What happens to those who cross the age limit of 21 years? Having spent more than 10 years in the school it is traumatizing for the children to stay at home. It is also troublesome for the parents. Early in the evolution of our institution, we decided that we would not let our children go through this experience just because government aid is not available after a certain age. We therefore set up two workshops one under the government aid and the other funded by the institution. ‘Sheltered Workshop’ of Astitvaschool, set up in 1986 was the first Govt. recognized section in Thane district. Since then students have seamlessly moved from the school to the sheltered workshop and then on to the normal workshop. Once a child is admitted to Astitva, he or she stays with us for as long as the situation permits.

The concept & philosophy of the ‘Sheltered workshop’ & ‘Workshop’ was originated by Dr. Suresh Adkar and implemented by late Shri. Major Kale. He worked with zeal & total dedication, implementing various programs at school. He insisted on sharing the profits of these programs with the mentally disabled children working in various departments. The remuneration of each child is given to the respective parents in Diwali & on 31st March every year.

Rehabilitation of the Mentally Disabled

Due to the limitations on the school education, in case of the mentally disabled, vocational training proves to be of immense importance. Considering the liking & the ability of the disabled student, he can be provided theoretical as well as practical training of a particular profession. The students, after training, can engage themselves in activities like making envelopes, card board boxes, Book binding, stitching, knitting etc. In group activities, they can make chalks, candles, incense sticks etc. 

These ‘Workshops’ play a very important role, imparting vocational training to the disabled. By empowering them to be productively engaged, they also help their parents in a small way by sharing the financial burden. Instead of depending on the organization always, we believe that the parents can form their groups, unite the children & become partners to our institution. In future we may have industrial establishments run by these children & their parents and start some activity of any vocation on their own.

In the ‘Sheltered Workshops’, different groups of students are formed on the basis of their I.Q., liking & ability. Doing the same work for a considerable period of time, the students develop specialization. Unlike normal people, these students do not experience the monotony of doing the same work. We ensure that each student develop specialization in at least one product. It is our experience that students grow more confident when they see that they too can contribute to the society.It is generally easier for the Deaf & Dumb to become be self-sufficient than it is for the mentally disabled.

We are very proud that one of our alumni is now working as caretaker in our hostel. 18 of them are earning their livelihoods by working in shops and factories.

The disabled students need to be taught self-sufficiency, working without any dependence on others, punctuality, understanding the clock, knowledge of the surroundings, some day to day routines etc. It is a time consuming process for the disabled to learn & understand the things. But with regular practice, they learn these things.

We provide vocational training in the Sheltered Workshop whereas various items of daily use are made in the normal Workshop. We try to maintain good quality and ensure that the children making these products are healthy & hygienic & use proper accessories such as aprons and masks. Our foods section has the approval of the Food & Drugs Administration, Thane District. The following are the different divisions in our Sheltered workshop & Workshop.

Household work division

Edible products like spices, supari, papad etc. are made in this division. The work is divided in different students as per their ability. All the training is given ……. like identifying the raw material, handling of goods, Baking, Grinding, Cutting, Counting . The students are given training to use various utensils like mixer, grinder, gas, sewing machine, knife, scissors etc.

Sewing training

Knowing the sewing machine, handling, taking care of the machine, changing the needle etc. is taught in this division. The students are trained to stitch, bags, apron, fancy bags, purses etc.

Handicraft training: Rakhis, Sky lamps, Greeting cards etc.

Box making: Boxes of various sizes, Ofiice files, Dusters, Envelopes, Paper bags etc.

Making Candles & Chalks: Sieving the chalk powder, measuring the water, Melting the wax, filling the moulds, Drying & Packing. Decoration candles are in great demand in festive season.

Making Idols: Soaking the soil, Filling the moulds, Finishing the idols, Coloring, Drying & Packing of the idols.

In spite of a legal provision to reserve 3% jobs in Government, it is seldom found in reality. The parents of the disabled should insist & fight for the same.

Every year, The President of India felicitates the organization that provides for maximum jobs to the disabled. The Indian Railways are taking the position of pride for a number of years. The President also annually felicitates 25 disabled people who, combating the disability successfully, provide an inspiration to the others.

Last year a unique event was organized. Entrepreneurs in Dombivli were invited to this event and we solicited their help in seeking job opportunities for our students. Shri.Saheta of Connectwell group offered jobs to two students of Astitva. Other entrepreneurs also showed a favourable attitude.

The rehabilitation of the disabled is difficult but not impossible. The Government, other local organizations, private banks, schools, hospitals, shops etc. need to travel that extra mile to accommodate them in their organizations. For doing so, instead of sacrifice, we need an awareness of the problems, empathy towards the disabled and a proactive approach.

A list of jobs and activities that the disabled can do

Considering their ability, the disabled children can carry on the following activities.

1.    Painting; Making rakhis, greeting cards, garlands, lanterns, flowers; Beauticianetc

2.    Knitting, stitching, weaving etc.

3.    Making files, candles, stationery, boxes and such items

4.    Liftman, Laundryman, Office boy, Security guard, Carwash, Hair cutting, Housekeeping, Hostel Caretaker, Helper in a restaurant

5.    Carpentry work, Mobile & watch repairing, Gardening, Helping an electrician

6.    Making food products such as papad and masala

List of government jobs for which 3% reservation is applicable can be found in the following link