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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Feted Trust Bats for Blind Cricket - BANGALURU

One of the proudest achievements of Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled, just honoured with the National Award for Child Welfare, is its role in promoting cricket for the blind.

Samarthanam founder and managing trustee Mahantesh G Kivadasannavar flew to Delhi to receive the award

Founder and managing trustee Mahantesh G Kivadasannavar recalls how his, and Samarthanam's, journey began with cricket.
At six months, Mahantesh came down with typhoid and lost his vision. He loved cricket, and while he and his friend S P Nagesh were playing for the state team in the 1990s, they often met fellow young adults with visual impairment who had been unable to study beyond Class 10.

"Back then, there were quite a few schools for the blind, but hardly any opportunities for higher education. So, along with cricket, which made us aware of the problems that youngsters faced, creating higher education opportunities was one of our primary goals when we started off in February '97," Mahantesh tells us from Delhi, where the trust was conferred the award.

"We had to start from scratch. We had no buildings or infrastructure," he says when asked about challenges, but he prefers not to dwell on them. So Samarthanam helped raise funds for the education of the physically challenged, and spoke to hostels and colleges to get them admission.

Now, Samarthanam has a presence in four other states — Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Jharkhand — and in the US, it runs a hostel. In Bengaluru, it runs a residential school for children with special needs. One of its students, 12-year-old L Anjiniah, has won the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement for 2013.

Samarthanam has received several accolades earlier, 'But getting a national award is something else' entirely.

"It feels great that the government has recognised our contributions. This can only strengthen our conviction," Mahantesh adds. All in all, he estimates, the trust has brightened the lives of 30,000-40,000 people. Now, he has a 2020 vision. "By that year, we want to touch at least one lakh lives," he says, adding that though the trust aims to help the disabled study and find jobs, its ultimate mission is to empower each of them. "We want all of them to become tax payers and lead dignified lives. The idea is to bring them more into the mainstream," he says.

Varied jobs opportunities have opened up for the physically challenged over the past few years, according the Mahantesh.

"There's been a shift in thinking, so it's no longer only music teacher or telephone operator posts open to the disabled. We have HR managers who have graduated from IIM-B, people in the IT-BT sector and banks. Companies are becoming more disabled-friendly, so almost any back-end job is open to us as well," he adds. But he and the rest of Cricket Association for the Blind (CABI), Samarthanam's sports wing, would appreciate more support from the BCCI.

"Now, for the Blind Cricket World Cup, the central government is partially supporting us, but we need more funds. There is some corporate support, but a little more would be great," he adds.

However, he is confident that the Indian blind team will return victorious and do the country proud. The team is to leave for South Africa on November 25.
Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled, #11, Villa Suchita, 1st Cross, JP Nagar II Phase.

Phone: 080- 25721444.


Source : The New Indian Express , 18th Nov 2014

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