Nearly 500 km away from state capital Bengaluru, Jnanasindhu Residential School is based in Gadag District in Holealur. The school started its journey in the year 2002 with only four children and is now a talent house of 80 children aged between 5 and 16. Of these 80 children, 35 are girls.
Run by 70-year-old Tulsamma Kelur, a Rajyotsava awardee for social work, and her 38-year-old son Shivananda Kelur, the school aims to establish the self-esteem of these children through moral, cultural, occupational and regular school education. “Apart from regular curriculum, which is taught in Braille, the students are trained in yoga and classical music,” said Mr Kelur, who is also the master yoga trainer in the school. While the children do yoga twice a day for one hour each, during competitions and festivals, the practice sessions extend to 3-4 hours, he said.
The students are taught Mallakhamba, a traditional sport where a gymnast performs aerial yoga postures. They are also taught rope walking. “While for a visually-abled person, the sport would be simpler, for these children, we use special ‘touch and feel’ training method. We also use music to give them audible cues to change between postures,” said Mr Kelur.
For these children, the first fight comes from home. Mr Kelur said that since these children come from very humble families, most of the parents do not support them when they go out and perform in competitions. They say that our child cannot see and all these things will not help them earn any money. He said that the idea of the school is to make them independent and not a burden on their families.
While yoga perfomances have given them a lot of encouragement, the children are also equally adept in classical music. Mr Kelur also hopes to train them in agriculture using music. “Once they know how to cultivate, they will never go hungry or be dependent on any one,” he said. He, however, confessed that he does not have the land or resources to start this training, but he hopes to find support.
The children have performed in Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai and have also participated in competitions with international teams competing against them. Talking about the challenges, Mr Kelur said that since the school falls in the interiors, even the post man does not come here, the mobile networks too are patchy. A firm believer in the children’s talent, Mr Kelur said, “We wish to train our children in such a way that they get to go abroad and represent India. The visa and applications, however, are a big problem and we are also under a financial crunch.”
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