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No beating about the bush.
Umed Pariwar of Pune works for the welfare of those affected by disabilities like mental retardation and cerebral palsy
“The year was 1990. A group of parents like us used to go to KEM Hospital for the treatment of our children. Frustrated, helpless, we really wanted a way out for our children and for ourselves. That is when the idea of starting a cooperative centre was born. Our objective was to provide total care to children (like ours) including prevention, early intervention, training, education, re-training, research and total rehabilitation. There was no point in hoping that the government would do something,” recalls Rajendra Nahar, a founder trustee of Umed Pariwar.
What began with just periodic meetings of parents of differently-abled children gradually grew into an active association of parents. It then morphed into Umed Pariwar with the original group of parents as its founder trustees. Initially, it was more of a residential vocational training centre. Over the years, there has been recognition of the NGO’s efforts. Umed Pariwar was awarded ‘The Best Parents Association in India’ in 1996, by Rehabilitation Council of India. Mr Nahar proudly says, “We have rallied support on all-India basis and got ‘Mentally Challenged’ included in Income Tax Act Section 80DD for the benefit of parents of such special children.”
In the past 24 years, Umed Pariwar’s activities for rehabilitation of mentally challenged persons include: holding medical camps, annual drawing competition, conferences related to issues faced by these children and various other events and celebrations.
Umed Pariwar’s vision is to provide world-class infrastructure for total rehabilitation of mentally handicapped and cerebral palsy persons, to give them their rightful status in society and to improve their quality of life through research, training and re-training.
Its most ambitious project is Arvind Saurabh– literally translated, it means to lotus fragrance. It is a residential rehabilitation centre/ facility spread over 10 acres in Pune that will eventually accommodate over 100 differently-abled individuals. The land was donated by Madhuritai Chitale and family. The centre will have facilities like workshops, therapy centres, special area for recreational and sporting activities, hydrotherapy centre and amphitheatre. It will cater to the children through their lives, even after the parents are no more.
The total funds requirement for Arvind Saurabh is Rs9 crore of which Rs2.50 crore is for the first phase. Of this, Umed Pariwar has already completed work costing Rs2 crore.
Donations are being collected for the remaining Rs50 lakh to complete the balance work.
Its website lists the many ways in which you can contribute to this wonderful project, in cash or kind, including help set up rainwater harvesting, a laundry, donate books, games, toys, biogas plant, security systems, DG sets, windmills, inverters, etc. You can also help by campaigning for Umed Pariwar, sponsoring an event and volunteering.
As for the mind-set of the differently-abled individuals and their parents, Mr Nahar explains, “A dream you dream alone is only a dream, a dream you dream together is a reality. We dreamt together 22 years ago and it is slowly taking shape in the form of Umed Pariwar. As the name rightly suggests, we are a pariwar or family—caring, nurturing, supporting and giving umed or hope to people who are differently-abled. Our community comprises individuals, who have limitations in their lives but not in their dreams. Challenges that come, big and small, do not stop them from making the best of life.”
Donors will get tax deduction benefit under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act. You can plant a sapling in the name of a loved one as part of the Chaitraban project. Or you can spread the word!
"Shanti Complex", Flat No.4, 2nd Floor, 428/B,
New Mangalwar Peth, Narpatgiri Chowk, Pune - 411 011
Email: [email protected]
Akshara helps with the two main ways that empower women
Fear and social restraints have held back women of all ages over the centuries. These restrict their education, choice of work, mobility, political participation and expression.
Without education and skills, they end up living life that is incomplete and dependent.
Akshara is a Mumbai-based, non-profit, women’s rights organisation and resource centre that works at empowering women to achieve their true potential. It was founded by
Dr Nandita Gandhi and Dr Nandita Shah who were active in the contemporary feminist movement in the 1980s. Akshara started in 1995 as a resource centre for collecting gender-based material and data for students and activists. It moved on to designing safety programmes for young women and men. One of its strategic goals is to work with young people.
Akshara thinks it is essential to understand the issues and views of this large segment of 430 million Indians in the age group of 15 to 34 years because the country is at the cusp of a social transformation. Akshara asked itself: Can we give a helping hand to young women and train men to be allies in the struggle for equality?
Since 2008, Akshara’s “Empowering Dreams Programme” uses a three-way strategy: to locate the most deserving poor girls in slums to give them financial assistance for completing their education; to introduce them to gender rights so that they can protect themselves from violence and, lastly, provide them with livelihood skills so they can be financially independent. One of the many successful graduates of the programme, Uma, said, “The most important thing I have learnt in the last two years is survival skills. I have learnt to stand up for myself and make my own decisions. I don’t need others to decide for me.” Every year, Akshara engages with about 150 underprivileged girls in two municipal wards around the Gender Resource Centre at Elphinston Road West (Mumbai).
Akshara’s “Youth for Change Programme” aims to engage young men as allies in supporting gender equality and for prevention of violence against women. It works with youth who have joined the social service units of their colleges and takes them on ‘safety walks’. This gives training by experience on safety related to sexual harassment. It takes up advocacy to prevent harassment in colleges and their neighbourhoods. After attending one of Akshara’s workshops, Sagar realised the need to help his mother with housework, something he had never done before. Another trainee said, “As men, it is our duty to prevent sexual harassment. How would I feel if my sister was harassed? I would not want someone else’s sister to suffer.The safety audits helped in making my college safe.”
Akshara believes that it is important to campaign not just at the individual level but also at the city level, to prevent violence against women. Akshara’s “Safe City Programme” works with the Police (with which it has assisted in setting up the 103 emergency helpline for women), and with BEST (by training conductors to prevent sexual harassment by commuters). In December 2013, the chief minister of Maharashtra acknowledged Akshara’s petition containing 30,000 signatures for a comprehensive action plan for Mumbai, saying: “A copy of the comprehensive action plan should be sent to the chief secretary and each department involved should revert on which of the recommendations they can initiate action on.”
Akshara’s future plans are for pursuing its vision of a free, equal and just society for men and women. Akshara has been raising its funds through individual donations, donor agencies and corporate houses and donations from readers are welcome.
Neelambari, 5th Floor, Road No. 86, Opp Portuguese Church, Gokhale Road,
Dadar (West), Mumbai - 400028, INDIA. Tel: (022) 24316082.
Email: [email protected]