Monday, August 27, 2012

Yes, we can - Express India (Deafblind)

Abbas deftly moves his fingers on pieces of clay and as he works, the shapeless lumps begin to transform and take the shape of a robot. Finally, he pokes two strands of silver metal into the head of the robot to form its antennae. The work complete, Abbas smiles with satisfaction but he himself cannot see clearly what a fine piece of art he has just created.

Abbas has hearing and visual impairment.

The robot is just one of his several works, all of them commendable. The quality of his art belies the fact that he cannot see or hear properly.

The 30-year-old is one of the six-odd students like him participating in an animation and fine arts course at the Helen Keller Institute for the Deaf and Deafblind in Byculla. While the institute is one of the oldest of its kind in the city working for the empowerment of the deafblind, this happens to be its first professional animation workshop.

Volunteers Nikhil Jeewa (26) and Kunal Rajguru (23) who have been teaching the students are themselves in awe of the high-quality art the students have been coming up with.

“Their talent is amazing. Their pencil sketches are so detailed that no one would guess it’s the work of someone who has hearing and visual impairment,” says Nikhil.

Their art has brightened up the small classroom. The walls are adorned with charcoal sketches, water colour paintings and pastel colour drawings, all by deafblind students.

[The rest of this article is at this link: Yes, we can - Express India

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fwd: ZoomNews from Ai Squared: Cool Websites

[From the ZoomNews from AI Squared]

Cool Websites

Image of a smiley face with sunglasses onZoomText user Kathy Kalaluhi sent in a bunch of websites that she thought other ZoomText users would find interesting and helpful. We liked the idea so much that it's become a regular "column" in ZoomNews! Below are her suggestions and if you'd like to submit any websites for the next issue, please email them to Becca at!
  • Farmigo - this site puts you in touch with local farmers and farmers markets so that you can buy fresh and healthy produce in your area. It gives you locations of where you can pick up orders such as churches or schools. If you find a farm in your area that takes orders, you can place orders online.
  • TuneIn - an online radio station where you can tune in for local stations. It is not necessary to register but if you do, you can receive added benefits such as setting your pre-set channels and searching for music or programming according to several categories.
  • HelloFax - an online fax service that lets you send signed documents, add signatures to emails, and fill out forms.
And a new category of sorts: "Best fruits in the orchard" - the best Mac apps for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad! Some of them are available on the Android platform as well.
  • Dictamus - this was voted business app of the month for May in Smart Computing. You can record anything and it has its own voice activation program which surpasses the lady who comes on the iPhone. You can even rewind and fast forward.
  • MileBug - helps you track miles that you can then deduct from your IRS income tax. Seems ideal for people who use their vehicles for business purposes. There's a free Lite version as well.
  • eBay & PayPal Fee Calculator - helps sellers calculate all the fees such as shipping, eBay fees, PayPal fees etc. that will be deducted from your selling price on items you list. Works for both auctions and buy it now options.
Thanks to Kathy for these great suggestions!

Visual Impairments Specialist Scotlandville Elementary

[Nick's Walk] No Cookies for You Today

[From my Kairos Brother Nick Sigur.]

On Thursday, Brandon Scott Lavergne and I will both be at Angola. You know why Lavergne will be there. I will be present as a guest of the warden and the chaplain co-ordinator for Kairos Prison Ministry. Many of you have supported the ministry with prayer, money, and our famous cookies.

The ministry has been serving at Angola for nearly twenty years and we are trusted friends of the prison. I have had coffee and frank discussions with Warden Cain. All he really knows about me is that I'm "with Kairos." That's all it takes. The administration of Angola respects what Jesus has done through Kairos and other prison ministries. On Thursday, members of the Kairos Advisory Board will be looking at expanding our ministry to Camp J. The prison has asked us to do this. We are short of volunteers, but long on Jesus. We currently serve Camps C, D and the main prison. We do retreats in these camps and encourage weekly prayer and share meetings with the residents. We call them "residents" and not inmates, cons, prisoners or whatever. Camp J is a disciplinary camp. It houses those who haven't learned to follow the many rules at Angola. We won't be doing Kairos weekends for those guys. We will be providing Kairos to the trustees who work at Camp J. The five thousand or so inmates at Angola often wait for years before being invited to a Kairos Weekend. Those in detention or in disciplinary status are not candidates for Kairos. Learn more here.

Brandon Scott Lavergne will not be served by Kairos for years. He will be in isolation for a very long time. Especially in cases of such publicity as his, the institution separates these men for their safety and for the smoother running of the institution. Brandon has been incarcerated before. His incarceration didn't reform him and didn't prevent him committing even more heinous crimes upon his release. That doesn't mean that other men in other situations shouldn't be given second changes. All those convicted of crimes are different, just as all men are different.

At Angola, most of the residents are lifers. In Louisiana life is life. Barring a miracle, Brandon Scott Lavergne will be at Angola until he dies. A few years ago that might not have been very long. Angola was one of the bloodiest prisons in America. But Jesus has changed all that. Angola is now a model for other prisons. It may be the world's largest gated Christian community. No not everyone there is a Christian. But the number who are might surprise you and the most prominent landmarks are no longer the guard towers, but the steeples of chapels in each camp. When I am there I am greeted by smiles from bible toting inmates and often hugs from those I have met over the years. I feel safer there than on many of the streets in Lafayette, even with Brandon off those streets now.

I have spent weekends sharing Jesus with killers. One in particular was my guest and a movie has been made of his crime. You don't need to know more. He's not the same guy. They haven't made a movie yet about Brandon; but they probably will. Just remember the end isn't written yet.

Brandon Scott Lavergne, No Cookies for You Today. But maybe a few years from now you will walk into a room filled with loving volunteers who Jesus will use to change your life. Or maybe not. For now the friends and families of the victims, and the entire Lafayette, Louisiana community will breathe easier and that's a good and right thing. Thank you Jesus.

Keep baking cookies. Jesus still saves just as He loves and comforts and restores the convicted and their victims alike.

Be blessed.


Posted By Blogger to Nick's Walk at 8/19/2012 03:15:00 AM


I've been MIA form this blog for a reason. It may not seem like a good reason but it is what it is: I did not work this summer--or I should say that I was not paid. I signed up to work for the exceptional students' summer program as I do each year. I even have a little box I keep for this. I was approved and received my confirmation email back in April. Due to budget cuts, the lady who is over the extended year program had to let me know on the day before school ended that I would not be hired.

At first I was a little depressed because I like being able to spend summers in a classroom. I also depend on the income to take up the slack over the summer. This year having gone through my husband's illness I was so afraid of getting behind on more bills. We did better than expected. God was looking out for us.

I'd decided that my little patio garden was going to get some attention this year. I have not been able to do it justice since my doctor told be not to be in the sun after chemo. This is the first year since I have been able to tolerate a little as I worked in the twilight of the early morning or late evening. I planted some calladiums and more elephant ears. I put pansies and daisies around one of the oak trees and I planted some food plants. The cherry bomb peppers were delicious in some spaghetti. I also have one cherry tomato plant and  red, green and yellow bell pepper plants.

I was the agape person for the Kairos Prison Ministry team back in June. It is always a blessing although it took more from me having to use a new hotel. It was a nice place but at the old hotel we had the use of a conference room and didn't have to go back and forth to a church fellowship hall during the day to do our jobs. besides that, the folks at the old hotel know what we do and become part of the ministry with us. The folks who planned for us to use the new hotel didn't understand that because they are usually inside the prison during the day so they have no idea what goes on while they are away during the day. Fortunately we had more ladies on his team so it didn't take as long for us to get our jobs done. We had time to see the sights and eat lunch at the Magnolia Inn Cafe.

The Louisiana Congressional Baptist Convention was hosted at our church and I've never been able to attend. Since I was not working during the day I was able to attend and enrolled in one of the classes. I drove my mother every day and we had a wonderful time!

Our home town in Arkansas has a reunion each year and we had a great time there. My mother rented a van and my sister and I took turns driving . We were even in the little parade! It was good to see family member and friends I had not seen in a while.

Later we went to a family reunion of my dad's side of the family in Chicago. We rode the train there which is always fun. My mother doesn't like to fly.

When I returned home my car blew up and my phone kinda-sorta went out. I was supposed to paint a group of murals at the middle school but when my phone decided it was going to allow messages the principal said the job would have to go up for bidding because the cost was up to $1000. I still need to call her. She probably thinks I'm nuts for not returning her call.

Meanwhile, for 4 or five weeks at least, my elbow has been giving me problems. I put off going to the doctor because of no income. Just yesterday I was able to go and the doctor says it's not arthritis this time, but tendonitis--probably from all of the moving and packing I had to do at the end of school. Then I had to move some of the boxes over the summer and go through my closets.

I feel blessed, though because not being able to work left me with some opportunities I would not have had if I'd been working. Then at the very end of the summer the VA contacted my husband with an increased disability decision. The Saturday before school started we went shopping for a used car for me and we found this cute Chevy HHR. I need that hatchback for hauling! Wouldn't you know, the first day of school I find out that I am reassigned to another school! The last school was moved which is why I had to pack up and take some stuff home and leave others to be moved to their new location. I received an email from the assistant principal there telling me I needed to come and get the boxes--although at the time I had no place to put them. I packed about 8 boxes in my HR before I was told I needed to move my car from the driveway. Then I thought, Why am I torturing myself with this bad arm? I will get a form for Aramark to move them all to the new school! If I should hurt myself and have to spend a day at the doctor and home this close to the beginning of school, I will feel so very overwhelmed with trying to play catchup!

So that is what I did--and I went to my new school to remind someone that I am on their rolls now and if someone could please find me a little space to unpack, I would be so grateful! It is not easy doing what I do and not having a spot to land. Last term with 14 schools, mountains of paper work and no spot, I was quite overwhelmed.

I'm praying for a good school year.

At any rate, I'm back to my blog--whatever that means.