Project Salamat Raho keeps striving to bring forward stories of unsung heroes, social good and humanKind. The goal is to create impact through storytelling.
This story will take you through the journey of Meena Bedarkar, the founder of the NGO Nirmalya Trust, which has been working for the welfare of the physically challenged since 2005.
NGO Nirmalya Trust: The Story Of Meena Bedarkar
Meena Bedarkar, Delhi born, father was in the Foreign Service and mother with the Finance Ministry. At 13 years, the seeds for social work were sown. As a teenager she would visit old age homes.
Married at 21 to an engineer and pilot. They had four children and life was fulfilling.
Life took a turn in 1990…life is so unpredictable, one learns from Meena’s story. Their experiences revealed a world that would teach them to look beyond visible boundaries.
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Daughter with Cerebral Palsy
Their daughter was detected with cerebral palsy. A slow learner and would probably never walk. At age 3, she had a convulsion which made her condition worse. Her legs got crossed. It took nine years to get her legs separated. She took her first step at 11 years.
But that didn’t deter Meena from what had to be done.
For the next 14 years, most of her time was spent in KEM hospital for physiotherapy or Iyengar Institute for Yoga. Life was hectic. She was fortunate that the whole family supported and co-operated.
Meena had first-hand experience about the physical, mental, and emotional needs of a physically challenged child.
She and her husband decided to set up an NGO for people with disabilities – a Public Charitable Trust which would support people with special needs.
But fate kept playing it’s tough games in the life of Meena Bedarkar.
In 2004, her young son was detected with cancer. It was another hard-hitting blow. It is terrible for any parent to watch their child suffering. Meena and her husband were always positive. They feel blessed they could spend quality time with him. He passed away peacefully.
Meena had already started work on their NGO NIRMALYA TRUST. It got registered in 2005.
NGO Nirmalya Trust: Vision
Its vision was to empower persons with disabilities and make them productive members of society by providing employment.
Very few people were working in that area at that time, awareness was lacking and convincing employers was a task.
They conducted the first employment fair in 2005. Started a plant nursery to generate employment for the visually impaired, hearing and speech impaired and the orthopedically challenged.
It was a tough but empowering journey. Success was the goal, and they made it! Since then, there has been no looking back. Soon hundreds had been trained and placed.
Slowly the word spread and volunteers started joining them. Help poured in. Volunteers became their backbone. Their support at each step was invaluable!
As with all NGOs, Nirmalya depends on donations for all its work.
The mission was clear: Integration of the physically challenged into the mainstream through early intervention and training.
1. Vocational training and employment for challenged candidates at Nirmalya units.
Making paper bags – Volunteers collected newspapers and helped market the bags too. When ‘No pollution, no plastic’ drive started, paper bags became the next best option.
Door mats, coasters, book marks, decorative gift bags and even mehndi design making was taught.
At the plant nursery, the differently abled are trained to propagate plants, care for the saplings, put them in various containers and make them ready for sale. This vocation does not require high academic qualification, so it was easier to generate employment here.
2. Placement of challenged candidates in retail outlets, hospitality industry, manufacturing units, banks etc. – Lemon Tree Hotels was the first to give employment in the hospitality sector. The first 5 hearing and speech impaired boys were placed at Pune. Since then, Nirmalya Trust has placed hundreds of challenged people into good jobs.
3. Education and guidance for soft skills as per individual requirement and sending candidates for suitable training courses based on need, interest and ability – They also raised education funds for various students who wanted to study further and play sports. Some of their mentees participated in international and national games. Few physically challenged sports people have reached great heights and even Paralympics level, with support from Nirmalya Trust.
4. Providing Mobility Aid to challenged candidates
Apart from regular projects, Nirmalya Trust also provides mobility aid to orthopedically challenged individuals, in the form of side-wheel attachments to two-wheelers, walkers, walking sticks, crutches, callipers and wheel-chairs. Nirmalya has positively impacted the lives of over 200 persons with disabilities by providing such aid.
The organization has also integrated over a 100 visually impaired students into the mainstream. Nirmalya Trust established a Braille books library and provided educational and extra-curricular reading material to students from all over Maharashtra. Books, MP3 players, and audio CD’s were distributed to the needy in the urban and rural areas alike.
Besides this, the Trust has also undertaken sapling distribution drives in the city and villages to promote awareness about the environment. Over 25000 saplings have been distributed over the years. 5000 plus saplings were planted by school children and others, which was a very successful drive. Many such drives were conducted. It was very fulfilling to watch the trees grow over time.
During their visits to the villages, they realised that most of the
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Nirmalya Trust continues to work towards fulfilling its objectives.
During the last one year, since the onset of the Covid pandemic, and the Nisarga Cyclone along the Konkan coastline, the NGO has supported over 4000 individuals with groceries.
To donate to Nirmalya Trust, you may write to them on [email protected] or call on 9422509649.
NomadLawyer salutes Nirmalya Trust!
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