Having anchored herself in the craft of pot artistry, Reshma Benny, an undergraduate student from Valakayam near Kanjirapally, continues to document her personal response to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.
The back-to-back lock downs and social distancing norms have turned the daily fabric of her life upside down. But the time and space afforded by these lock downs has helped this young artist to connect with a broader community for a cause.
Ms. Benny is now an active member of a collective, Kala 4 care, that uses the artistic skills of its members to benefit the special children. The proceeds from the sale of all her artworks, along with that of her fellow artists, are routed to fund the research and development of technology that assists children with autism or cerebral palsy.
To begin with, the collective funded the development Mozhi, an application meant for assisting people with hearing loss and other disabilities. The open-source application, developed in association with Punarjeeva Technology Solutions — a startu-p specialising in assistive technology and gamified physical and cognitive rehabilitation for specially abled children, helps convert speech to text and supports multiple languages.
Says Robin Tommy, the community leader of Kala4Care, “the lockdown indeed spawned a boom of home crafts such as bottle artistry, planting designs or painting while a host of others took to vlogging. Our attempt is to combine these two aspects of art and communication for a social cause,” said Mr. Tommy, who heads the Rapid Labs project of the TCS.
The collective currently has about 30 members, of which about five are artists while the remaining members have been tasked with managing the sales and creating awareness on special children through videos. “The collective is primarily based in Kanjirappally while people from other locations including Ernakulam and Irinjalakkuda are too associating with us. The members meet online once in every month to review the functioning and chart out the plan of actions,” added Mr. Tommy.
Following the successful roll out of Mozhi, the group is now associating with a project to develop an intelligent alarm for the use of people having Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — a neurodegenerative neuromuscular disease .
Besides the funding of technology, the collective also organises online sessions for these special students and their parents in association with the Adarsh Charitable Trust. The sessions vary from technology, therapy, parenting and vocational training, among others.
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