Persons with disabilities (PWDs) at the Lokvishwas Pratisthan’s Kavlem school are being taught vocational skills that are making them employable
reports RAHUL CHANDAWARKAR
Believe it or not, but a small group of persons with disabilities (PWDs) from the Lokvishwas Pratisthan’s school for special youth in Kavlem handles all the printing needs of several Lokvishwas Pratisthan institutes across the State.
Ensconced in a tiny bungalow on the foothills of the Kavlem village, this printing press run by PWDs is churning out letter heads, cash vouchers, invite cards and bill books with zest and alacrity.
Twenty-three-year old Akash Naik smiles from ear to ear when he says, “I love working in the printing press, as we can print many items and are always busy.”
The good news is that a few factories and companies have taken note of the printing capabilities of the Lokvishwas Pratisthan PWDs.
“We have recently received envelope orders from two large companies. This is very encouraging for our PWD youth,” beams instructor Rupesh Naik.
The Lokvishwas Pratisthan like many special schools across Goa run vocational units which provide job oriented skills to PWD youth to enhance their employability.
There are a total of 31 youth ( 24 men and 7 ladies) residents of neighbouring Madkai, Kundai, Ponda and Shiroda regions of Goa who attend this school from 8 am to 1.30 pm, six days a week. Besides screen printing, the youth are also taught to make decorative items for festivals like Diwali, Christmas and Ganesh, raakhis, small bracelets, newspaper bags and decorative flowers from paper.
On my visit to the school, I was pleasantly surprised to see the enthusiasm and energy with which the PWD youth were engrossed in the screen printing activity.
“Our ultimate aim is to get some of these youth employed in offices and factories close to their homes,” said Naik.
According to him, the school had made serious attempts to employ three youth at the state-run foodgrain godown in Ponda recently. “Our boys worked hard and learned the ropes of weighing and packing foodgrain etc. However, their parents gradually pulled them out of the jobs. We will need to counsel these parents more,” Naik said.
On a brighter note however, the raakhis and Diwali decorations made by the PWD youth has kept the school cash registers ringing. Adopting an extremely innovative sales strategy, the school set up small stalls inside ten, supportive schools in Ponda city. The raakhis registered gross sales of Rs 80,000 in August this year, while the Diwali lanterns and allied decorations registered total sales of Rs 1,05,000 for the students.
The good news is that all the returns are equally distributed among students after deducting the raw material costs.
This year’s sales has been a major morale booster for all of us. The students, our school management and parents are all very happy, informs Naik.
Of course, there is also high demand for hand-made bags made from newspapers. A Ponda marriage party recently placed an order for 350 newspapers bags. Envelopes are popular too. Hindu families routinely pick up these envelopes for use in their traditional haldi-kumkum functions according to Naik.
The other activity that keeps the students busy is the making of paper flowers. “Our sister institutions have stopped buying natural flowers completely. At Rs 120 per bouquet, we offer cheaper and longer lasting flowers,” Naik said.