Saathi 2020-2021

14. Saathi/SOEC Valedictorian

On the 16th of June, in a short meet along with blind students and student coordinators, the Teacher Coordinator of Saathi, Dr. Santosh Dhotre sir announced new coordinators for the academic year 2021-22. The programme began at 5 p.m. with Dhiraj welcoming everyone and giving a brief overview of the year. The student coordinators Bhakti Patel, Bhavesh Zanje, Deepali Vaidya, and Dhiraj Yadav talked about the experience they had throughout the year. They expressed their gratitude for the support and love they received from the volunteers and blind students. Bhakti and Deepali who were to graduate this year shared their heartfelt memories made with Saathi. 

Dhiraj then called Dr. Santosh Dhotre sir to announce the new coordinators. Sir, too, took everyone through Saathi’s year-round journey and appreciated the resourcefulness and initiative of coordinators in conducting new and innovative activities, events, and webinars with volunteers throughout the year. Their 15-month term as student coordinators of Saathi was the longest ever. Sir, thereafter, announced Disha Patil (SYBA), Sonal Shinde (SYBA), Ishika Shejwal (TYBA), and Ria Chandorkar (TYBA) as student coordinators for the year 2021-22, congratulating them and giving them his best wishes for the year ahead.

Rushikesh Adhao, Tejas Waghmare, and Arti Manmode were invited to bid farewell to former student coordinators and welcome new student coordinators. They congratulated the new coordinators and expressed that they look forward to different activities which shall be planned for the coming year. They thanked Dhiraj, Deepali, Bhakti and Bhavesh for the previous year which was a grand success. 

The meet ended with the newly appointed student coordinators striving to carry out Saathi’s work with efficiency with the help of and support from volunteers and blind students. Everyone ended the call on a hopeful note that colleges reopen and Saathi be able to conduct a few activities on campus this year.

Before the academic year could completely end, there was one last program for all the volunteers and coordinators. This program was the SOEC Valedictorian organized by the head student coordinators of the Social Outreach Enabling Center. On 4th September 2021, the program began sharp at 11 AM with the current coordinators, Sonal and Naviya introducing the work and aim of having the SOEC in Fergusson College. They also spoke about the numerous activities that had been conducted throughout the year on topics like Volunteer’s Day, mental health for women, sexual harassment in the workplace.

Then the principal of Fergusson College, Dr. Ravindrasingh Pardeshi sir, was called upon to address the students. In his address, the principal talked of how SOEC came into being and the main objective of having it in the college. He wished all the best to those who were about to step into the world and wished they would do amazing work to make the world a better place.

After principal sir, Nirmala Talape, the teacher coordinator of SOEC, talked of how SOEC has changed over the past few years. She briefly introduced all the centers falling under SOEC. Nirmala Madam was overwhelmed with how far every center has come and thanked all the coordinators and volunteers for the delightful work carried out throughout the years. She then introduced the new teacher coordinators who will be handling the center from the next academic year and handed the mic to Santosh Dhotre sir.

Santosh Dhotre, the teacher coordinator of Saathi Enabling Center, spoke about Saathi. Even Santosh sir was extremely satisfied with the new activities initiated by Saathi and all other organizations. Especially during the pandemic times, when the entire world had come to a halt, Saathi had kept on going, trying to make everyday tasks related to academics easier for students with impairments. He was grateful to all volunteers for helping and to the coordinators for initiating new ideas and strategies to aid those in need.

Then it was time to call upon the coordinators from various centers under SOEC to speak about their organization Coordinators from various organizations came forward to elaborate on what all they had done throughout the year. It was like a report presented by coordinators. Some also called their volunteers to describe experiences with the respective organizations and even announced the coordinators-to-be for the next academic year.

And finally, it was Saathi’s turn to showcase all that they had done in the year, as well as introduce the new coordinators. Deepali Vaidya, who was the coordinator of Saathi, spoke about how Saathi Enabling Center aims to create a friendly atmosphere for the differently-abled. Many new programs were implemented this year while keeping in mind the need of the hour. These activities included Virtual Study Circle, My English Buddy, and career webinars for students with impairments called Lakshya Webinars. Let’s Record, a very widespread activity, included people recording novels and books for visually impaired students around the globe. Some students wanted to clear competitive exams and Saathi helped them study for the exams. Under this initiative, Pooja Kadam, an aspirant of civil services, cleared her Mains and appeared for her interview. Pranit Gupta was another student who appeared for his CA Foundation exam. And Yogesh Mitkari scored 8.5+ CGPA in his final year. In this way, students from Saathi broke records. There were above 750 registrations by students from different colleges as volunteers in Saathi. Additionally, this year Saathi Enabling Center served students with disability not only of Fergusson College but of other colleges, too. Deepali then called Sanika Kolhatkar and Gauranshi Kanotra to speak about their experiences with Saathi. Sanika initially was first acquainted with the aim of the organization. She said that students weren’t really worried about credits when working with Saathi. They were more involved with the entire process of helping society in some way. According to her, the pandemic was rather a boon to everyone, especially for the Saathi students, as they were reaching great heights together. She quoted Helen Keller by saying that, alone, we can do so little, but together we can do so much and encouraged others to engage in social work. For Gauranshi Kanotra, Saathi served as a way to break many biases about people with impairments. She said, to her, Saathi felt like a family and she learned a lot from the previous coordinators.

The valedictorian ended with a vote of thanks by Sonal Deshpande. She thanked everyone for attending the last program of the year. It was a brief session, filled with excitement for the next year, but it served as an ending note to the academic year 2020-21, which caused both happiness and sadness to fill the air when the program ended.

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