A recent job fair in Coimbatore enabled the disabled to explore employment options just like anyone else

“All through life, I believed the more I studied the more privileged I would become. I have been studying my entire life. Why is it hard for me to get a job?” asks A. Murukesh as his wife Mahalaxmi takes his crutches and helps him into a chair. He is at the at Dr. G.R.Damodaran College of Science for the job fair for the differently-abled. Murukesh has two Masters degrees — an MBA and an M.Com — yet he remains unemployed. He also completed his B.ed course this year. He is waiting for the results. He resigned from his last teaching job as the salary could not sustain him and his family. He has often been denied jobs because of his condition and the fact that many of the workplaces did not have ramps, added to his difficulty.

Great opportunity

But he is excited about the job fair. “It is a great opportunity for us. I have been short listed for two jobs. Since I am good at maths both are accountancy related jobs.”

Job fair 2012 for the “Differently Abled” that was held recently in the city was a joint venture of GRD School of social Work, DEAF LEADERS, AttitudeTrust, Coimbatore and District Differently Abled Welfare office with the cooperation of District Employment exchange office of Coimbatore.

Over 40 companies participated in the event, including companies such as Chennai Silks, Indo shell Mount Ltd, Diamex diamonds and KV Tex.

The inaugural function of the fair begins on a solemn note. A student volunteer sings “There shall be showers of blessings” and Renuka Rameshan, the interpreter translates this into sign language; several hands rise up in the air to show solidarity. A different kind of applause that is silent yet powerful fills the hall.

K. Lakshmi Narayan the placement and training director, says he has tried to bring as many corporates as possible to the job fair this year. He says, “Campus recruits are unreliable as they switch jobs in months. Students do not know the value of a job whereas people here do. They are much more sincere about their job.”

The right attitude

Indo Shell Mould Ltd had 200 vacancies, out of which 160 were filled by the differently abled from the job fair. Managing director E.R. Vincent Paul says, “We are not looking only people holding certificates. We need people with the right attitude who are sincere and open to learning new skills.”

Almost 400 people from different parts of South India have come in the hope of getting a job. The hall fills with lively, yet soundless conversations. Many share their anxieties, crack jokes, pull each other’s legs, all in sign language.

K.Murali the head of DEAF LEADERS in Coimbatore says how difficult it is for the differently-abled to find employment. “The government has set up institutions to teach sign language. However, nothing substantial is being done for employment.”

Sharbak, a hearing disabled girl speaks of her experience working at a printing shop. Her salary was very low and she was made to do the household chores at the owner’s house. When the interpreter asks her what her interests are, Sharbak’s eyes light up. She loves to model, she signs.

“She was Miss Deaf Coimbatore,” explains Renuka. So does she see herself as a fashion designer in future? There are furious signs once again. “Why can’t I? People might say a lot of things. But that will not stop me from being an achiever.” Translation is needless. Sharbak’s expression says it all.

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