The Blind Boys’ Academy is a part of the Ramakrishna Mission Ashram located in Narendrapur, West Bengal. A residential blind boys’ academy, it offers general education as well as computer operations training, music, medical transcription, agriculture and other vocational training to all visually challenged young people. Since 2002, the Award Programme has been successfully transforming the lives of young people in the Academy. Award Leader-Chandan Mazumdar inspires us by sharing the exploits of 21 young Award participants at the expedition to Susunia Hills.
A team from R. K. Mission Blind Boys' Academy, Narendrapur went to Susunia Hills in Bankura District consisting 21 blind students and 2 Award leaders to complete the adventurous journey requirement of the Gold, Silver and Bronze levels respectively. Special Projects partner the Institute of Climbers and Nature Lovers organized the expedition from 17th to 20th November, 2010. The expedition allowed the 21 visually challenged young people to participate in Climbing, Trekking, Rappelling, Single Rope Crossing, Monkey Crawling, Tent Pitching, Visiting surroundings villages, cultural programmes during Camp Fire and other activities.
The expert trainers Amitava Ganguly, Anal Chatterjee, Somnath Saha, Asim Nath, Partha Sengupta rendered their full effort to make the expedition comfortable yet challenging for the young Awardees. Single rope crossing and Rappelling actually allowed our Awardees to believe in themselves, learn teamwork and actually see a new light of the life. The expedition allowed them to feel a sense of togetherness with their peers and leaders, learn leadership, punctuality and physical hardship, open up and enjoy conversation about flora, fauna of the surrounding area. As residential blind students, it gave them a rare opportunity to know the world outside, meet a lot of different people and accept that being different is okay.
Out of 21 Awardees, 14 are currently pursuing the Bronze level, 6 of them the Silver level and only one participating in the Gold level. It is heartwarming to see the improvement in Shri Arjun Saha, Pankaj Sinha, Mritunjoy Purkait, Subhadeep Patra, Bamandipta Pal, Suraj Jha, Gouranga Dass, Omprakash Das, Somnath Hazra, Gouranga Biswas, Kartick Adhikary, Md. Azaharuddin Gazi, Sabirul Islam, Jasimuddin Seikh, Shri Bijoy Purkait, Sibnath Mondal, Sourav Pan, Bablu Halder, Kaushik Mondal, Subrata Pandit and Simarul Halsona as young leaders since their participation in the Award Programme.
Since the introduction of IAYP in 2002 at the Academy, all boys have engaged in the Award Programme and consider the entire experience ‘priceless’. It is not the certificate that is precious, but the learning from participating actively in the four sections that opens the horizons of the mind and allows them to believe that ‘impossible is nothing’. It is this sense of discipline and confidence acquired from learning to play the Sitar, learning to Swim, overcoming the challenge of sight by learning through touch, smell and hearing; giving back to society through simple community service projects that makes them young leaders.
More about the Ramakrishna Mission:
Started in 1943, this Ashram houses a residential degree college offering graduate and postgraduate courses in arts and science, a residential higher secondary school where medium of instruction is in English and Bengali, a department of technical and vocational education and a Lokasiksha Parishad (an institute for social welfare and integrated rural development) in addition to the Blind Boys’ Academy.
Dedicated to the ideal of man-making and character building education as propounded by Swami Vivekananda, the Ashram lays much emphasis on values both moral and spiritual and on learning outside of classrooms through active engagement in sports, environment and social service.