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Correspondence friends extend a hand – The New Indian Express

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Correspondence friends extend a hand - The New Indian Express

Express News Service

One person with other abilities asked Surendran Krishnan to write an exam and he was very happy to help. He was extremely surprised when after the exam the student offered him money. He then realized that this – the practice of taking money for writing exam papers for the disabled – is the norm and the amount charged usually ranges from 200 to 500 rupees. He felt that something had to be done about it. This is how correspondence friends were formed.

Pen Pals organizes scribes to write exams for those who need writers. This is one of the reasons for the non-profit organization VFC – Volunteer for a Cause, based in Bangalore, which is mainly operating in Bangalore for the past three years. Savio Sequeira, 28, has been working with Pen Pals for two years and after starting as a volunteer, is now the coordinator of Pen Pals.

Savio says, “We started small. We started by announcing the students who would need volunteers, and then started creating our database. Many students and organizations know what we do, so they turn to us on a volunteer basis if there are any requirements. ”
The group collects for volunteers its Whatsapp group and posts on its Facebook page. Savio believes they have about 2,500 volunteers, and those who are a permanent contributor are given more responsibility for coordinating matters.

But despite social media, finding volunteers is not easy. “It is a misconception that enumerators are needed only by students with visual impairments, they are needed even by other disabled people. That said, we usually manage to find people, but sometimes when there are Canadian requirements, it’s difficult, “Savio added. Although their Savio-led Whatsapp team has only about 50 members, it still has considers this group the best way to find volunteers.

Almost everyone who works at Pen Pals, including Savio, who works as an HR manager, works as professionals, making them difficult to carry out the process of selecting enumerators. He says: “Ideally, we would like the scribe to meet with the student 1-2 days in advance and check the compatibility, because some volunteers do not know Kannada at all. But because we all work somewhere, there is not enough time and labor. “
Another dilemma faced by correspondence friends is when students ask for help from correspondents in answering an exam. While some scribes help, some don’t. And eventually the group receives complaints from both students and correspondents. Savio explains that they need to look at it from the perspective of the students. “Of course, what they do is not ethical, but they (visually impaired schoolchildren) do not even have the appropriate textbooks to study. Often they have to travel so many kilometers just to pass the exam. “

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