KOCHI: It will remain etched in their memory for ever; as it was for the first time they travelled on public transport.
When Kochi Metro opened its doors for children with special needs, they erupted in excitement. It was heartening to see disabled people moving around with ease. The elevators and escalators were opened for them.
The children cheered, popped balloons and broke into songs as the Metro moved.
“Very often these children are denied the simple joys of life. The bulky wheelchairs restricted their movement. Many of the children have never travelled on a bus. The ride on a Metro train is an incredible experience, for it gives them a promise and hope for a better future,” said Nishamol K E, a teacher with Navajeevan School for Special Needs.
The ‘Snehayatra’ (journey of love), organized by Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL), provided an opportunity for about 1,550 people, including children with special needs, orphans, old age home inmates and physically challenged people. They came from 26 institutions recognised by the social welfare department. Out of this, 25 people were wheelchair-bound and 37 were visually impaired.
The large crowd gathered at the Metro station made the 12-year-old Arun uncomfortable. He was not used to seeing such large number of people. Very soon he broke into tears. His teachers were seen trying to console him and encouraging him to enter the train until he gathered the strength to do it.
Thomas Jose, a teenager, remained silent when his friends and teachers were excitedly talking and enjoying the sights around them.
Jose responded perfectly to the questions and when his teachers told him he shot questions back. When requested he made an effort to sing a song, but withdrew from it and wanted to be left to himself.
Elder citizens too joined the fun and frolic. The 80-year-old Kanchanavalli from an old age home at Fort Kochi said, “My knee hurts. But I don’t mind. I just enjoy being here.”
Health minister K K Shylaja inaugurated the event at Kalamassery Metro station. The presence of actor Rejisha Vijayan added glamour to the journey of love.
As part of the journey, KMRL ran multiple trains from Palarivattom to Aluva from 10am to 11.30am.
Meanwhile, KMRL also ensured that the security and baggage clearing systems were functional.