Monthly Archives: October 2009

Let there be light and a noise-free diwali

Diwali is the festival of lights and celebrations not of noise. But for animals this could seem like a terrorist attack. Noisy fireworks are frightening to animals as their hearing is far more sensitive than that of humans. Lighting clay lamps are not only beautiful but will also spread the Diwali cheer.
Before buying firecrackers, make sure that you buy them from authorised stores. Check the box for declaration of no involvement of child labour. The government does not allow bursting crackers between 10 pm and 6 am. If you must burst crackers, stay away from silent zones. This year the police will levy a steep fine of Rs. 1 lakh and imprisonment of 5 years under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

Have a happy, prosperous and safe Diwali.

Leave a comment

Filed under India

Why Should You Vote?

  • Casting a vote allows an individual to express a choice among candidates who wish to become government leaders.
  • Failing to register a vote is tantamount to saying you don’t care.
  • If you don’t vote, you are missing out on a great national privilege and a significant personal freedom
  • Voting provides a medium for citizens to support the democratic structure. If a majority of citizens choose not to vote, democracy might become a thing of the past and will be replaced by another form of government that might prove more elitist in nature.
  • Registering to vote means that you believe in the democratic process and will participate in it to represent your right to freedom of speech.
  • Showing that you care with your vote tells candidates that they must be accountable to the public.
  • Showing up at the polling booth on voting day sets a good example to others. Remember, your children observe all that you do and will learn from your example, right or wrong as it may be. Civic awareness is an important part of their training and one of the early steps on the road to maturity. Voting also sets a positive example to neighbours, friends, and family who may be uninterested in or unfamiliar with the electoral system.

If you don’t vote you really have no right to complain about government decisions you don’t like.

Leave a comment

Filed under International, Politics

Sight for the Sightless

Tucked away in a bylane near the archaeological site Gilbert Hill at Andheri West is Andhakkshi Ashram. For the people here, their condition is not a deterrent. However they may be, they still strive to live their lives like anyone else would do.As you enter Andhakkshi Ashram, you are greeted with smiles of children and women. Andhakkshi Ashram is a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) that provides shelter to abandoned women and children.Fatima Vengurlekar, the 56-year old dedicated director gave up a career as an airhostess for Air India to pursue her inner calling – service to people. Prior to Andhakkshi Ashram, she served as a volunteer in many organisations. “Whatever you may do in life, nothing gives you more fulfilment than serving people,” says Vengurlekar.

Andhakkshi Ashram was started 1937 as a rehabilitation centre for women with schizophrenia. However, today the organisation provides shelter to destitute, blind, mentally challenged and HIV + women and children. The organisation is run by the trust The Association for the Relief and Education for the Street and Needy Blind Indian Female. “Andhakkshi that means sight for the sightless, currently houses about 40 women and children,” says Vengurlekar.

Most of the inmates at Andhakkshi Ashram are mentally challenged and have been abandoned by their families. An example is Prabha who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and was abandoned by her family. After Prabha took to the streets, she was picked up a social worker and taken to Andhakkshi Ashram in 2002 where she was rehabilitated. Prabha is employed as a cook and that is her source of income. “Even though I am still on medication, my family respects me now because I give money at home and I am productive,” says Prabha.

Most of the women and children, says Vengurlekar, come from well to do families. Because of their mental illness, their families consider them as a liability and are ashamed to care for them. The criterion for admitting women and children into this home is that they have to be either blind, mentally challenged or HIV+. “The organisation provides many facilities that help inmates to get educated and gain skills for life that will help them earn a decent living thus making them independent,” says Vengurlekar. Anshakkshi Ashram gives these children an opportunity to live there, attend special schools and have other requirements met.

Four months back, the organisation has started Andhakkshi School that provides functional therapy for fine motor coordination. They also offer Speech Therapy for the speech and hearing impaired and Occupational Therapy to maximise the skills and ability of the differently-abled. A recent addition to the facilities is Chromotherapy (also known as colour therapy) that uses colour and light to balance energy wherever a persons body is lacking whether physical, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. “Through this physically, they feel better as their pains/aches are reduced and their immunity levels increase. Mentally and emotionally they feel secure, safe and strong. Their anger and irritability is reduced,” says Vengurlekar.

Andhakshi is dedicated to the mental and spiritual health of women and children using medication as well as alternative therapies. To widen their horizons and to reach out to more people, there is a Sacred space in Andhakshi which gives mental, emotional and spiritual guidance to people. This sacred space offers sessions and classes of alternative therapies, stress management courses, group and individual counselling and so on.

Leave a comment

Filed under Health, India