'Eyeway, yea hai roshni ka karwan' , Score Foundation's dream project has won the Radio Duniya Award for the year 2008
Prachi and Pragya are twin girls who have been blind from almost birth. Information that the parents Manjula and Jayant Mahajan received when the girls were still crawling helped them chart out a life for their girls in the mainstream. The girls today are studying in Springdales School, New Delhi.
Guneet Sethi was teaching in a school, when she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentoza and lost her eyesight. She had to quit her job and sit at home. About 13 years later, when she heard of screen reading software for the blind, she joined the National Association for the Blind and learnt to work with computers. She has started working now and leads a full life.
Information does change life. But often information is not easily available. It is scattered, outdated, incomplete and very often inaccessible. In fact when I was growing up as a visually impaired person in the 1960s and the 1970s, my parents had a tough time getting relevant information regarding government policies and facilities, education, career possibilities and so on. They did spend a lot of time running from piller to post looking for information.
In the year 2003, Score Foundation launched Project Eyeway (PE), a single stop information resource on the eye and blindness. PE (www.eyeway.org) strives not only to inform, but also to inspire and empower. PE's main objective is to create a comprehensive information single window resource for blind people, their families, rehabilitation/medical professionals, planners and policy makers. As an extension to PE, a magazine called 'Beyond The I' in print, Braille and e-Text was launched in October 2004. This magazine was sent out to over 20,000 people across the country. The magazine was sent out to schools for the blind, prominent blind people, corporate executives, ophthalmologists, rehabilitation professionals, educationists and government officials. The magazine covered burning issues pertaining to the domain, interviews, profiles, news, tips and discussions.
PE on radio
To ensure operational success of PE, a weekly Radio programme called 'Eyeway, yea hai roshni ka karwan' (title of the programme) was launched in November, 2005. The programme aimed to inform, inspire and empower thousands of listeners using an engaging format comprising interviews, discussions of issues, profiles read out in celebrity voices, competitions and plenty of rocking music from Bollywood. In the first year, the programme was launched on the primary channels of All India Radio Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Lucknow, and Ahmedabad. Subsequent to this, from May 2007, the programme was launched on 29 stations of the Vivid Bharti network of All India Radio. The radio programme attracted a lot of attention and started generating phone calls from all over the country. Marium Khan, a middle aged blind woman from Lucknow had spent her entire life more or less sitting at home doing nothing. Her family had provided for her needs in terms of 'Roti Kapada and Makan' (basic needs) . She spent her time with the radio. After hearing 'Eyeway, yea hai roshni ka karwan' for a few months, she picked up the courage of becoming a caller of 'Eyeway , yea hai roshni ka karwan' programme. She was inspired by the interviews with blind personalities (many of whom are now living normal lives) aired on the programme. Currently she is learning Braille and stitching.
The radio initiative of PE is attracting a lot of attention and response. The radio programme is trying to provide solutions to all sorts of visually impaired callers and listeners. Presently, PE, by building channels of information flow, wants its radio programme 'Eyeway, yea hai roshni ka karwan' to reach to every district of the country. To ensure reach of the radio programme vis-a-vis reach of PE, Score Foundation is interacting with community stake holders, NGOs and the Government.
As part of the next phase of PE, a proposal to identify nodal NGO partners in each of the 29 States and 6 Union Territories to become part of the Eyeway network would be floated. There is also a proposal to encourage each of the nodal partners to identify district levels partners. The network will deliver:
- Information in a language and format that is accessible to the local people
- Services that are needed by the blind and visually impaired people locally
- Training programmes will help local communities to become more inclusive.
National help desk
The radio initiative of the PE, fostered the growth of a National Help Desk providing all sorts of assistance to the visually impaired people. The Help Desk, supported by the website i.e. www.eyeway.org and promoted by the radio programme, evolved into a comprehensive platform addressing issues and concerns of the blind. D N Bajaj, currently employed in a hospital in Rohtak, Haryana, was being discriminated against (when it came to his promotion and accommodation) on account of being visually impaired. He called up 'Eyeway, yea hai roshni ka karwan' programme to share his concerns. The help desk immediately provided help by connecting him with the Human Rights Law Network who took up the case and resolved the issue.
The dream of PE is to empower every visually impaired persons and to help them realise and bring out their ability and potential.