From hapless to happy!


Last year, ‘Sakal’ started ‘Social for Action’, a digital platform in the form of a website, to get crowdfunding for the activities of social service organisations working in various fields in Maharashtra. In the course of the year, it helped eight voluntary organisations complete their activities by giving publicity to their philanthropic work and get them funds for their noble causes. One of them was Helpers of the Handicapped, an institution working for the last 38 years for the integration and comprehensive rehabilitation of differently-abled persons.

People with disabilities, especially those who have no shelter of their own, are often shunned by society. Dr Nasima Mohammad Amin Hurjuk and Rajni Karkare-Deshpande realised this and founded the NGO ‘Helpers of the Handicapped’ in 1984 to enable the differently abled live a dignified life.

The organisation has been working to provide such individuals with all facilities needed for their physical, mental, educational and financial rehabilitation. Initially, it tried to understand the problems of the disabled coming to them and provide them with medical help, prostheses and implants. Later, it expanded and set up ‘Gharonda - Hostel and Rehabilitation Centre’, a free residential training hostel at Unchgaon East on Hupri-Mudshingi Road at a distance of 9 km from Kolhapur. The purpose was the educational and medical rehabilitation of differently-abled students. The majority of students in this residential project are from rural areas and low-income groups.

In the year 2000, the organisation started Samarth Vidyamandir, an inclusive school from kindergarten to Std 8 and Samarth Vidyalaya, a school from Std 9 and 10. The school has started a multi-skill foundation course for Std 8 to 10 students that provides employment opportunities.

The organisation started its Vocational Training Centre at Kolhapur and a tailoring unit that functions under HandiHelp Welfare Foundation. Training is imparted in the construction of tools, carpentry, stitching and handicrafts. The Helpers of the Handicapped has helped more than 35,000 students with physical challenges so far.

The organisation needs financial support for physical equipment, computer room, other equipment, and educational training and materials. It approached Sakal for help. Social for Action posted information about Helpers of the Handicapped so that students with disabilities can be brought into the mainstream of society. The appeal received huge response and the funds thus collected were handed over to Helpers of the Handicapped to buy computer materials.

Case study

The story of Rajesh Pillai proves how Helpers of the Handicapped has succeeded in its mission. Rajesh was brought to Helpers of the Handicapped through an orphanage in Mumbai. Born without both arms and any support from relatives, the teenager had behavioural issues and worse, he was an addict. But with guidance from the current president of the organisation Pramod Deshpande, gradually Rajesh changed as a person. The organisation encouraged him to carry out his daily activities with the help of his feet and toes and also write and operate a computer. He passed his Std 10 exam. He was enrolled in the IT (Information Technology) diploma course at Government Technical College and also accommodated on the college premises. The course was a race of hurdles for Rajesh, but the Helpers of the Handicapped guided and helped him. He passed the Engineering Diploma with good marks and got admission to the Government Engineering College at Karad. In due course, he earned a BE degree. Today, he is serving as a Junior Systems Administrator at Benchmark IT Solutions.

How ‘Social for Action’ helped!

‘Social for Action’ published information about Helpers of the Handicapped. It also made an appeal for financial aid for the organisation so that it can bring the disabled students and people in the mainstream of society and buy materials and equipment and build a computer cell. The appeal received a huge response. The collected funds were handed over to the organisation.

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