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Disabled kids tell their tale through lens & text

- Physically challenged children, trained by NGO World Vision, make presentations at three-day session

Jorhat, Aug. 8: Poignant tales of how a teacher scolded a pupil because he could not read what was written on the blackboard and of how a neighbour sniggered at a physically handicapped man who could not ride a motorcycle, were just two among a few presentations made by a group of disabled persons here today. The presentations, complete with photographs and handwritten texts describing each picture stuck on white chart papers, was made on the concluding day of a three-day session on journalism for children conducted by the Jorhat branch of World Vision, an NGO, in collaboration with their communication wings at Chennai and Delhi.

The NGO, which works for the underprivileged, handed 16 disabled persons, mostly children, a powerful tool to tell the tale of their sufferings, how they overcame them and the environment in which they lived.

Ajit Son, resource person from Chennai, said after an earlier such training session the children had made a video on sexual abuse of street children which was later aired on CNN IBN. We try to give them a means to tell stories of exploitation and deprivation through photographs, short films or clips.

Tutu Saikia of Vishnupur, Cinnamara, showed through photographs and a script how one of his feet had been burnt completely, crippling him. He learnt how to walk on all fours with the aid of friends and his brother, went to school, learnt how to stand with the help of two plastic chairs, first somersaulted on a bamboo pole, climbed coconut trees and then, when ridiculed by a neighbour, also learnt how to ride the motorcycle.

“Today, I am married with two children, can paint with a spray gun, head a blood donors’ club of 30 members and be part of a theatre group,” he said.

Sonu Giri, who is partially blind, had dropped out of school when his teacher taunted him. When his parents passed away and he was left alone to fend for himself, he started earning a livelihood by serving puri sabzi and tea in a stall. He helps World Vision procure certificates for the visually challenged from the authorities and dreams of having a family.

Pankaj Kumar, speaking on behalf of his speech and hearing impaired brother Rajkumar, showed the deplorable condition of his village, Ranidhar, — the puddles through which schoolchildren walk to school, classes held in the open — through photographs taken by Rajkumar with the help of the NGO’s resource persons who had accompanied him to his village.

R. Momo, Khartu, in charge of Jorhat branch, said Tutu, Sonu, Rajkumar, Prakas, Gopal, Malobika — all have emotionally stirring lives as well as dreams and the journalism session had taught them how to take good photographs, ask the right questions and show the world that they were as good as anyone. “We cannot be reporters as we are not highly educated but we can show others the way,” Sonu summed up.