There was a letter to Director, IIT Kharagpur in this regard from Vivekananda Mission Asram (VMA), Chaitanyapur, Purba Medinipur. A team led by Swami Biswanathananda (Link) and Dr. Subhra Sil visited us at HoD's room, Dept. of Electronics & ECE on 17th July and discussed about development of low vision aid equipment. On 18th July itself, VMA was ready with their invitation for this visit (attached). An announcement in the class of my 3rd year students, a teaser problem, and two students took up the challenge. One of their solution was appreciated by doctors of VMA in this reciprocal visit (not in these pictures due to IP issue).
But VMA is more than an eye hospital. It is one of the two centres in this state catering to / guiding the activities around blind / low vision people in the entire state. It has 10 districts under its fold, the farthest is Kuchbihar. The 16 strong doctor team is led by Dr. Asim Kumar Sil and Dr. Subhra Sil who are with the hospital for last 19 years. There are 175 paramedics. The foot-fall in OPD is 400 per day in average. There are 60 paying bed and 40 free beds. Overall, 60 percent of the patients need to be served free. Interestingly, the rest 40 percent can take care of the recurring cost like salary, consumables etc. The self-sufficient model is evident in others spheres too as will be seen in the pictures. The donation, grant are used for addition of infrastructure, expansion to serve more people. More than the medical support, VMA has to work on the heart and mind of low vision people who are often considered as burden and are abandoned by the society. Vivek Maharaj and other volunteers explained how VMA tries to make them self-sufficient in terms of regular day-living as well as financially. It is a true modern day pilgrimage to visit this place.
We, four faculty members and two students in the team, were sweetly surprised to meet the first President Gold Medal (PGM) winner of IIT Kharagpur, Shri Bhim Chandra Mandal (1951 - 1954, Mechanical) there. He is associated with VMA and accompanied us the full day.
From IITKGP Campus to VMA:
Start of Campus Tour:
The music class (has two videos):
The computer class (has one video):
The play time (has a very touchy video):
The Braille system and the printing machine:
We also had lunch :-)
Being Self-sufficient (blind / low-vision people are trained to make candle, spices, note-book, file, clothes, towels, incense-sticks etc. and all these products are in great demand due to quality that is delivered at a very reasonable price point to win tender by competitions):
Rehabilitation centre (7 different types of road, 3 types of entry to pond, how to board a boat and many other daily-living skills) :
Invoking the spirit (we asked the teachers what makes them reach their superior self to dedicate themselves at the service of the needy):
And the other offering (famous eye hospital , has one video where doctors explain the need):
Farewell (when we were leaving, at about 7:00 PM):
Local media (ETV, Bartamanpatrika and Aajkaal of 03-08-2014):