“When I earn money of my own, I want to buy an electronic two-wheeler!” Says Shantanu, excitedly, while Isha and Ankita smile in the background. Upon asking them their professional aspirations, Isha quickly responds saying she has always wanted to work with younger children, especially in the role of a teacher. Ankita, on the other hand, continues to smile as pleasantly eventually to share that she wants to work in leadership roles. Shantanu, Isha and Ankita are all beneficiaries of SVK Shikshan Sanstha, a Nagpur based non-profit working towards employment of people with cognitive disabilities (Mental retardation, ADHD, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, etc).
The Disability Act, passed in 2016, protects disabled persons in India from various forms of discrimination, ensures their access to equal employment opportunities, and enhances their societal participation. It has been four years since the act, and yet the employment percentages of people with disabilities have not risen as proportionally. This can mostly be attributed to the socio-cultural apprehensions in employers and society at large that prevent people with disabilities from satisfactory job opportunities.
Keeping this in mind, SVK Shikshan Sanstha had, in 2018, initiated a professional and personality development approach to increase the employment opportunities presented to people with disabilities. Two years since its inception, SVK is proud to share that three of its beneficiaries: Ankita Sur, Shantanu Gupta, and Isha Verma, have been employed at jobs of their interests. While Ankita and Isha have secured positions of Assistant Teachers at Bachpan Play School and Umeed Play School respectively, Shantanu has found a job at Shagun Gift Emporium – each of these organizations is managed by Welfare Society, under the guidance of Smt. Nidhi Mahto, President. She took this noble initiative and set an example that more organizations should come forward to recruit the Intellectually Challenged people, who are capable of handling many responsibilities.
All three SVKites are immensely excited for their upcoming professional experiences and also look forward to financial independence. “I am waiting to start my role as a teacher! It excites me the most when I spend my time with younger children, and engage in story-telling with them!” quips Isha happily.
Apart from the beneficiaries themselves, their parents are equally elated to witness their children inching closer to their dreams. Ankita’s mom Rekha Sur is happy to see her daughter becoming independent and managing on her own. While Shantanu’s mom Anupama Gupta is happy that finally, her son got an opportunity to prove his abilities. Further, Isha’s mom, Anudita Verma says, Isha always wanted to be a Teacher and finally her dream is been fulfilled. All of them thanked Gayathri Vatsalya for her belief and able mentorship. They also commended team SVK’s efforts in helping Isha, Shantanu and Ankita realize their potential and achieve their dreams.
Upon receiving the cheerful news of her beneficiaries’ employment, Gayathri Vatsalya, Founder-Director SVK, said “This is brilliant not just for the futures of those who got selected, but also their peers, parents and other employers in this city. When one differently-abled person gets employed and does their best at a job, it also sets a positive and reaffirming precedent to prospective employers and parents to have faith in more differently-abled people. After all, some of the most hard-working and easily grasping people I have seen in my life are people with disabilities. With a little bit of our confidence and some appropriate training, they can turn into some of the best employees you would hire!”
Currently, SVK Shikshan Sanstha has a total of 20 beneficiaries who are regularly trained in communication skills, professional social conduct, basic technical skills (Word, Excel, Paint, etc), and other inter-personal behaviors. Additionally, they are also exposed to art and theater therapy that benefits their motor and emotional capacities. By the end of 2020, SVK hopes to place more of its beneficiaries in jobs of their interests. To collaborate or know more, you may visit their center in Shivaji Nagar (Contact: Gayathri Vatsalya, 9422147380).