Sapna and Karthik have one thing in common: autism. They gave a vocal music concert in Tirupati recently, thanks to Chennai-based Prakarmika Vocational Institute’s role in unearthing their talent.
Chinmay Joshi of Mumbai, having multiple disabilities including epilepsy, has turned a block printer on Thamboolam bags.
Radhika of Salem, suffering from brittle bone disease, is good at doll decoration with recycled paper.
Aditya Rao from Mumbai and Addu from Bengaluru, both suffering from autism, are good at making handmade chocolates and artificial jewellery respectively.
Once considered ‘onerous dependents’ in view of the nature of their disability and also the long term support involved, they are now welcome everywhere.
The transformation came after Gayatri Narasimhan, founder of Prakarmika, volunteered to reach out to such needy people to not only make them independent, but also integrate them into the society.
A resident of Muscat, Ms. Gayatri recently visited Tirupati when she interacted with The Hindu on the programs extended to the deprived sections.
In fact, she roped in the services of such children as orchestra singers and event managers in her family wedding, just to showcase their talent to the outside world.
“We offer three kinds of support, viz., vocational for those who can eke out a living on their own, academic to make them lettered, and three, skill development to those having the zeal to excel in their chosen areas of excellence”, says Ms. Gayatri.
It all started in 2010, when she found it difficult to teach ninth standard lesson to a girl with autism. Her struggle ended in the realisation on the need to bridge the gap by devising an institutional mechanism.
“This led to the birth of our Prakarmika”, she explains. The institute, having ISO 9001 certificate for skill courses, offers certified programs to impart skills that can place the learners in employable positions. Finding the need to train the trainers, she travelled all the way to Lucknow and Kozhikode to offer training to parents and social activists working in the arena.
As several institutions for special children operate independently in the absence of a uniform curriculum, the lack of coherence, and lopsided goals are quite conspicuous in their functioning. Recently, Ms. Gayatri prepared a detailed curriculum and is waiting for the government to respond.