The COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to live their lives from
within their homes. As every Helen Keller week that Sense International India
has celebrated in the past, this one was bound to be different. There was no
parade of cycles going around the city. To keep the spirits of people high and
still celebrate Helen Keller Day Sense India launched a virtual Messengers on
Cycle Challenge. Our tradition of holding a cyclothon on the special day was
shifted online where people registered for the event and sent videos of their
creative ways of cycling from home.
The virtual MOC challenge was from 20th of June
to 4th of July, 2020. A total of 91 challengers and 25 innovative cycling
submissions made Helen Keller Day special.
The COVID-19 lockdown impacted the livelihoods of many people.
The Periodic Labour Force Survey projected 140 million informal workers who are
at risk of losing their livelihoods due to the lockdown and the halt in economic
activities. They are at risk of sinking deeper into poverty if the situation
persists. Sunfeast India Run as One was a nationwide campaign to help people
sustain their livelihoods. It partnered with Give India and Procam.
An integral component of our work is to provide
vocational training and seed capital to adults with deafblindness to start small
business and become micro-entrepreneurs to support their families. Over 130
deafblind adults have been supported to become micro-entrepreneurs and they have
started businesses such as – Ration shop, Electric Works, Small Scale Poultry
Farm, Bike and Cycle Repairing Shops, Book Shops, Cattle Rearing, Paper Plates,
Bowls and Bag Making, Ironing shop, Canteen and Tiffin Service, Clothes Business
etc. The lockdown and the pandemic has posed extreme difficulty and challenges
for them as their customer turnover has been affected. Adults with deafblindness
who use tactile sign language for communication have faced exclusion as people
fear to touch them for communication. Sense International India selected 5 at
risk adults with deafblindness whose vocations/trades have been affected. We
will support them for reviving/expanding their current business. The project
will serve as a lifeline for adults with deafblindness and their family members
to withstand the negative impact of the COVID 19 pandemic.
The states of Tripura, Meghalaya and Assam had their first online State Advocacy Meeting. The meeting was done in the presence of officials from State Disability Directorate, Social Welfare Department, NCSCDA, CRC, DDRC and SMSA were present to interact with the participants. The meetings aimed to converge with the initiatives of relevant state government departments, skill development agencies, and civil society organizations for inclusion of persons with deafblindness.
Parents, special educators and persons with deafblindness interacted with government officials on a common platform to find solution for the rehabilitation needs of persons with deaf blindness. Every state had different concerns, but there were some common issues that crossed state borders. Issues of UDID, proper certification, expert doctors, disability pension and parents’ biggest concern of life after them.