The lovely 2020 calendar carries drawings of trees, flowers, hands, butterflies and even ice cream. The pages of the calendar have been created by the students of the Govt High School for the Blind, Olassa, Kottayam. The works are mostly abstract in nature. Each painting has the name of the artist who dreamed the visual in their inner eye.
Be it the font or the layout, each page is unique, just like the artists. Some pages even carry quotes in tune with the image. For instance, the November page has colourful hands painted by Anilamol accompanied by the quote: âLetâs hold hands to help pull someone up. Letâs hold our hands and paint the world in the shades of green, for itâs long gone. Letâs help fill the voids together.â
The 2020 tabletop calendar is an initiative by visually impaired students â blind students as well as those with partial sight â as part of the Make A Wish campaign to raise funds for the development of their school and their education. They have been participating in social activities for some time through the campaign, which works towards the welfare of the school and its students.
In 2016, they painted Christmas and New Year cards to raise funds. A part of the funds collected was used to build a home for their classmate Lakshmipriya. With the remaining money, they provided lunch to an orphanage in Alappuzha. âThat was their first painting activity,â says Ananthu Vasudev, coordinator of the Make A Wish campaign. He has been associated with the institution for a long time. âWe had come up with the calendar idea last year. However, we could not do it as the artist was unavailable at that time,â he adds.
So this time they brought in different artists to do each page according to their style. Prem Krishna, Anish Ravi, Athif, Rithika Mariam, Indulekha, Ajesh PT, Aravind, Angela Issac, Amala Elizabeth and Bharath Krishnan designed each page using the childrenâs works. Volunteers of Make A Wish collected paintings that students had done over the years to make the calendar.
âSome of the paintings, like the one done by the student Mary, had a lot of enquiries back then. We had prints of such works. Along with that, we added paintings by other students to come up with the calendar that is sold at Rs 550, which includes printing and shipping costs,â says Ananthu.
The students had a painting session during Onam 2019. The outcome of that session too is included in the calendar, which was launched in December 2019. Orders have started to pour in from different parts of the country and outside. âWe have already received 150 orders,â Ananthu adds. Proceeds from the sale, after deducting the printing charges, would go to the PTA committee for the welfare of the students.
According to Ananthu, the painting sessions have improved the studentsâ well-being. âParents and teachers acknowledge this,â he says, adding, âThe session was started to stir the creative side of the students and thus improve their mental health. The idea was to keep them engaged in activities. The paintings were made available for sale. Buyers were given the freedom to choose the price. They were sold at prices ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 10,000. Since then, painting has been a part of their life.â
For the students, it is an exciting activity. âIt makes them feel good because they are doing something that they never thought they could do. Also, there is a volunteer by their side while they paint. The children love talking to them. A few of the volunteers are quite attached to the students,â Ananthu smiles.
The students who are partially blind paint using a brush. Those who cannot see at all are aided by volunteers who dip the studentsâ fingers in colours and move it across the canvas to paint their dreams.
âThe volunteers help them draw what they want, explaining it. For example, if a student wants to draw an elephant, the volunteer dips her/his fingers in paint and moves the hand on the canvas explaining the elephantâs shape and body parts. Some students donât like taking help. In that case, a volunteer helps them identify colours. The rest is up to them,â Ananthu explains, adding an anecdote of a Mohanlal fan. âChristo, who is completely blind, is a hardcore Mohanlal fan. After painting his version of the actor on the canvas, he asked the volunteer to write âI love you, Lalettaaâ on it. He wanted to gift this painting to the actor but we couldnât make that wish happen. We tried, but we couldnât reach him.â
Now, the students are excited about the calendar. They are looking forward to the response to their creation with high hopes.
Those who would like to buy the calendar can pay the amount (Rs 550) either through Google Pay to 9947790008 or transfer it to account number: 1140101065645, IFSC-CNRB0001140, Canara Bank, Parippu branch, Kottayam, along with your address. A receipt from the school PTA will be shared with you and the calendar will be couriered in a couple of weeks.
Elizabeth Thomas describes herself as a wild woman who finds happiness in words, colours, coffee and journeys.