to run 400 kms to raise awareness on deafblindness in the state of Gujarat. The group is committed to a vision of making a difference within local communities. It was the brainchild of a group of friends who have come together to work on creating an impactful difference especially within marginalized groups and communities in the community. They partnered with Sense International India to raise awareness on deafblindness and funds for the cause through the ultra-run of about 400 kms.

How long is 400 kilometers?

To really picture how long 400 kms is, imagine doing 4000 laps of an Olympic sized swimming pool or running 1000 laps of a 400 meter race ground. That’s how long it is! Preparing for this mammoth of an ultra-run were Amit Bhattacharjee a.k.a. Dada, Raja Marut a.k.a. Barefoot Raja, Ashish Singh, Urvashi Patel, Dr Pratish Sharda and Samneet Thakur. They practiced for months to build their stamina and strength so in times when their body fails them, they needed the Will to go on. They approached Sense International India in order to feed their Will. In order to complete 400 kms in a span of 4 days they needed an emotional connect- a cause to push them further.

The Emotional Connect

The members visited Sense India’s office in order to know more about deafblindness. After being addressed by Mr. Akhil Paul, Executive Director, Sense International India, one could see a tear or two rolling down people’s cheeks. They heard the stories of children with deafblindness being found tied to objects to avoid them from getting hurt and the struggle to create awareness in their families about this unique disability- Deafblindness. They understood what a complex disability deafblindness is and resolved to raise awareness about it.

After having an inspiring session, they understood why the education of children with deafblindness is important. They caught on early to the fact that education for such children is very individualized and needs a lot of support in terms of mobility aids, teaching learning materials etc. So they made it their mission to not only raise awareness on Deafblindness, but also to raise funds to give 40 children with deafblindness a needs based education.

To go much deeper into the selection of the date and the distance, we need to know a bit of history as well. The run would complete on the 26th of January, which is a national holiday know as Republic Day- the day India’s constitution came into effect. The distance of about 400 kms was the same as the civil disobedience movement called the Dandi March led by Mahatma Gandhi to break the British imposed Salt Tax.

On the 22nd of January, 2021 the runners flagged off from Ahmedabad at 8 pm. While they were getting ready, they met Shrutilata Singh, Advocacy Officer at Sense International India who is also a person with deafblindness. They communicated with her and she filled them up with inspiration. So, with every step they took from that moment on while they were losing strength they were gaining the will to go on.

With injuries, difficult temperatures and dangerous roads the team ran the distance of 400 kms with the help of amazing volunteers who paced them, fed them and motivated them throughout their cause. Along with them, Gujarat Police supported and protected them throughout their run. They raised awareness wherever they went and people welcomed their efforts with open arms. They completed their run.

Sense India thanks the runners, volunteers and Gujarat Police who helped raise awareness around deafblindness. They ran a long distance to create awareness on this unique disability and made a difference in the lives of children with deafblindness all over India.

Author - Sonia Gervasis
Communication-Officer, Sense International India

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