In this together
Every weekend, a city-based non-profit will host an online house party for the differently abled, to help them cope with social distancing
There are a lot of memes and jokes being circulated about the virus but how do the disabled enjoy them?" asks Nidhi Goyal. The founder and director of the city-based non-profit Rising Flame that works for the recognition, protection and promotion of human rights of people with disabilities, particularly women and the youth, explains that these unprecedented times are especially tough on the disabled; they don't get the same respite as the non-disabled.
Explaining the gravity of the situation, Goyal says, "Now, we are told to be careful about touching things. I live with blindness and tactility is integral to my life. How do we navigate this scenario? At the same time, many people from our community need caregivers. What will happen if they don't come? Also, staying indoors triggers a lot of memories, which is a traumatic experience." This led to the conceptualisation of Vella Panti, an online house party for persons with disabilities.
The sign language interpreter during the first Vella Panti session last Saturday
Hosted by Rising Flame on the Zoom app every Saturday this month, the series includes a film screening, and a poetry and shayari session, with the subject of the final session on April 25 being decided collectively later. Having received an enthusiastic response from the community, the event began this Saturday, with a reading of an anthology of love stories titled Eleven Ways to Love. The inaugural session featured Goyal and Nadika Nadja, who have written stories for it, in discussion. It ended on a successful note with over 60 people joining in from all over the world, which Goyal says reinforced the need to move forward with the idea. "Not everything online is accessible but the experience at Vella Panti is the same one would have at a physical event. Not only did we have a sign language interpreter on board but in order to keep pace with the reading speed and complex words, we had live transcription, too," she informs.
There is no limit on the number of virtual attendees. And realising that people cannot always RSVP in advance, the links to join each session have been made public to facilitate quicker access. Friends and family are welcome to join in, too — an arrangement, Goyal quips, is usually the reverse. Post the lockdown, the founder states that it is difficult to let the initiative continue in its current avatar. But she reiterates that the web is an important medium to stay connected. The goal, as always, remains to lift the spirit of the community, "to be grateful for small things and lift the
On Every Saturday until April 25, 3.30 pm to 5 pm
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