We4You, a Bhubaneswar-based NGO working for people with disabilities across India has started a project to record audio books to help thousands of visually impaired students.
The team has set up a recording station where they record books for school children right from kindergarten to Class 12. They also record books for college students, post graduate course books, books for competitive exam preparations, etc.
“In Odisha, all visually impaired students do not have access to books because of the shortage of Braille printers. In the absence of any permanent or tangible study material, it is very difficult for such students to enhance their knowledge base or prepare for examinations. That is why we started recording audio books, about four years back. And till now, more than 10,000 students in Odisha, including those in schools and colleges have benefited from these books,” says Abhaya Mohanta, one of the founders of We4You.
Currently, the project is being implemented in all districts of Odisha and some districts of Jharkhand.
They have over 400 volunteers in Odisha and also some in Bengaluru and Delhi who help record the books in Hindi, English and Odiya. These are then stored in USB drives or DVDs and are distributed in schools and colleges for free.
The volunteers are college students, working professionals, homemakers, and more.
Other than producing these audio books, the NGO also conducts vocational training workshops on candle-making, tailoring, art and crafts etc., for visually impaired students from underprivileged backgrounds. These are accompanied by training sessions on spoken English, computers, personality development, etc. to enhance livelihood opportunities.
We4You was founded by a group of college students with the desire to help children from underprivileged backgrounds become independent. The team began with just two friends visiting orphanages to teach children. The founders Abhaya Mohanta, Bhabani Sankar Parida, Rajaram Biswal, and Devi Prasad Panda now have full-time day jobs but they continue to work for We4You as passionately as before. They have a core team of 12 members and a strong volunteer base across the country.
They are now planning to develop a website where the visually impaired students from anywhere in India can directly download the audio books as per their requirements.
“Every child in India who is deprived of education must be helped to bring the best in him/her. Education is the basic right of every child. That is the vision with which we are working on this project. It feels great to see the smiles on the faces of students listening to the audio books. We4You is our passion and we hope our journey will continue,” concludes Abhaya.