As you enter our Sambhav Foundation premises in Vijayanagar, Bengaluru, you are greeted with beautiful smiles and welcome gestures from a number of ‘special’ students, both young and not so young. These students are a part of ‘Saadhya’ program of the Foundation which is an initiative of LabourNet, where ‘Saadhya’ means ‘making things possible’. These differently-abled students, with mental age far less as compared to their physical age, are taught to accomplish something and support themselves through vocational and classroom training. In this guest article Dr. Gayathri Vasudevan, CEO, LabourNet, seeks community support to sustain the self-help initiatives through purchase of diyas.
Sambhav Foundation nurtures lives, enables livelihoods for the differently-abled and socio-economically deprived individuals, bring them into the mainstream and help them live a dignified life. Majority of the students who attend this day program come from underprivileged families, where the father is either an auto driver or a vegetable vendor and mother a garment factory worker or maid.
Vocational Training makes these ‘special’ children, self-reliant
Once, Mahatma Gandhi, stressing on the importance of vocational training and skill development, had said ‘Taken as a whole, a vocation or vocations are the best medium for the all-round development of a boy or a girl and therefore the syllabus should be woven round vocational training, primary education, thus conceived as a whole is bound to be self-supporting.’ This is the very philosophy, we at Sambhav Foundation also believe in. Mentally challenged students at our vocational training program are provided with emotional support, encouragement and required guidance to sharpen their latent talent.
They are taught to paint and make diyas besides making of candles, phenyl, liquid soap, paper covers, jewellery and vegetable cutting, among many others. Before putting the students on any of these programs, an initial level assessment test is administered, which assesses social, motor, language and self-help skills, and only post that, they are given specific skills’ training based on their interest and ability.
Community support by purchasing these ‘diyas’ will go a long way!
To make these students enjoy a sustainable livelihood in the long run, the market for these diyas should be established, where the larger community purchases these diyas. This will make them economically independent and thus contribute their bit to the society. When the talent of these students are recognized, then they are seen as an asset and not a liability in our socioeconomic structure. These students are also very hardworking, meticulous and loyal too! It is seen over the time, their productivity increases as they begin to enjoy what they are doing and will stay on in the same job for a longer period.
To purchase the diyas, write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Learning-by-doing – ‘diya making’ teaches other concepts too
When our students are taught how to make diyas, which they seem to obviously enjoy, our teachers actually teach them many required concepts.
Empty mud diyas, bought in bulk and are collected by students and carefully brought to the wiping table, where they are wiped to ensure the extra loose mud is not present. While wiping, their fine motor skills are developed, they learn to differentiate between clean and dirty ones and learn to stack them without breaking, thereby learning the safety concept.
Their gross motor skills are developed when the students transfer diyas to the painting table and take orders from the teacher. It is a beautiful sight to watch some of these students painting the diyas with water colours of pink, golden and copper! Here, they gradually learn to increase their speed in painting more numbers as days go by. Concepts such as colour, size, shapes, wet and dry are learnt. They also know to review their own work and reapply the paint wherever necessary.
Once the paint has been dried, they transfer the painted diyas to the wax-pouring table. Here sorting and arranging the diyas are done according to the design and size. They prepare the wick stand, by cutting the wicks to the relevant length, place it in a ball which is again prepared by them by mixing maida flour and fevicol. Here, fine motor skills such as cutting, measurements to mix the gum for the wick stand, making the balls as per required size are all learnt. They also are able to check the consistency of the mixture and the concept of the centre of the diya when fixing the wick stand.
Then under teacher’s supervision they prepare the wax by heating, add colours sometimes and pour the wax into the diyas, and learn hand eye co-ordination while doing this.
While packing completed diyas, 2 in a box, they learn to match a pair and other cognition aspects of colour, design shape and size are again established. By pasting stickers and price tag on each box, they learn the concept of money, besides, hand-eye co-ordination, stacking and arranging. Finally, by loading and unloading to and from the large carton boxes, students’ gross motor skills are developed.
In addition to these, social skills of working as a team, personal skills of discipline, cleanliness, safety and responsibility are all imbibed in the children.
When students interact with each other, follow instructions of supervisors, ask the inventory team for more materials, exhibit the right behaviour within the team, etc., their communication skills are fine-tuned and finally the concept of accomplishment or ‘Saadhya’ is learnt as well!
About the author: Dr Gayathri Vasudevan, CEO, LabourNet