Bengaluru, 23rd September 2020 : In extreme times like now, dealing in kind has its limits but kindness doesn’t. Recognizing that cash in hand is any day, and especially so in the current position, better than providing people with things that may have or many not want, the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled, a pan India non-profit organization founded in 1997, with a vision to empower the visually impaired, disabled and marginalized people in India, has come up with a plan to help blind cricketers in India.
Almost 600 cricketers from across India, that includes men and women, will benefit to the tune of approximately Rs 35 lakh thanks to the largesse of Give India with whom Samarthanam has tied up to provide the cricketers associated with the Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI). Players of the 24 State teams that took part in the second season of the All India Nagesh Trophy Men’s National Cricket Tournament for the Blind as also players from the seven states that took part in the inaugural Women’s National Cricket Tournament for the Blind will each receive Rs 7,000 (for those in Tier 1 cities), Rs 5000 (for Tier 2 cities) and Rs 4,000 (for tier 3 cities).
Take the case of Venugopal Mani, the 32-year-old Blind Cricketer from Badiyadka in Kasaragod district in Kerala, who used to sell lottery tickets when he wasn’t playing cricket. He used to make Rs. 400-500 per day by selling lottery tickets said Venugopal who has been playing for the Kerala blind team from 2013. But this pandemic has put a hold to the South Africa Blind Cricket’s team tour of India earlier in March, took its toll away from the field too. He has to support his wife who is also a blind, a two-year-old son and his aging mother but this pandemic has confined indoors, and he had to borrow loans.
Naturally this cash infusion from CABI and Samarthanam has left him relieved, at least for some time. “This help has come just at the right time for and I am most grateful to both the Cricket Association for the Blind in Kerala (CABK) and CABI as also to Samarthanam. I hope to get back to playing cricket and earn my livelihood soon,” said Venugopal.
Similar is the case with Sukhram Majhi, another blind cricketer who has represented India. Hailing from Koraput district in Odisha state, he doesn’t have a job and is currently pursuing his studies as a MA student. They are a family of three and have lost his father. His mother, who is also partially blind a daily wage labourer and the only earning member of the family. His mother’s elder sister is mentally challenged and stays together with them.
“Due to the lockdown, my mother lost her job had to depend on the disability pension and they were running out of basic essentials at home and were unable to pay the house rent. I was so grateful when I received financial help from Give India through Samarthanam. The cash assistance couldn’t have been timed better otherwise we would have been in trouble” says Sukhram Majhi.
Shilpa’s story is no different. Having represented Karnataka in the inaugural Women’s National Cricket Tournament for the Blind back in December 2019, the Davangere girl said the lockdown and its consequences had made life very difficult for her and her family.
“My father couldn’t go out to work and so we depended on the free ration provided by the government for BPL card holders. Just as we were getting desperate we received cash from CABI. It came as a great relief and I do hope more people like me will get similar timely support” says Shilpa.
Soon after the lockdown was announced, the Samarthanam Trust started identifying disabled people in dire need of support and chalked out an action plan to implement the relief work. As many as 14 cities are being covered under the relief work, 3.5 lakh meals were cooked and supplied while dry ration kits are being given to 16,000 people with focus on persons with disabilities. Medical equipment such as 32,000 PPE kits and other aids such as pulse oximeters, ICU beds, masks and sanitizers were provided to 12 government hospitals. In addition, about one lakh frontline workers (ASHA workers, Sanitation workers, Anganwadi workers, Police personnel) were supported with masks, sanitizers, medical gear and even sarees (uniforms).
Meantime some of the state associations like Kerala and Delhi announced some cash relief for their players.
“The need of the hour is cash so that each individual can decide for himself or herself what their immediate needs are and use the money accordingly” said Mahantesh GK, the Founder Managing Trustee of Samarthanam and the President of CABI.
“We wish we could do more but for that blind cricket needs more support from the Union Sports Ministry as also the BCCI. Our cricketers have won four World Cups (two ODI World Cups and two T20 World Cups) and have brought great laurels to the nation. We also conduct our national tournaments and have bilateral cricket series regularly every year thanks to some support from the corporate world but much more needs to be done,” added Mahantesh.
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