Some of us take up music and a few who are daring take dance, but hardly a handfull of us indulge in outdoor activities

Need inspiration Meet these 40 blind girls who trekked up the Chamundi hillsImage: Special Arrangement
news Tuesday, December 01, 2015 - 19:04

A hill is little more than a picturesque scene to someone who doesn’t live among them. But for 40 girls in Mysuru district, Chamundi hill is likely to be special for very personal reasons – they climbed it, even though they never believed they would be able to.

For 15-year-old Bhavitha Saturdays usually meant three hours of music class in the mornings. But on November 29, she and 40 of her schoolmates at the Rangarao Memorial Residential School for the Visually Challenged were gearing up for a trek up the Chamundi hills.

“People like us are expected to indulge in indoor activities mostly. Some of us take up music and a few who are daring take dance,” said Bhavitha, who has learnt Carnatic music for six years.

Chamundi Hills is a well-known landmark and visible from anywhere in Mysore city. The top of the hill houses the famous Chamundeshwari temple after which the hill was named.

Saturday was especially important for the girls as it was World Disabled Day and the International Academy of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (IAMAS) and Tiger Foundation for Adventure Sports, put together the trekking expedition for the girls. 

Instilling confidence in visually challenged students

Tiger Solanki, who heads Tiger Foundation for Adventure Sports said that this was just the first step. The organisation’s larger goal is to take the girls to the Himalayas someday. “We have been taking visually impaired boys on treks since 2006, but this is the first time we took the girls. We spoke to them for three years (about this before we could convince them).”

A few years ago Tiger Foundation took the tribals of Bandipur to Himalayas. “It took us 12 years to convince them to venture out of Karnataka. Even if one person is not convinced about safety, the project would fail.”

Sixteen-year-old Mary Abhinandana said, “I am in my 9th standard, but this is the first adventure for all the girls in the school. Although at school we are constantly told that we can do anything, there is always a grain of doubt considering the risks involved in these kinds of activities.”

She added: “While representatives from the academy had been speaking to us for a long time about how adventures would instil confidence, but none of us could really understand how we could go on a trek in the wilderness. But they got us back home without a single scratch on us.”

All the girls had to take was a bottle of water, a bag and wear shoes suitable for climbing. Each student was assisted by a girl volunteer from Rotary Midtown Academy.

“Some of us held on to a rope that was tied (along the path). Apart from that each one of us was also given a volunteer, who tagged along with us. All of us made a new friend that day,” Shalini said.

What is it like to be an explorer

“We must have walked at least 1.5 km uphill. I was difficult because we have never climbed anything. We would stop now and then, and the volunteers would as us to feel the rocks and the plants. Many times they would ask us to bend down and feel the thorns,” Shalini who is in studying in the ninth standard.

“Instead of telling us that there was a boulder and we had to climb it, the volunteers would asked us to check the distance between our foot and the boulder,” said Bhavita.

“After the trek, we feel we can venture out too. I fit wasn’t for this trek from school, I don’t know if I’d get this opportunity elsewhere. I would move to junior college next year, and there would be new people, nobody knows if I’d ever get this kind of opportunity in the new institute,” she added.


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