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Inclusion Retreat -- Disability To Dilability

Over the last couple days, we held an "inclusion retreat" with differently abled folks, NGO's working in the sector, and related innovators.  It all started with one dynamite, blind girl, who asked me: "I'd love to help others but I don't know how. Will you help me?"  She not only got busy giving, but then started to build a field around her -- and this weekend, about 40 of us came together for a retreat.

The retreat was just pure magic.  At one point, everyone put on a blind-fold and the emcees said, "Okay, guys tea break.  See you in 15 minutes."  We all had to self organize with a new form of intelligence, and our blind friends were leading the way. 

Here is Priyanka riding a scooter for the first time in her life (with Jaideep guiding her from the back):

People who are typically extremely introverted started blooming like never before.  A deaf and mute kid said he wanted to give a "spirited talk" (which he did in sign language); seeing this, a wheelchair bound fellow said he can script a play if others can act it out; bunch of blind folks agree to step it up and dance it out.  Nirav, the emcee of that little play, cried as he introduced everyone -- it was the first time he cried since his accident made him wheelchair bound, many years ago.  Kiran, our blind poet laureate, was firing out "shayri" left and right -- as she taught Gitanjali how to "laugh like no one is watching."

The whole thing just filled your heart, again and again.  Here is Suchi's beautiful blog post with more stories.

A huge percent of the participants might say that these were the best days of their life.  After the closing, Priyanka herself sobbed on my shoulders.  Jaideep and Sridhar have renamed India Inclusion Summit's fundraising dinner to "dilability" dinner, Meera and Youth 4 Jobs (the largest NGO in the country in this space) are redefining scale from breadth to depth.  The ripples are inevitable. 

Perhaps what was most touching was many folks remarking, "And this whole thing was run by volunteers?!?"   

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