Opening Eyes

Jezreel Sarah Nathan

Artist / Designer

4 out of 5 individuals who are blind can be cured entirely by corrective surgery. This one blaring fact was the singular reason for Purpose and Taxi Fabric to come together.

Purpose approached Taxi Fabric with this issue and educated them about its visibility to the world. When it was brought to their attention that hardly anyone knew about it, it came as an absolute shocker. It made them realise how urgently the message needed to be put out there.

When people are being driven home on this taxi, they wanted this issue to also be driven home. For people to start talking, and positively start feeling something about it.

“More and more people had to be educated,  the Government had to be rallied in, conversations had to be started, minds had to be stirred. People had to be made to feel angered, pained and reactive. So Taxi Fabric decided to do it in their own way - through art and design, and not by cajoling and preaching,” says Sanket Avlani, Founder Taxi Fabric.

The idea was to use an approach that would include the visually impaired children themselves, in the process of creating the awareness. So a design for a taxi was conceived by artist Jezreel Nathan.

“The thought process behind the title was that it not only encapsulated the message but was also reflective of the design process that displayed a sort of before and after effect of corrective surgery,” says Jezreel.

To that extent, a workshop was conducted by Jezreel, the designer of the taxi and Sanket, the Founder of Taxi Fabric. In this workshop, about 10-12 blind children were given drawing stationery, art supplies and a word each. Each of them had to paint that word on paper. Considering their visual impairment, most of the kids’ representations of those words were essentially abstract looking paint splotches.

The next step  for Jezreel was to take those painted splotches and draw over their representations of the words, to create more recognisable and realistic forms of those words and lend them meaning. “By doing this exercise my aim was to show the child's impairment before surgery through their painted splotches, and the drawings that I did over their splotches were symbolic of the improvement in vision that corrective surgery can bring about,” adds Jezreel.

To visually represent the message that every 4 out of 5 visually impaired children could have their sight restored, Jezreel placed one paint splotch alongside 4 more of the same splotches with 4 variations of line drawings of each corresponding word.

For everyone involved in the collaboration, it turned out to be a life-changing experience. “There were many instances that invoked a deep sense of gratitude for having the ability to see, but at the same time there was even wonder looking at the kids who in spite of their impairment were so full of joy and open to accepting the challenge of drawing something they had only felt, but never seen before, says Anant Ahuja, Strategist and Partner, Taxi Fabric.  

It made one realise that no matter what background or strata of society one belongs to, everyone has the right to hope for a better tomorrow, a comfortable way of living, and a more fulfilling existence.

“It was a brilliant experience to work with Taxi Fabric - the collaborative network that they brought in to co-create this project - from artists, to the civil society to tech start-ups and the like have made this project an incredible success. They provided a creative, unique and engaging way to connect with the Indian public, says Gautam Raju from Purpose.

Whether or not the impact of this taxi is immediate or felt in the long run, one doesn’t surely know. But what this collaboration wanted to achieve by championing this cause is to simply allow people to hope. To hope in the existence of a reality they do not see yet, but can feel getting closer to.

“I think this collaboration is a beginning to multiple tactics that we will need to deploy to raise mainstream awareness on the issue of avoidable blindness. We have had a huge response online, with almost 3 million people viewing our video online and hope to create greater impact in the days to come,” hopes Gautam.


This Taxi Fabric has been supported by See Now