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‘Train’spotting for the visually challenged

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SNEHA KALRA
Published Mar 27, 2017, 10:35 pm IST
Updated Mar 28, 2017, 6:51 am IST
These youngsters are responsible for the first blind friendly railway station in India.
Pancham Cajla and  Shakti Siera
 Pancham Cajla and Shakti Siera

Trying to do their bit for the visually handicapped, two youngsters from the city – Pancham Cajla and Shakti Siera were the ones behind making the Mysuru Railways station the first blind-friendly railway station in the country.

Taking it a step further, they also went on to work on the Majestic Railway Station in Bengaluru to make it easily accessible to the visually disabled. In a tete-a-tete with the duo, we get to know more on their struggles with such heavy responsibilities, and what lies ahead...

 

The cause has been close to Pancham’s heart since he was young. “As a child, I would volunteer as a scribe for the blind in school, and realised that so many of them are gifted in other ways but are only held back because of their disability,” says the techie who worked at Infosys before he gave all his time to making the world a better place for the blind.

“I visited orphanages and made a lot of friends who were visually disabled back in my Infosys days who told me about the facilities that were present for the handicapped abroad, and how there is nothing here to cater to their needs. That’s when I decided to do my bit and help them. When I asked around, they said transport was a hassle,” says Pancham who then went on to form the NGO -  Anuprayas, with Shakti.

“We wanted to create funds for ourselves so we came up with merchandise that had inspirational quotes and sayings on them,” pipes in Shakti about both the railway stations which now have a tactile map, and Braille railings so the visually handicapped can navigate themselves without asking for help.

The process obviously look quite a lot of time, but they never expected it to be such a cakewalk! “We thought we’d have issues with the government regarding the process but the officials gave us all the permissions we needed. And for the railings, we inscribed Braille on the metal with the help of our visually disabled friends. That  was quite a task because if there is one dot missing, it can mean something completely different,” says Shakti who currently works as a mechanical engineer in the city.

“She runs the house,” jokes Pancham. “I’m with the organisation on all days and she joins me on weekends,” he adds about how his wife and himself balance it out.

Furthermore, the couple’s aim is to create awareness about etiquette with the disabled and try and help the disabled in the country be independent. “We have people who volunteer with the organisation but we also have employees who are visually disabled and it makes me the happiest to help in empowering them by providing employment,” says Pancham with a wide smile.

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