Thursday, December 16, 2010

Enabling the Disabled in India

We'd like to thank Indira Govindan for sharing this touching blog post with us.

Beading and Stringing at the Workshop
During my trip to India in March 2010, I did a workshop on jewelry making to a group of physically challenged girls at the Andhra Mahila Sabha. These girls are victims of childhood polio, one of the last groups of children, before polio was officially eradicated in India a decade ago. 

These young women are not only physically challenged but also economically disadvantaged. Organizations such as the Andhra Women provide them with vocational training in book binding, sewing, computer software, which is their path to economic independence. Occasionally, someone like me will come along and teach them something that is fun. Which woman can say no to jewelry?

The workshop was sponsored by Sukriti Social Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by my sister, Sowmya Simhan, who too was stricken with polio at the age of two. She is highly educated with a career in accounting, and her foundation provides a wide range of services and programs to physically disabled men and women and, collaborates with other organizations that provide similar services.

Since I knew that these girls would not be able to buy the materials for jewelry, I took with me all of the materials from my personal stash. Sowmya felt that these girls could use some help in understanding the use of colors and design principles.  So, I made a color wheel for them. I also took several issues of Bead Style magazine with me.

I did the workshop for two evenings after their day class was over. About fifteen girls, ranging from age 12 to 18, participated. The girls were charming and were quick learners. I taught them to make the wrapped loop and showed them how to use the color wheel. I gave each one a kit for a pair of earrings and a necklace and they were quite thrilled when they found out that they get to keep what they had made. The chorus of “thank you auntie” at the end was touching. I donated a whole bag of beads, wire, the color wheel and a toolbox to the girls.

It is unlikely that the girls would ever be able to go into jewelry making business. They do not have the means. However, teaching them the techniques and, giving them the materials would enable them to make things to sell at craft shows. This condition applies to any skill they are taught. It is not enough to just teach them a skill. To enable them to use it gainfully, they also have to be provided the tools and the materials. Hence, organizations such as Sukriti, raise funds to buy them computers, sewing machines, school supplies and so on. I try to do my tiny bit. All proceeds from sales from my shop are donated to Sukriti Foundation.

More information about its work can be found at and  Facebook

Sowmya, the founder of Sukriti, is being honored with Ascendas Award for service

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1 comment:

  1. Indira, when next you visit India and teach please let me know. I have beads for you to take to the girls.



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Artist,Writer, Jewelry Design