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This morning I went to the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy (IICP). The people there do some amazing work in terms of mainstreaming these special children. The organisation was earlier known as the Spastics Society of Eastern India. This was my second visit to the place, and I enjoyed going back there. My meeting with Swati went off really well. We ended up deciding the modus operandi of our programme of field testing and benchmarking of localized FOSS based Accessibility (a11y) software with differently-abled children as our target group.
I must say that IICP probably has one of the spotless kitchens I have had the opportunity to visit. The mid-day meals and snacks for everyone at the place, which includes the students, the special educators as well as all the staff is cooked there. These pictures of the kitchen were taken just after they had finished cooking lunch, and were yet to “clean up”!
The kitchen is managed by the students themselves, some of whom have severe motor disability. Yet they are extremely adept at their tasks, and are quite particular. For example the young man seen in the wheelchair in the picture is in charge of the in-house bakery. At Swati’s request for coffee, he wheelchair-ed across to ask us if we would like to have biscuits along with our coffee. When we said “Yes!”, he asked if we would like the biscuits from the “shop” or “our biscuit”. Swati replied back “Of course ours”. He seemed a little diffident. I wondered why.
It soon became clear when he came over with the tray of coffee and biscuits. Apparently, the cookies had just come off the oven, and hence still quite warm and soft. And he wasn’t too happy to serve us something that wasn’t in his opinion not quite ready to be eaten yet. The biscuits were simply delicious. I think I ate three, leaving just a solitary one for Swati.
On my way out, I met with Raja, who is apparently one of Swati’s favorite students. He has serious speech impairment. As I was about to leave he seemed to greet me. Took me a few seconds to realize that he was wishing me a “Happy New Year!”. He seemed to have remembered me from my last visit. I wished him back as Swati introduced us. And that was perhaps a bit of undoing in itself, as Raja was intensely curious to know what “Open Source” meant. Since I was getting late for another meeting in the afternoon, I left Swati to explain to him the finer nuances of Open Source.
Everytime I meet them, I’m rather struck by their sheer energy, which often seem to be on the point of bubbling over, and sometimes that makes it extremely difficult for me to comprehend them. However, I must remember to ask about the recipe for the cookies the next time.