If you were a disabled person what is that one thing you would always pray for? That your disability be taken away, right? Now, what could be the next best thing you could pray for? That despite your disability, you be able to live as normal a life as possible, isn’t it? Well, that’s exactly what NASEOH, a 40-year old Mumbai-based nonprofit strives to do for the disabled people it works for. So, from providing wheelchairs/tricycles to make the physically disabled mobile to physiotherapy for the severely disabled to vocational training and job placement to help them earn a living – they cover the entire spectrum of activities that would help a disabled person live as independent a life as possible.
What I found interesting is that they manufacture wheelchairs and tricycles at their Chembur-based center itself. This serves the dual purpose of providing the same at a low rate to other nonprofits as well as providing employment to the disabled – who themselves man this center. Like 30-year-old Jagdish who has been working there for a few years now. He himself was given a tricycle from NASEOH that helps him commute on his own from his home to Chembur everyday. He lost mobility in his legs at a young age. While he is currently working at NASEOH’s wheelchair/tricycle-manufacturing center, the team is on the lookout for a better placement for him; one that would preferably help him earn more than the Rs. 1,500 he currently earns at NASEOH.
Considerable thought and effort goes into placing the differently-abled in a vocation that’s most suited to overcome their disability. So, for example, those with weaker lower limbs are trained in pottery or welding and those who suffer from a mental rather than physical disability are given gardening or tailoring skills (and paired with someone when it comes to giving them a job). In a really smart move, NASEOH has tied up with Eureka Forbes and set up their up their inbound call centre on the NASEOH premises itself. This 5,000 square foot modern facility has especially been designed for people with physical disabilities & aims to facilitate integration of their abilities into the mainstream of society.
After just 20 days of rigorous training that involves sharpening their communication skills, special coaching in English, voice modulation and a thorough familiarization with the company’s products, personnel at this center are ready to take upon their new role. Like Seema Dwivedi, whose right leg was badly affected because of Polio when she was four. Her parents have always been worried about her future. But today, this thirty-year-old is gainfully employed and confidently taking customers’ calls at EuroAble.
It’s no surprise then to find self-confidence and a sense of achievement oozing at this colorful center. Done up in bright yellows, greens and blues, the workstations and aisles are bigger than in other offices, and the floor is carpeted, so that crutches and wheelchairs won’t slip. The center also boasts of a 90%+ retention rate.
Ask Seema about her marriage plans and she says cheerfully: “Yes, that is a possibility, but before that I want to save enough, build up a good portfolio and have my own house. I don’t know if I will find the right man. Marriage is such a gamble anyway, and I am handicapped. If he leaves me, I should have something to fall back upon. I would never want to be totally dependent on him.”
This clearly takes empowerment and independence to the core.