I just had a lunch with a great friend, she told me how our common friend had misbehaved in a restaurant with a stammering waiter. He threw up his hands in air saying, “He can’t deal with him.” It reminded of my recent conversation with Anshul who told me that he was attended by two hearing and speech challenged attendants at an Costa Coffee outlet in the city. I asked him if his interaction had been satisfactory, he replied with affirmative. He said they communicated through signals. I think we can’t blame the organizations for not hiring the disabled, some of them like NIIT, BEL Ltd. and Costa Coffee are doing their bit, but we too have to change our mindsets and deal responsibly and with sensitivity.
When I published this post about empowering the disabled, one of the readers Praneshachar wrote me a long email about how his organization was providing employment to the disabled and empowering them. After reading his email, I realized he was clearly the person who had had several meaningful interactions with the disabled. I invited him to write a guest post about his experiences. Reading his article, I realized he has been working for a NGO that works for empowering the disabled. Here is what Praneshachar has got to tell us:
Disabled and Me
About 13 years back, a young 18-year-old physically handicapped boy was posted to my section. Everyone, seeing condition, thought that he will be another liability but he proved otherwise. I say another because his father was also an employee with our organization.
This boy had severe polio and walked with stretches with lot of difficulty. He joined under handicapped quota, passing just SSLC (10th). He was genius and had hands on knowledge about computers. Because of this very qualification, he was taken one grade above the staff level.
Seeing his IQ, I suggested him to do B.Com and then join some professional course. But he had different ideas. He was interested in technical stream. He joined computer diploma and successfully completed. He then applied when applications were called for diploma holders and got selected. This took him from level 2 to level 7. He moved directly from finance to technical department. Meanwhile, his father passed away and he took full responsibility of his family.
He didn’t stop at that. He joined BE in evening college and he will be completing the same. If he again applies when recruitment of engineers takes place, it will be no wonder if he jumps to level two in executive cadre. I appreciated and encouraged him for his grit and commitment. In spite of his handicap, he wanted to work on technical side, facing the challenges with lot of commitment.
I feel proud of him. Hats off to his parents who have not let him down!
I have come into contact with one blind man hailing from a village in backward district.
He works in technical area and happily married and has two kids. Both kids are normal. His wife and mother bring him to main road and leave. He comes from there to the factory. Whenever I have interacted with him, he is bubbling with enthusiasm. He has got great plans for his children. Kudos to him and his family!
There is third person near my house, he is physically handicapped. He is lame and walks with lot of difficulty. He runs a STD booth, he goes to the booth early in the morning. Around 6 o’ clock, he walks about 2 kms to catch a bus as no buses ply at that time near his house. He comes back only by eight in the night. He earns a decent income and lives happily with his family.
I had a happy stint with AASHANKURA (meaning RAY OF HOPE) a school of mentally challenged. I was closely associated with it for three years. About 55 children with various mental disabilities live here, a dedicated staff takes care of them. They are in school till they are 18. During this time, they are taught under various schemes designed for them. Some of them are taking NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) exam also. It is a great feeling when almost all of them are around whenever I visit the school. Number of children from this school have participated in National and International sports events and have brought laurels to country by winning gold, silver and bronze medals.
What they do after 18
Most of the boys are able to get into some place for work. The problem is for girls, as parents are worried about sending them too far for long and also for other reasons. Staying in house, girls can only eat and watch TV. It sometimes create inconvenience for parents, particularly mothers. These girls can not be kept in school as we take new batches after prolonged efforts & keen involvement of parents.
A Trust has been formed for this purpose. Now the girls are engaged in some new jobs: screen printing, printing greeting cards designed by them, selling some eatables etc. Right now organisation has allotted a quarter to them and provided a place for selling their items. Most of these girls are busy with their mothers actively associated in this.
We hope that the trust we started two years ago will grow. We are looking for a piece of land and have its own building, to extend the scope to larger activities. I am closely associated with it and doing my best in helping them. It is a great feeling to be part of it. Whenever I visit, I see the glow in the girls and happiness in the faces of mothers.
I have restricted my experiences with disabled to a selected few. I feel proud to be associated with all of them in some form or other.
Common man can do in small way what best they can do in their neighborhood if someone who is not groomed by parents must take up and instill confidence in them and bring them to main stream. Look for some NGO or other agencies who are doing great work. You can help them by getting involved, by contributing you time and resources, by encouraging etc. We must all do something to society all these have born or became disabled not for his fault. So it is up to individual to make up their mind. As they say: where there is a will, there is a way.
Thanks Poonam, for posting it in your blog!
Image Source: Worcestershire County Council