A team of youngsters from Bengaluru is empowering differently abled people by finding them jobs and helping them lead a dignified life. The youngsters, volunteering with the NGO GiftAbled, have touched many lives over the years and created opportunities to transform the lives of the disabled.
GiftAbled was founded by Prarthana Unkalkar Kaul. Before venturing out to work with the differently abled, she was employed with IBM for two years. During her stint with the IT major, she taught a visually impaired student, but that was only during weekends.
Soon, she realised that she required more time than just weekends to work with underprivileged sections of society. She immediately resigned from IBM and started working on social causes, primarily with volunteers. In 2013, she started GiftAbled, which was funded by her husband in its initial days.
Ms Kaul told Deccan Chronicle, “In some people’s perception, disability is unattractive. But whether a disability is visible or invisible, people with a disability can be fabulously attractive at so many levels. We need to consider them as normal human beings. So we at GiftAbled work to empower people with disability and create an ecosystem of like-minded individuals to collectively build an inclusive society.”
To provide livelihood opportunities to the differently abled, GiftAbled volunteers have successfully found jobs for over 500 disabled people in different companies, besides creating awareness among the people to break the myth and stigma surrounding disability.
“As per the latest census data, of over two crore differently abled people in the country, hardly 1 per cent are meaningfully employed. We often find a disabled person holding an MBA degree working as a mere cashier or a clerk in some small organisation. GiftAbled provides vocational and skill-development training to specially-abled adults. Products made by them are marketed to corporate organisations and general public. This is a platform to create an opportunity for the disabled, not out of sympathy, but empathy. We are happy because parents of disabled children are happy that they have started earning.” Ms Kaul said.
GiftAbled has over 500 volunteers and is also engaged with other non-profit organisations working in the disability sector. It imparts skill-based training to the members of other NGOs, and often sources finished products from them. To sensitise the public about disability, the NGO offers unique, fun-filled workshops, like Myths on Disability, Intro to Sign Language and Braille, the correct way to speak and interact with people with disability and many others.
Ms Kaul said that her dream is to reach all parts of the country. “Right now, GiftAbled is based in Bengaluru, and this year, we started a free therapy centre in Tumkur for physically-challenged children from low-income families. We are now trying to reach all over the state. We have earlier conducted a few programmes in neighbouring states too, and in future, we are planning to set up our centres in all parts of the country. With a team of energetic young people, who are ready to work any time, I am sure that GiftAbled will soon spread its wings.”
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