Adventure in Braille

The Rotary Club of ­Bangalore Lakeworld, along with eight Rotary clubs of RIDs 3191 and 3192, organised a car rally for the blind in May. The event had 30 cars, and was flagged off by DG Srinivas Murthy and PDG Fazal Mahmood at the Vega Mall in ­Bengaluru. The 40-km rally finished at the Gold Coins Club and Resort, Electronic City.

Zubaieda Jamal (3rd from L), president, RC Bangalore Lakeworld, Srikarunya Subrahmanyam Rajan, president-elect of the club, RID 3192 DEI director Abha Saxena, RID 3191 DEI director Varalakshmi Balaji (R) and Rotarians of RIDs 3191 and 3192 at the flag-off point of the car rally.

Each car had a blind person as navigator who received a list of directions in Braille during the flag-off. They had to guide the sighted drivers through the route assigned, ensuring they followed a specified time, speed and distance to each checkpoint. Trust, communication and coordination were the key factors. “We vibed beautifully and exchanged meaningful conversation during our drive,” says Zubaieda Jamal, president of RC Bangalore Lakeworld. She was one of the drivers and was navigated by ­Lingaraj, an international ­Bharatanatyam dancer, who has performed in the US, ­Singapore and UAE.

Thanks to her navigator, Zubaieda won the second place in the women’s category. “The win was not that easy. But more than the accomplishment, I still cherish the camaraderie that we shared. We got lost multiple times and I couldn’t even read the route as it was all in Braille. I had to completely trust my partner throughout the drive and it was a memorable experience,” she says.

We got lost multiple times and I couldn’t even read the route as it was all in Braille. I had to completely trust my partner throughout the drive and it was a memorable experience.
Zubaieda Jamal, president, RC Bangalore Lakeworld

This is the 14th year of the event which was conceived and executed by club member Srikarunya ­Subrahmanyam Rajan through his organisation People for People. “This is the first year we took the lead and intend continuing it,” says Zubaieda. The primary objective is to raise awareness and sensitivity for the visually-challenged, and help build a more inclusive society. For the 30 blind navigators who participated in the rally, “the feeling of ‘being included’ was the most predominant. They do not expect any special treatment; instead they want to be recognised for their skills and be part of the mainstream.”

Throughout the rally, the teams encountered various tasks designed to test their navigation abilities, problem-solving skills and overall coordination. Marshalls on vintage bikes clocked the time at each checkpoint. “All the navigators were proactive despite their handicap. The event highlighted their incredible potential when given the right opportunity and support. We were inspired by people like Malini, a navigator from Mysuru, for whom this was the 16th rally. She teaches music online for international students,” says the club president.

The participants were students of Bengaluru-based NGOs Mitra Jyoti, IDL and Vividha, and they were charged ₹2,000 each as entry fee, a part of which will go to fund this Rotary clubs’ community projects. Dayanand, managing director of the Gold Coins Resort, presented cash prizes to the winners.


DEI Awards

RID 3192 IPDG ­Srinivas Murthy and DG N S Mahadeva Prasad presenting the DEI Catalyst Award to Deepa Narasimhan, a diversity & inclusion activist. District DEI director (2023–24) Abha Saxena (L) and PDG Jeetendra Aneja (R) are also seen.

In 2023–24, RID 3192, bifurcated from RID 3190, introduced the Rotary DEI Awards “to celebrate organisations and individuals for their groundbreaking initiatives to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, and provide them a platform to share their best practices to inspire others,” says Abha Saxena, District DEI director (23–24). Submissions were invited from three types of organisations — public service organisations such as NGOs, education institutions and hospitals; corporates and Rotary clubs. “We looked for initiatives that had broken new ground, created social impact and encouraged participation of women, disabled persons and the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace and their local communities.”

The winners included ­corporates such as Wipro, Zomato and ­rProcess; public service institutions such as ­NIMHANS, Biocon ­Academy, All Inclusive Foundation and ­Sarthak Trust. Under the Rotary category, RCs ­Bangalore, Bangalore ­Northwest, ­Bangalore Bhuvaneshwari nagar, ­Chennai Bharathi and E-Club ­Chennai Shakthi won the inaugural DEI Awards.


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