Hello Everyone!! Glad to be backin blogging space with no limitation on the word count!
We have already shared an update about Ms. Pavithra’s travel to Shanghai with an agenda of spreading inclusion across the globe. This is her 2nd association with Entrepreneur’s Organization (1st being My EO Engage Summit at Colombo in Jan 2019) being invited as the keynote speaker.
EO Shanghai chapter had arrangedfor a learning on Jan 10th 2020 that included Ms. Pavithra’s speech,a Diversity and Equality Training workshop and a factory tour of “InclusionFactory” that employs people with intellectual disabilities.
Diversity Equality Training by Marina Kalnitski, Job Coach, SIA Program Director, Inclusion Factory
The audience were a mix ofentrepreneurs who are aiming to be inclusive, HR managers who are in need ofright direction in approaching and employing people with disabilities, sports championswho are people with disability, a visually impaired champion who runs Dialoguein the Dark across Beijing. Audience were given a paper and pen, asked to pendown thoughts/words that occur to them upon hearing terms such as “People”, “DisabledPeople”, “Segregation of People with Disabilities” and “Inclusion of Peoplewith Disabilities”.
We could see words like friends,family, happiness, fun when it was about “People” and sad, wrong,discrimination and many more in negative tone when it was about “DisabledPeople”. Main point to note was about the negativity that was around “disabledpeople” and absence of terms such as family, fun. The difference that our mindautomatically cultivates was explained through this activity.
Next, audience was split into 2groups for an activity of including all the small items given into a shoe boxand pack it. No item must be left outside the box unpacked. It seemed to be afun game where teams crushed, squashed, broke things to fit them into the boxbut, there was a catch. It was to check if we try to find space and ways toinclude all the items without damaging its shape and yet pack the box. Now,equate paper cups, sheets to people with disability and the audience tosociety. Paper cups are easy to crush and make more space. Sheets were cut intopieces using scissors. Similarly, people with disabilities are looked upon asan easy target for society to ignore them. This activity taught the audience toobserve, analyse and find ways to include everyone, equally!
Marina also shed light on 3 typesmodels related to disability. Traditional model in which disability wasconsidered as a curse, punishment and people with disability had no access toschool and employment. Next model, slightly improved version, is Medical modelin which it is associated with an illness that needs to be cured, children withdisability were sent to special needs school and it was their family that takesdecision on their behalf. Third model is Social / Human rights model in whichpeople are considered to be people, they (people with disability) can chose tolive anywhere, study anything of their choice, can have a professional careerand decide for themselves. Society is slowly but steadily taking baby stepstowards third model which includes everyone as they are!
Thus, DET introduced inclusion tothe audience and a QA session cleared their doubts. It was followed by a tourto production floor of the inclusion factory where people with intellectual disabilitiesworked on manufacturing automobile spare parts with high quality and precision.Who would have thought that people with intellectual disabilities can do such ademanding task? If one part goes wrong, the entire automobile assembly goes fora toss! Such is the importance of task that they do and they do it with utmost sincerityand precision. It was both humbling and heart-warming to watch them work atease, be relaxed, have fun and be extremely proud of what they do!
For more details:
Video coverage: http://www.inclusion-factory.com/en/512.html
Breaking the Barriers: Ms. Pavithra’s Speech
Post lunch, it was Ms. Pavithra’sturn to introduce Vindhya to the audience. She shared what made her startVindhya, what are the challenges she faced in the initial years inestablishing. For the audience who were looking for guidance in employingpeople with disability, Vindhya was like a role-model and an inspiration tolearn from. Ms. Pavithra emphasized on the driving force behind the success ofVindhya: helping those on the fringes of society earn their dignity and herapproach, “Our focus was straight – to work with people who lack mainstreamoptions and provide a life of dignity”. She also explained about variousservices that Vindhya offers to different industries with PWD as its mainworkforce. It was important to tell the audience about the nature of jobs thatPWD can do and excel at. She also explained about various initiatives taken atVindhya such as accessible premises, technology-enabled solutions, food andaccommodation at subsidized rates, etc. These factors play a major role in makingVindhya, a great place to work for PWD. It has great impact in their lives andlikewise, through Vindhya, Ms. Pavithra has changed thousands of lives of PWD,for good!
As an activity, Ms. Pavithra alsotaught English alphabets in sign language and asked volunteers from audience toparticipate in quick games using sign language. It was fun yet thought provoking– that it is possible to communicate with each other, understand each otherdespite not uttering a word. And when everyone learn and use sign language,people with hearing impairment feel they are one among, not as an outsider!
Speech by Mary, Dialogue in the Dark:
Next was the speech by Ms. Mary,a visually challenged person from Beijing. She shared her personal journey ofbattling loss of eye sight and how that didn’t stop her from getting educationand taking up a professional career. She also shared the plight of othervisually challenged people in China who lack family support to come out oftheir home and lead a normal life. She emphasized that the scenario must changein Chinese society and government must introduce more supportive initiatives. Itwas highly inspiring to learn her journey to strong-willed person who shows wayto other visually impaired people in China by organizing Dialogue in the Darkregularly.
Speech by Jiachao, Paralympics medalist from China:
Jiachao presented the currentsituation of PWD in China who are into sports. Though they win medals andlaurels for China, he felt, there is a lack of support from the government in assistingthem to provide employment. Lack of infrastructure and initiatives do notencourage people with disabilities to take up any job that will help themprovide for self and family. It was an eye-opener for the audience who pledgedto do whatever it takes and possible from their end to create a difference inthe lives of people with disabilities they meet; either through employment ortraining or skilling or direction!
Towards the end of the day,everyone left the venue with one common thought in mind: enough of talkinginclusion, let’s walk the talk!