Imagine being on a night dive and having all light sources fail. Or with both feet tied. Put yourself in the fins of a diver like that. Picture the difficulty with which you would have to drag yourself into or out of the water. These are a few of the obstacles between paraplegics, quadriplegics and the blind and their desire to experience the world below the waves.
Temple Adventures alongside Adventure Beyond Barriers organised pool try dives for the differently abled. In Vellore, at the CMC Medical Rehabilitation Centre, and in the Chandigarh Rehabilitation Centre. Over 45 participants assembled for these sessions.
Our goal was to help the differently abled experience our sport safely and to help them enjoy it too. Convincing the Rehabilitation Centres that we can conduct our programs with care meant we could start bringing participants to Pondy to dive in the Ocean. Our first regularly scheduled batches will begin in the third week of January 2018. But on the 21st of December, we had our first participant.
Those of us without visual impairments experience the underwater world primarily through sight. What about those who don’t possess that ability? Inspiring Ilango is a well-known figure whose skills overshadow his lack of sight. In addition to being a voice-over artist, he is a TV anchor and a professional singer. Having committed over 3500+ songs to memory, many in languages he doesn’t speak, helps him build a rapport with those listening to him.
Understanding how the differently abled perceive the underwater world is important in order to dive with them.In Ilango’s words, “My experience of the ocean is different. I heard and felt the underwater world. Between each breath, I could hear the reef breathe. After the bubbles rise, I could hear the life underwater! I let the sand from the bottom slip through my fingers, and it was fantastic. When the time came to ascend, I didn’t even want to!”
Differently Abled divers need to put their trust in the most capable divers, to venture underwater. One such man is Temple Adventure’s S.B. Aravind.
He is a Disabled Divers International (a diver certification agency), instructor. One of only two in the country. In addition to that, he works extensively with India’s defence organisations. He provides training guidance and helps with rescue and salvage operations and even disaster relief. He is also associated with universities and NGOs, helping with marine research and conservation efforts.
We at Temple Adventures always believe that anybody can dive. No matter what you do, where you are from or no matter what your physical abilities are, everyone should have the chance of exploring the underwater world.
Until next time,
~ Tinku, Lucy, and Beast