Charity in India enhances lives of people with disabilities
By Ivin Roby Paul
After the Second World War, a Pilot from the Royal Air Force from the United Kingdom, distraught, eventually decided to start humanitarian work which would last beyond his lifetime.
One of the youngest commanding officers of the United Kingdom, decorated with the Victoria Cross found himself humbled by the detrimental effects of war and the desire for the same kind of opportunistic life for everyone.
The Cheshire Disability Trust is all about passion for equality in life and it serves more than just a good purpose, specifically serving the physically challenged. CHRIST (Deemed to be University) in collaboration with the Cheshire Disability Trust, aims to upskill the physically challenged in India.
Firstly, to understand the statistics, there’s one specific term – PWD, it stands for Persons with Disability. The most reliable source of data for understanding the scale of Disability nationally is the 2011 Census.
It states that 26.8 million people live with disability in India, out of which, 14.9 million are male and 11.9 million are female. This does not pertain only to the physically challenged.
These are national statistics from more than a decade ago and a lot has changed since then, and steps are being taken to change the attitude of society towards those who are challenged by physical disability.
Here is where ‘The Leonard Cheshire Global Alliance’ steps in, by definition, ‘it is one of the largest pan-disability networks in the world, united by a shared history and a desire to change the attitude toward disability’, according to their website.
They established their presence in India in 1955. The Cheshire Global Alliance has its operations in locations such as the United States of America, East and North Africa, South Africa, West Africa, East Asia and Pacific, South Asia, and Europe.
The Cheshire Disability Trust has various locations for their operation in India. With special focus on a project in Bengaluru, India that aims to empower persons with a physical disability to acquire skills that increase employability for the challenged in organizations, to be on par with other individuals.
In an interview Dr. Girish S., an Associate Professor from the School of Commerce, Finance and Accountancy at CHRIST (Deemed to be University) Bangalore, talks about the Cheshire Disability Trust and the role the University plays in the project through their collaboration.
Striving for equality for the physically challenged
The Cheshire Disability Trust has been operating in India for almost 70 years, and also has 20 residential programs for PWDs (Persons with Disabilities), through Cheshire Homes India. Furthermore, in 2011, it started its first and core program to this day – the Livelihood Resource Centre (LRC).
Its vision was to create a society in which disabled persons “can enjoy themselves and have the opportunity to fulfill their potential.” LRC has several branches in India, one is located in Bengaluru near HAL Road, behind the Leela Palace and is open to visitors.
A particular project taken up by the Trust aims to make physically challenged people able to work in specific sectors such as Banking and Finance. CHRIST (Deemed to be University) contributes to this cause by having professors engage in the teaching process to upskill the physically challenged.
Dr. Girish S. is himself a part of the faculty that works in collaboration with the Trust. He emphasizes on the fact that although persons with challenges are competent enough to get a job in society, they mostly get opportunities to only work in unorganized sectors or in the service sectors.
Through the goodwill and initiative of this Trust, people with disabilities (those with loco-motor disabilities and hearing impairment) are trained. All that they require as a minimum qualification to get trained is a grade 12 (completed or not completed), and a degree which is optional to have.
To train is to enable
The training is online through Zoom. At least 100 hours of online teaching on Zoom is completed for each of the students. Online modules consist of subjects such as English, Quantitative Aptitude, General Awareness, Banking, Fundamentals of Accounting, and accounting technology.
The syllabus meets the requirement for the Banking examinations. Students are usually divided into 4 batches, and each batch consists of around 200 students. So far, 80 -100 students have completed their training.
A majority of the students who attend the training belong to families from rural India. As they have financial constraints, the Trust sponsors their daily expenses for mobile data, travel, accommodation, and other basic necessities.
Once the students complete their training, the University creates opportunities for the students to finding good jobs. There has been significant improvement in the employability status of the students with respect to income as well.
Students have a say in choosing their preferred cities for work and living. The University also helps students to obtain internships.
The benefactors who benefit
“It’s an eye-opening session for our students also…”, Dr. Girish shares his reflection during the interview. For each batch that comes in, there are different student volunteers from CHRIST (Deemed to be University) who belong various courses.
These volunteers actively take part, from 7 in the morning to late in the evening. They help with the physically challenged needs of those individuals who come for training. It is safe to say that it is a pretty life-changing event for any student who chooses to volunteer.
As the interview came to an end, it was clear that this change happens for the betterment of our society. The people actively taking part to contribute and make other people's lives easier and more equitable are a God-given gift and it is not something that is easy.
Aspiring for a society where every person has the same level of equality will take time to achieve, but is an attainable goal.