A festive atmosphere reigned at the Sweekar Upkaar complex in Secunderabad as people from different walks of life thronged the Abilities Mela - 2010 on Saturday.

In its fourth year, the mela saw different NGOs, government organisations and companies working with persons with disabilities (pwd) come together to set up stalls. While some sold wares like imitation and bead jewellery, candles, garments, greeting cards, bags, soft toys and showpieces crafted by pwds, there were some booths that sold medical equipment and others that sought to spread awareness.

Cricketer V.V.S. Laxman and chairperson of National Trust Poonam Natrajan who were the chief guests inaugurated the two-day event.

Although it was a communion of sorts for persons with disabilities, anticipation was high in the air too.

Job opportunities

The event brought together some corporates and pwds and qualified job hunters left no stone unturned in impressing prospective employers. The companies would assess candidates and offer suitable employment, said COO, Mahindra Satyam Foundation, B.C. Kumar. “Companies are also coming forward to recruit persons with disabilities. We are also sensitising our HR teams,” he said.

Objectives

One of our jobs is to see how we can change the mindset of people and sensitise them on disability issues, said Ms. Natrajan. “This mela is actually a place where people get opportunities to showcase their talent and skills and be admired by the people who come here,” said Mr. Laxman.

The three objectives of the mela are to provide job opportunities for qualified pwds, facilitate self employment opportunities and financial assistance for those who do not have adequate qualifications, and provide access to markets, livelihoods and mobility by marketing their products, IAS officer Jayesh Ranjan, managing trustee, LSN Foundation that organised the event, said.

The inaugural event also served as a platform for some pwds to share their success stories. “I always thought I should not depend on anyone but be in a position to help others,” said Tulasi, an employee of HMRI. “Today, I am in a position to look after my parents,” she said proudly.

Founder-Chairman of Sweekaar-Upkaar Hanumanth Rao and Founder-Chairman of Devnar Foundation for the Blind Dr. A. Saibaba Goud were among those present.

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