Where the mind is without Prejudice and the Head is Held High
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
The famous lines of this poem by Rabrinath Tagore fill us up with patriotism and valour inspiring us to do things that will make a change, a change that will improve the quality of lives for us and those in our surroundings.
About 2 months ago I was introduced to Muskaan by Mr. Ajay Amar, a professional friend. Over the course of many meetings, it was my meeting with Drs. (Mrs.) Auluck, Founder and Chairman of Muskaan (NGO) that made the picture more clear in my mind about the change that she along with her team of dedicated parents and professionals have brought in since they first started in 1982.
I realized that my problems and situations are a miniscule in front of what these people with intellectual disabilities face.
Muskaan, a voluntary not-for-profit organization was founded in 1982 when a group of parents and professionals came together because they was dissatisfied with the absence of services for their children affected with Down’s syndrome.
One visit to their centre at New Delhi will leave an everlasting impact on your heart. A big smile, a warm handshake, a bear hug from them and you start to see the world from a very new perspective. You start to thank god for all that you have been given, both in terms of physical and material. They are just as loving as any you and I; its saddening to see that we as a people have excluded them from our society on the grounds that they are misfits.
Honestly, in all of my 47 years of living, my own perceptions because of informed by their appearance never let me interact with such differently abled people, and I truly regret it. The amount of love and affection that I received from them was so over whelming that it made me change my perception.
While interacting with the students and staff members at Muskaan, one thing that stuck me was their sincerity for the cause. Everyone I met, be it the supervisors in the stationery unit or the candle unit or the young lady at the sales counter, Muskaan was the purpose in life. Each and every person was dedicatedly contributing their bit to support the cause.
The question that came was, “how could someone be so dedicated in their work, when in today’s work environment we have regular employee performance issues?”
I got the answer when I met the person behind Muskaan, Dr. (Mrs.) Shanti Auluck.
Meeting her was an experience in itself. I connected with her immediately as she resembled my mother. Also she had been an academician in Delhi University like my mother. I saw my mother’s refection in her. The meeting was of all together a different level. When she started talking and went back to the time when Muskaan was setup, I got a glimpse of her personality and her sheer dedication and determination to affect a change which she has successfully transferred to the team at Muskaan.
The students at Muskaan are provided with vocational skills for making items like stationery products, wax candles, bakery items, pickles, etc. Faced with the harsh reality of life that inspite of possessing required skills, these students are not accepted in the regular stream for employment, Muskaan decided to put them in their own work centre at New Delhi and pay them a stipend for the work they do.
The products made by them are currently sold at their sales counter. The quality of the products made and sold is very high and the raw material used is of high quality standards. The products are much in demand and are usually sold out quickly especially during the festival season.
It was that day that I decided to do my bit for the cause and try and add to their already smiling faces.
The best way to support them would be help them to increase the demand of the products made by them. I decided to include these products on our e-commerce portal, www.zarood.com .
These products can be found at http://zarood.com/collections/cause-products
Now one doesn’t need to travel to Muskaan office to purchase these products. The products offered are a range of Stationery Items and Wax Candles. We have tried to create attractive choices like practical product bundles, cash on delivery, accepting all major credit/debit cards and netbanking.
We will adding products based on the response and support we get from our patrons in India. We look forward to support from everyone to make this endeavour a success and bring a smile to the faces of the students at MUSKAAN.
- September 07, 2015
- Siddhant Garg