06 Sep NAB – A Profound Experience
On August 26th, 2017, My Vote My Voice conducted a special awareness program and voter registration drive at National Association for the Blind (NAB) R. K. Puram, New Delhi, for the visually impaired students. The event was attended by 25 students. Braille handouts of the Power Point presentation were given to the students and a conscious effort was made to deliver our presentation slowly so that the students could relate the printed content with our talk.
After the presentation, we started the process of filling up the voter registration forms, but this time it was different. It was a pleasure to see these students wait patiently for us to approach them and guide them through the process unlike other drives where people are restless and approach us out of the queue. Siya and I approached the students individually, brought them one by one to the registration desk, held their hands for the thumb impression and then walked them to the photo booth. As I helped Shivani, the first student whose form I filled, my hands were shivering with nervous anticipation. Sensing my nervousness, Shivani gently rested her other hand over mine; the feeling of her touch was profound and it stayed with me for some time. The trust and the emotional connect was overwhelming.
I would also like to share another special experience. Towards the end of the drive, Devesh Sharma, a 17 years and 10 months old student started chatting with me. I didn’t realise then, that he was trying to make friends with me so that he could ask me to fill his form. As he was under 18 yrs of age, I told him that he was unfortunately not eligible. His disappointment was palpable but I assured him that I would come again to fill his registration form. He couldn’t believe me, despite my reassurance that I would come again to fill his form. He then made me promise that I would come back, and took my contact number in case he needed to remind me. Seeing Devesh’s enthusiasm and his desire to get his Voter Identity Card immediately on turning 18, not only made me realise the real value of this drive but also drove home the fact that we needed to work further with the differently abled and continue these special initiatives.
Devesh was not the only one under the age of 18, there were 6-7 other students in the age group of 15-17 yrs who attended the presentation. Though they were happy to receive the information but were disappointed that they could not fill the requisite registration forms. I left NAB with a promise, to myself, to come back once every year for all those students who were turning 18 so that no 17 years old student like Devesh feels insecure about not getting his basic citizenship rights. Devesh is so motivated that when I go to him next, I will request him to be a volunteer for MVMV, for all future drives at NAB.
That day at NAB, MVMV found a new purpose and for me it was one of the most profound experiences of my life.