2.21% of the Indian population has one or the other kind of disability. This means 26.8 million people in India have a disability. Despite making up a considerable fraction of society, disabled persons are often mocked, humiliated, and disregarded by society all around the world. This results in disabled people often becoming a silent part of society, shoved away and practically hidden. With the lack of respect and regard, it is almost impossible for disabled persons to secure a job and make a decent income, as they face discrimination from employers and companies who are unwilling to hire disabled persons on the false notion of them being incapable of work.
According to a report by the market intelligence firm, Unearthinsight, around 10 million of people with disability in India are employable but only 47,498 are employed (as of 2021). They claim that the right policies and strategic shifts can enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities in India.
An organization, aware of this disregarded talent pool in India, has been working since 1979 to ensure that disabled persons have access to socio-economic rehabilitation. Based in the primary business, commercial, and financial hub of eastern India’s Kolkata, this organization consists of state-of-the-art facilities comprising a workshop, and an institute where the physically or mentally challenged are given vocational training. This way they receive training so they can speak up for their rights and become valuable parts of their local communities and society.
Handmade| Upcycled | Highly durable| Candles burn soot-free| Quality handwork with attention to detail | Made by people with disabilities
All products are made under one unit. The raw material for the products is mainly sourced from the local market.
Wood products are made with small scrap wood pieces from local timber merchants. The type of wood available depends on the scraps in the local wood recycling market. Usually, pine, mango, neem, and padauk are available.
Paper mache is made with paper pulp from local recycled paper. Candles are made using soy wax or coconut wax sourced from within India. Coconut wax is a clean burning wax made from coconuts growing abundantly in central and south India. Coconut wax for candle making is always mixed with a small part of soy wax and paraffin wax for it to have the right properties. This is kept to a minimum. The waxes can be mixed with natural essential oils to create fragrance candles.
The products are a mix of handmade and machine work. About 85% of the workers are disabled persons and take part in all parts of the organization. As a long-term member of World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) they comply with strict fair trade principles and ensure complete transparency in the production processes.
Wood is cut and carved under strict health and safety standards and risk prevention procedures by trained artisans. Paper mache is formed by hand before it's hand-painted in the workshop. Candle wax is heated and formed into various shapes.
Not only do they provide training, economic independence, and a sense of self-accomplishment to people with disabilities, through the production of fair trade products, they also help differently-abled students to gain University-curriculum training. Some of the courses offered are; Fine Arts, Commercial Art, Computer Graphic Design, Leather Craft, Silk Screen Printing, etc. All the courses they provide are free of cost and students are given a monthly stipend. They are then offered job placements and most students go on to become teachers for the differently abled children earning remuneration from their respective universities.
Products are handmade requiring less energy and fewer carbon footprints are produced compared to items made on mass-production lines. By using scraps and recycled materials, CO2 and other pollution are prevented.
UN Sustainable Development goal
By creating hand-made products and using upcycled and mainly renewable materials this project contributes to target 12.2; "achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources"
Disabled persons are empowered through the employment offered and income generated. The vocational training given at their institute helps them develop and enhance their professional skills. Employment and training give encouragement to disabled persons to become contributing members of the society they live in and give them the respect and regard they deserve.
UN Sustainable Development Goal
By building an institute focused on vocational training and enhancement of professional skills, this project contributes to target 4.a; "Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all indicators"
By contributing to providing livelihoods to the disabled persons community and increasing their job prospects, this project contributes to target 8.5; "achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value"
By focusing on the socio-economic rehabilitation and development of disabled persons and encouragement of them to become contributing members of mainstream society, this project contributes to target 10.2; "empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status"
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