During the summer of 2016, rioting between Kashmiri people and Indian security forces caused injuries to over 15,000 people. Of those 15,000 injured people, 1,178 experienced pellet injuries to their eyes. Through our partner in Kashmir, Pastor Sonny, we learned of the great need for eye doctors and surgeons to repair damaged eyes. Mobilizing efforts to recruit these medical professionals, on December 11, 2016, an eye team from the South East Asia Prayer Center (SEAPC) arrived in Srinagar, Kashmir.
The team met with Dr. Tariq Qureshi, head of the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Ophthalmology Department in Srinagar, India, on December 12. After treating over 1,000 people who were injured during the riots, Qureshi realized the ever-increasing need for a high-tech school for the blind and visually impaired in Kashmir. During the meeting, Dr. Qureshi challenged them with this need. While there are currently two antiquated schools that serve the blind and visually impaired in the greater Kashmir area, Qureshi argues that the existing schools are ineffective, both lacking modern tools to educate and train individuals seeking services.
After hearing Dr. Qureshi’s challenge, Mark Geppert replied in agreement, supporting the initiative to help create a state-of-the-art, high-tech school for the blind and visually impaired in Kashmir. The team plans to rent out a space for the new school, with an initial goal to serve 25 blind or visually impaired students. Thinking forward, the team hopes to develop the school further to increase the student population to 100. Cecilia Manning from the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children and Rob Pillar, a local architect will help to facilitate structure design, classroom equipping, and staff training. Cecelia Manning is a technical expert on high-tech equipment for teaching the visually impaired.
The school will feature an eye clinic for those who need continued eye care, hosting both local doctors and eye specialists from around the world. Currently, the team is creating a list of needed equipment for the school, with current equipment and classroom costs at approximately $2,500 per student. The team will be buying 25 iPads, three 3D printers, 10 readers, computer aid systems, and equipment to establish a student sensory room.
In support of these efforts, Computer Reach has provided the group with 10 Apple laptops and one iPad, along with medical relief supplies. By doing so, we hope to support SEAPC in their mission to establish a tech-empowered school for the blind and visually impaired in Kashmir.
To learn more about SEAPC, visit their website!
For more news on how Computer Reach is working to help bridge the digital divide, visit our News page.