CSR 2022 @ SINGAPORE ASSOCIATION OF VISUALLY HANDICAPPED
Insight from Trip to SAVH
Captain Soumya Bhattachayya / MOLSHIP(S) – SOQAD
The CSR@SAVH activity handed me a unique opportunity to meet, interact with some visually-challenged people (and may be – try to understand them). It was enlightening to know how visually challenged people access education, vocational training, and recreational opportunities in their journey towards integration with the larger society. It was nice to know they not only participate but thrive in almost every imaginable vocational field. However, their biggest challenge remains overcoming the perception of blindness held by us, the sighted community.
Halfway through the trip, after a hearty meal, I was in a narrow winding stairwell, and couldn’t see a thing, eyes ‘masked’. The stairs were steep, with turnarounds. Didn’t know how many were there – sometimes two, at times six steps to a landing, their shapes, their width - there’s no way to fathom. My sense of touch and hearing was not supporting my needs (was I getting any echo from the stairwell – nah, couldn’t make out), so I couldn’t rely on them for direction. I was reminded of the biggest blessing in life – TRUST, enabling me to put my deepest feelings and fears in the hand of my partner, knowing that I would be handled with care.
Before that however, upon reaching the campus, we took a plunge into a fascinating world of unparalleled culinary experience shrouded in excitement, mystery and sensation we never experienced before (after suitable briefing). Specially trained personnel served us lunch in total darkness, with all sources of light eliminated, including mobile phones, but without any blindfold. It was a never-before experience of an epicurean activity whereby non-visual senses were stretched. Food was a symphony of flavours, which roused my senses of touch, smell and taste. Textures and subtle aromas, I never knew existed, drew my attention. I regretted judging food primarily with eyes all this time, rather than with my palate.
Knowing and practicing Braille and the little time we spent wearing the spectacles which showed us the various types of blindness was literally an ‘eye-opener’. We learnt about the different types of canes and their use. I took heart from the library and the products on offer showcasing the creativity of the SAVH personnel. I was impressed with the inclusive training and teamwork on display by SAVH members and volunteers.
The contagious enthusiasm and lively-spirit that the volunteers showed us and the childish-exuberance regarding the mascots from the two visually challenged escorts we had, made me wish to delete “I give up” from my vocabulary. I emerged less afraid of blindness than I was before, realising blindness just changes how we do things, but doesn’t stop us from doing them.
It was only a couple of hours we spent at SAVH and there are two things I know for sure: I will never again think of people with visual impairment as helpless, powerless victims of their disability and never again take any of my senses for granted.
Visit to the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped
Saras Tewari / MOLSHIP(S) – SMD
We at MOLSHIP(S) had the privilege of visiting the SAVH (Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped) recently.
This visit was one of our many CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) events .
We participated in it with no specific, significant expectation.
It was supposed it to be another one of those ‘good’ CSR events.
One of many, in a manner of speaking!
But, oh boy were we in for a surprise!
It turned out to be a pleasantly surprising and morally uplifting adventure!
Which is quite significant considering that many of my colleagues and I have almost 30 years of work experience in our books.
We have been there and done that!
We arrived at the SAVH to a simple, austere welcome.
The SAVH appeared to us like a Military Base!
Simple, well-appointed, and efficiently functional!
We were ushered into a completely ‘dark’ room after a small briefing.
We were to be served our Lunch in complete darkness!
We were met with a visually handicapped Young woman and Young man.
The two of them guided us to out Tables and served our meals.
It was an enjoyable hour spent with some excellent food and a lot of easy camaraderie.
Mr Mogam and Ms Nurul – Our Guides and Servers supported us comfortably and cheerfully.
Afterall, they were in their elements in the dark!
They reached us effortlessly and unerringly.
Different categories (Thai, Japanese, Vegetarian ) of pre-selected meals were provided to us without any mistakes.
Mr Mogam could easily navigate amongst us with the Food Trays with merely our voices guiding him.
Post Meal, we participated in some tactile games.
All this made us realise the limitations that the visually handicapped persons struggle with Day in and day out!
After emerging from the dark, we were guided through some activities and Lecture sessions.
All those being designed for us to understand the situation of a Visually challenged person and the correct ways to support them.
SAVH Volunteer giving us a feel of various types of Visual handicaps
Mr Mogam and I
Post lunch Training by the SAVH Staff
The easy and cheerful demeanour of our hosts Mr Mogam and Ms Nurul was a powerful lesson on how to handle life.
With good cheer, acceptance and equanimity.
We could not detect even a trace of bitterness or frustration in both of them towards us or towards life in general.
We all face rough weather on professional and personal fronts as we navigate through life.
Mr Mogam taught me a primer on how to do it with grace, humility and good cheer.
To quote the good Bible ( King James Bible )
Galatians 6:5 - For every man shall bear his own burden.
Luke 14:27 - For every man shall bear his own burden.
CSR activity, MOL SHIP Management (Singapore) Pte. Ltd
DINING IN THE DARK
(A poem tribute)
Ashish Bagchi ( Ship Management Department) , 22nd July 2022
@ Singapore Association of Visually Handicapped
As we opened our eyes in the dark to see a different world,
As time passed and food was served, we knew not what unfurled!
In pitch black darkness, flawless maneuvers, the sightless server served,
Starter, main course, dessert, and drinks, while he himself starved.
We knew not what’s on our plates, touching ..if the glass was full or slack,
We got a taste of what it takes when the world is coloured BLACK!
We braced and strained, played blind games, just few hours of role-play,
Got shivers to even imagine, spending our life’s every day this way!
As we wrapped up the day, with Touch Art gifts, not the end of our CSR mission,
It dawned that day, we were all blind with a sight and did not see with vision.
Let’s learn to lend a helping hand to these humans with the cane,
Let’s learn to include, share, and care and not let their cheer wane!
Let’s learn to lend a helping hand and wipe away their sorrow,
Let’s help the blind to cross the road of life, let’s make a better tomorrow!