Sunday, July 15, 2007

Where there is a will there is a way!

I was actively participating in Koshish (Corporate Social Responsibility initiative) of my company.To be frank I was not passionate about social service.I became a member just because I got some free time.As part of it I was associated with PAWMENCAP (Parents Association for the Welfare of Mentally Handicapped Persons).If interested to know more about the organization please visit my Y!geocities tentatively.We are planning to create separate domain for it.

My sister decided to donate some part of her salary for getting a job. I suggested her this organization. We visited it today. The person behind this organization Mr.MushtaqAli talked to us.The conversation with this man made me feel that, "I am doing nothing compared to the work these people are doing".I read their reports,ads etc., while preparing the website but I was not moved much.After talking to some of the MR (Mentally Retarded) students on the day of website inauguration I moved a little.But today after talking to this man I really felt for these people.

This organization contains 175 students and 36 teachers.It concentrates on MR people of different age groups.The teachers are trained by National institute for mentally handicapped (NIMH).Some of them have been struggling for these people for the past 17 years.They deserve standing ovation.

The problem is that an MR person cannot coordinate various parts of his body as normal people do.These people are not MAD.Madness is a kind of sickness but MR is a disability.They need patient and rigorous training (similar to the training given by prof.Sahay to Michell in the movie BLACK).That is why I appreciate the teachers.

In the past, parents used to feel shame of having such children.In remote places these people were locked in a room forever.Thanks to the organizations like PAWMENCAP, now parents realized that they can be trained and their behaviour can be modified.

The training methods are amazing.They put the person to various tests like asking them to clean themselves(brushing etc.,), fetching eggs from the shop so on.They cannot adapt themselves to a small change in their surrounding environment because their mind gets disturbed a lot when the environment changes.So they need lot of training on the minutest of the activities which might seem ridiculous to normal people.For ex:- Brushing teeth involves (1)Identifying brush (He/She should be able to identify whether he/she is using the right object for the job of brushing.) (2)Hold the brush. (3)Place it on teeth. (4)Move it to and fro ....By now you might have understood the way in which they need the training.This organization also conducts training to the parents and the siblings of these people as they play very important role in their life.Mr.Ali says that they can do only 50% rest depends on the parents and siblings as the person spends most of his time at home( a different environment for him/her from the school).

Thanks to God!PAWMENCAP is reaping the fruits of their efforts but with a great difficulty.They trained these people in candle making,notebook making,service-offering,house-hold activities like cooking (especially for girls etc.,Some of them are earning because of the skills they developed here.Mr.Ali narrated some of his experiences.He says that focus should be on service-offering jobs as making products involves marketing.Marketing is naturally followed by competition.In this competitive environment who would go for the candles prepared by this people?So they shifted their focus to service-oriented training like ironing,stamping/sorting (postoffice) etc.,

One of the experiences is as follows -->Two MR persons were trained for two years to stamp and sort out letters based on the place of destination.They were trained so well ,specially in different environments,that they can do the job with 0% error.Unfortunately the superintendent of the postoffice refused to admit them.On insisting him ,he put them to test.He was taken aback to their work.But he employed them for just Rs15/- a day.The PM from the head office saw these boys.He was surprised at their work.He reprimanded the superintendent and offered Rs75/- per day which is normal payscale.There are many such experiences.

Mr.Ali has got a vision for his work.He thought How Long?One thing is for sure these people can never be made normal.No medicine is invented till now.Who will take care of them after their parents?For that he thought of a corpus fund which is some 10 crores.The monthly interest proceeds of this fund will support this people, infact their new project called Saans a Respite Care Center for Mentally Challenged Persons.

They have been trying a lot.They almost lost the hopes.Then a door opened!Mr.Ali consulted a person who is expert in getting funds for such organisations.He coolly said 10 crores is not a big deal.You people got 18 years relentless effort which is invaluable.So let us build upon it.Get 32AC You are done. 32AC, it is a section under under which you will get 100% income tax exemption.Bases upon their worth they will certainly get it.If they approach a philantrophist ( a VC in business terms) , they can certainly get the fund.There is one such successful story in Jalgaon(Maharashtra)where the old-age home got the fund that it didnt even imagine.

This conversation changed my perspective.Never lose hope! Where there is a will there is a way.

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