Light sources are the most important part of the decorations since Diwali is the festival of lights, after all. What is Diwali without lanterns and diyas adorning each corner of the house? Rather than shopping for these items in stores, why not be Local for Diwali and empower people with special needs at the same time? Diwali is especially poignant for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) who make a living creating corporate gifts and decorations.
Buy your diyas and kandils, lamps and lanterns from organisations that work with PwDs this year. You will not only be celebrating the festival of lights with beautiful handmade objects but also engaging in citizen social responsibility (CSR).
COVID-19 has been especially stressful for the differently-abled. Not only have many lost their sources of income, but they have also had to deal with social isolation in the lockdown. There are many NGOs and social enterprises out there who train and support battered women, impoverished and unemployed youth, and PwDs with intellectual and physical challenges, to show their craftsmanship in churning out festive products. Here are three of them.
1. Om Creations Trust
If you’re looking for exquisite handmade diyas, lamps and ceramic lights in jewel tones, Om Creations Trust is where to find them. This South Mumbai based NGO was founded in the year 1991 by a special educator. It was born when a bunch of parents of girls with Down Syndrome came together to channelise their kids’ energies productively. They decided to hone their artistic talents.
Art, crochet, ceramics and craft became a source of joy and engagement for the children. The NGO works with women and girls born with Down Syndrome and other developmental challenges. Their creations are divine, made under the expert guidance of teachers and volunteers. Not only are the girls making high-quality art, but they also produce delicious mithais, cookies and sweets.
National Association of Disabled’s Enterprises (NADE) is the place to find Diwali lamps, rangoli designs, tea candles, corporate gifts and handpainted diyas. NADE is an NGO on a mission to generate employment for PwD so they can have a good shot at a full life. It was set up in the 1980s when the non-profit ecosystem in India was still quite archaic.
NADE was ahead of its time in that it saw the potential for the differently-abled to lift themselves out of unemployment and organise themselves into co-operatives of PwD. It finds suitable self-employment opportunities for the physically challenged to earn a livelihood based on the concepts of ‘self-help’ and ‘mutual help’. The team has plans to open a large rehabilitation centre in MIDC, Navi Mumbai where 4,000 physically challenged persons can get training at once.
For bright kandils, paper lamps and lanterns, diyas and decorative lights, check out the wares made by people with special needs from Hunar Foundation. This non-profit finds them suitable vocational models, so they can live independently yet be productive members of society. Hunar not only becomes a facilitator of livelihood but also educates them about their rights.
As a responsible citizen, it is up to you to turn on the lights of kindness and economic empowerment for PwD this Diwali.