EO Shanghai Learning Event – 2020

Published by January 22, 2020 11:25 am

Hello Everyone!! Glad to be back in 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 arranged for a learning on Jan 10th 2020 that included Ms. Pavithra’s speech, a Diversity and Equality Training workshop and a factory tour of “Inclusion Factory” that employs people with intellectual disabilities.

Diversity Equality Training by Marina Kalnitski, Job Coach, SIA Program Director, Inclusion Factory

The audience were a mix of entrepreneurs who are aiming to be inclusive, HR managers who are in need of right direction in approaching and employing people with disabilities, sports champions who are people with disability, a visually impaired champion who runs Dialogue in the Dark across Beijing. Audience were given a paper and pen, asked to pen down thoughts/words that occur to them upon hearing terms such as “People”, “Disabled People”, “Segregation of People with Disabilities” and “Inclusion of People with 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 “Disabled People”. Main point to note was about the negativity that was around “disabled people” and absence of terms such as family, fun. The difference that our mind automatically cultivates was explained through this activity.

Next, audience was split into 2 groups for an activity of including all the small items given into a shoe box and pack it. No item must be left outside the box unpacked. It seemed to be a fun game where teams crushed, squashed, broke things to fit them into the box but, there was a catch. It was to check if we try to find space and ways to include all the items without damaging its shape and yet pack the box. Now, equate paper cups, sheets to people with disability and the audience to society. Paper cups are easy to crush and make more space. Sheets were cut into pieces using scissors. Similarly, people with disabilities are looked upon as an easy target for society to ignore them. This activity taught the audience to observe, analyse and find ways to include everyone, equally!

Thoughts on “Inclusion of PWD”

Marina also shed light on 3 types models related to disability. Traditional model in which disability was considered as a curse, punishment and people with disability had no access to school and employment. Next model, slightly improved version, is Medical model in which it is associated with an illness that needs to be cured, children with disability were sent to special needs school and it was their family that takes decision on their behalf. Third model is Social / Human rights model in which people are considered to be people, they (people with disability) can chose to live anywhere, study anything of their choice, can have a professional career and decide for themselves. Society is slowly but steadily taking baby steps towards third model which includes everyone as they are!

Thus, DET introduced inclusion to the audience and a QA session cleared their doubts. It was followed by a tour to production floor of the inclusion factory where people with intellectual disabilities worked on manufacturing automobile spare parts with high quality and precision. Who would have thought that people with intellectual disabilities can do such a demanding task? If one part goes wrong, the entire automobile assembly goes for a toss! Such is the importance of task that they do and they do it with utmost sincerity and precision. It was both humbling and heart-warming to watch them work at ease, be relaxed, have fun and be extremely proud of what they do!

For more details:

Website: http://www.inclusion-factory.com/en/

Video coverage: http://www.inclusion-factory.com/en/512.html

Breaking the Barriers: Ms. Pavithra’s Speech

Post lunch, it was Ms. Pavithra’s turn to introduce Vindhya to the audience. She shared what made her start Vindhya, what are the challenges she faced in the initial years in establishing. For the audience who were looking for guidance in employing people with disability, Vindhya was like a role-model and an inspiration to learn from. Ms. Pavithra emphasized on the driving force behind the success of Vindhya: helping those on the fringes of society earn their dignity and her approach, “Our focus was straight – to work with people who lack mainstream options and provide a life of dignity”. She also explained about various services that Vindhya offers to different industries with PWD as its main workforce. It was important to tell the audience about the nature of jobs that PWD can do and excel at. She also explained about various initiatives taken at Vindhya such as accessible premises, technology-enabled solutions, food and accommodation at subsidized rates, etc. These factors play a major role in making Vindhya, a great place to work for PWD. It has great impact in their lives and likewise, through Vindhya, Ms. Pavithra has changed thousands of lives of PWD, for good!

As an activity, Ms. Pavithra also taught English alphabets in sign language and asked volunteers from audience to participate in quick games using sign language. It was fun yet thought provoking – that it is possible to communicate with each other, understand each other despite 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 of battling loss of eye sight and how that didn’t stop her from getting education and taking up a professional career. She also shared the plight of other visually challenged people in China who lack family support to come out of their home and lead a normal life. She emphasized that the scenario must change in Chinese society and government must introduce more supportive initiatives. It was highly inspiring to learn her journey to strong-willed person who shows way to other visually impaired people in China by organizing Dialogue in the Dark regularly.

Speech by Jiachao, Paralympics medalist from China:

Jiachao presented the current situation of PWD in China who are into sports. Though they win medals and laurels for China, he felt, there is a lack of support from the government in assisting them to provide employment. Lack of infrastructure and initiatives do not encourage people with disabilities to take up any job that will help them provide for self and family. It was an eye-opener for the audience who pledged to do whatever it takes and possible from their end to create a difference in the lives of people with disabilities they meet; either through employment or training or skilling or direction!

Towards the end of the day, everyone left the venue with one common thought in mind: enough of talking inclusion, let’s walk the talk!

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This post was written by manasa balaji