Panaji: Goa is set to host the International Purple Fest 2024, welcoming over 8,000 participants from India and various countries, marking the event’s international debut. Commencing next week, the festival aims to introduce initiatives such as a permanent spinal cord rehab center and an ALIMCO unit at GMC, Bambolim.
State commissioner for persons with disabilities (PwDs) Guruprasad Pawaskar said, “We are bridging the gap for individuals with spinal cord injuries who previously had to seek treatment outside the state, only to find no follow-up care upon their return. The permanent ALIMCO unit at GMC will ensure immediate access to artificial limbs, eliminating waiting periods after assessment.”
He also highlighted the efforts made to raise awareness across Goa. He said, “We have conducted huge awareness drives across Goa. For example, we have conducted orientation programmes for 1,200 drivers and conductors of the KTC because PwDs use these buses.”
While acknowledging the festival’s current impact, Pawaskar said, “Change cannot be expected within a few months. Efforts like screening movies for students from regular schools aim to alter perspectives. We have trained approximately 800 volunteers for this festival. Also, there are full-day training program facilitated by PwDs themselves, who better understand their requirements.”
Throughout the festival, assessment camps for disabilities and the distribution of free aids will be available, aiming to enhance inclusivity. Also, 30 wheelchair-accessible e-rickshaws will be launched, building upon the success of previous initiatives.
“The accessible rickshaws have been life-changing, offering independence to many,” said Pawaskar, highlighting the positive impact of these initiatives.
With 30 conferences covering diverse topics and interactive zones offering first-hand experiences of various disabilities, the fest aims to sensitise people toward disabilities.
Organised by the state commissioner’s office and the department of Social welfare, the festival is a collaborative effort involving nine NGOs in Goa, and 200 organisers from different parts of the country.
Pawaskar said, “Purple Fest is a collective endeavour, with various NGOs in Goa such as SETHU, SANGATH, National Association of Blind (NAB Goa), Goa Special Schools’ Association (GSSA), Caritas, Goa Deaf Association (GDF), Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG), Disability Alliance for Inclusive Goa (DAIG), and Hemophilia Society Goa (HSG) actively involved in creating awareness about individuals with disabilities and advocating for their rights.”
The agenda for the festival that will be held from January 8- 13 has been planned collaboratively by NGOs, with the Goa government providing infrastructure and financial support to further this inclusive concept. Pawaskar stressed the need for continuous efforts to ensure a more accommodating environment for individuals with disabilities.