Growing from strength to strength

Growing from strength to strength


‘Chetana’, run by Prashanti Foundation in Sirsi, has been addressing the needs of differently-abled people. The organisation assists them in making products out of banana fibre and creating a market for the same, writes Sandhya Hegde Almane

This organisation has been lending a helping hand to many differently-abled people, who now have the means to earn their livelihood by dint of their hard work. We are referring to ‘Chetana’, an Occupational and Rehabilitation Training Centre at Sirsi taluk in Uttara Kannada district, run by Prashanti Foundation.

The centre was started in October 2005 in a very small way to address the needs of a few differently-abled people. During the initial stages, the beneficiaries were taught to make small paper envelopes.

Over the next couple of years, the number of people in the organisation slowly grew and they started making pens and newspaper bags. Attempts were made to create a market for these products and the organisation received some response as well.

The organisation tried to meet the market demand, but the low returns that the products, such as newspaper bags and pens fetched, led them to explore newer products that would fetch more revenue. Another difficulty that ‘Chetana’ encountered was that the pace at which these specially-abled children worked was just not enough to match the demand.

Donations were mobilised to cover extra expenses till 2010. During this period, the centre’s authorities spent time, effort and money making some products out of recycled paper and banana fibre so that more revenue could be generated.

‘Chetana’ has been supported by NABARD, which has sponsored three skill development programmes. The centre has now grown and has employed a manager, five trainers and 20 specially-abled people. Work is distributed based on the individual’s ability. 

‘Chetana’ has ever since grown and has helped differently-abled people to make not just paper bags, but also banana fibre files, boxes, pen stands, belt, photo frames and jewellery boxes made out of banana fibre. The institution caters to the needs of the differently-abled by way of paying them back in the form of remuneration for the products. ‘Chetana’ has now managed to get a good market for its products in Bangalore and the institution participates in exhibitions held in other parts of the State.

Constant support
Pramila, one of the differently-abled inmates of the centre, makes paper products with dexterity. Madhav, another inmate, has mastered the skill of cutting plywood. Ganesh Hegde handles  banana fibre with great ease.

Trainers Saraswati, Vidya, Nirmala, Suma, Usha and Ravi constantly supervise and guide the differently-abled at the centre.

Trustee of ‘Chetana’, psychiatrist Mala Giridhar, says that the impact of the programme has brought remarkable success because most of the differently-abled now have a livelihood.

“What’s more, they also now have the opportunity for social interaction with others like themselves. Economic empowerment, is, of course, a huge plus,” she adds. She is grateful to NABARD for the cooperation extended. The centre hopes to sustain itself on the income it hopes to generate in the coming years, she points out.