Sometime during mid-March, the Pandemic hit the world, and students of all the colleges faced major problems adapting to the new online method of learning and appearing for exams from home. For the blind students, the challenges were a level harder, but a team of Saathi volunteers was set up to assist the blind students in overcoming them. In the case of final year students, because there was a nationwide lockdown, the examination took place through online platforms. However, Saathi did a superb job conveying the academic details of visually impaired students to college and getting their hall tickets before the examination started. They also bought grace time for students to complete their papers with the help of scribes. Online examinations came with their own set of technical problems. Even if the college authorities were constantly working to minimize them, Saathi regularly updated the college on such difficulties faced by the students during the exams, so that the students had minimum stress when appearing for their papers.
The exams had finished, and it was time for new admission forms to be filled for the next academic year. Volunteers filled out admission forms for the visually impaired students, not only from Fergusson College, but several other colleges across Pune like Aabasaheb Garware College, Sir Parashurambhau College, and Nowrosjee Wadia College. There were a few third-year pass-out blind students who needed help filling out the university admission forms for their next academic year. Saathi undertook the responsibility of filling out their MA admission forms.
Visually impaired students are required to fill out scholarships that would aid them financially for their education. A team of volunteers filled out the application forms for two such scholarships. One of them was Help the Blind Foundation, Chennai, which offers financial assistance to visually impaired students’ higher education. There were about 15-16 students applying for this scholarship. Volunteers from Saathi processed their application and all the jobs, starting from getting every student’s essential documents like Bonafide certificate from college, filling the form, and uploading everything to the portal, were carefully executed.
The other was a scholarship offered by the National Scholarship Portal. About 10-12 visually impaired students applied for the National Scholarship. Here, the authorization from the college was of utmost significance. Along with it, Saathi ensured that every minuscule detail was looked upon. Volunteers made sure all the documents were verified before sending them to NSP.
Out of nowhere, the Pandemic hit everyone and students were forced to get used to the new normal. During such hardships, Saathi acted like a supporting pillar to those in need.
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