LIGHTING UP LIVES

SHABIHA NUR KHATOON, OP

As an institution, Antardrishti is striving to illuminate the lives of the differently-abled
– a noble endeavour worthy of emulation

The one thing which is very special about the festival of lights is the different varieties of candles and earthen lamps available in the market. Diwali is not just about crackers, it’s also about unique candles and diyas and the bazaar filled with candles and crafts becomes a favoured destination for shoppers who want their purchases to have special meaning during Diwali.
Have you ever thought what would have happened if we didn’t have the power of vision. We should be thankful to god that we can see the different colours of life. Imagine the lives of people who are blind; for them the festival of lights is just like any other day. But, despite the fact they are blind and physically handicapped, there are people who believe in the power of spreading light and brighten up our home every year with the ornate candles and diyas they make for Diwali.
Delhi-based Antardrishti is one such institution for differently-abled people. It is a social project established and run by Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan, under the divine leadership of His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj Ji.

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The name “Antardrishti” is derived from its Hindi meaning of “inner vision”. The organisation believes even differently-abled persons have every right to live with dignity, why should they be different from us. Disabled persons deserve our understanding and empathy like any other fellow human being.
By providing food to the hungry or clothes to the unclad we can only facilitate them momentarily. Why not lend them a technique, which awakens their inner potentialities, and makes them self-dependent for a lifetime? Why not make them capable enough to meet their mundane needs so that they don’t have to plead for supplementary support?
Talking to Sunday POST, Antardrishti spokesperson, Swami Vishalanand says: “We provide them that platform where people with disabilities can show their inner qualities to the world. We reach out to people who beg on the streets for their livelihood. We talk to them first and try to convince them that begging is not good and we would offer them good opportunities which will help them leading life with dignity. Some accept our proposal and they became a part of Antardrishti, but there are a few who reject our proposal. Till today we have made four thousand people self-employed and at least given them the platform where they can earn their bread and butter instead of begging. If you ask me about the success rate then 80 per cent chances are there when we actually convince them and make them realize that about their new and changed life. Twenty per cent chances are when they don’t need to understand.”
What does the institution basically do? “It’s an ongoing workshop and persons are selected depending upon their skills and abilities; for example some people take six months to learn while there are others who take a year or so. And after they are fully trained they leave our institution and work in some company or start their own business. We are actually happy with the response we receive because they also feel nice when they come in the mainstream and people recognize them and their work. They are also thought to paint the terracotta (mud) items like diyas and other decorative pieces which, in turn, add to their economic productivity and creativity,” adds the spokesperson.
Antardrishti is all about making vision impaired persons look beyond the physical limitation of their lost or weakening eyesight. A person without sight too has right to live like any other human being. When this right to live is spiritually oriented, the physical limitations no longer remain a burden or curse rather it give a face-lift to motivation and growth of hidden potentials. This illumination glows the spirit so well that one starts leading a normal dignified life by making use of all the abilities against one disability. Under Antardrishti programme, the visually impaired persons are gainfully employed into manufacturing units of candles, herbal-hand made soaps and bakery foodstuffs. The beneficiaries are also employed into stitching and sewing activities. These products are then promoted at various in-house programme outlets, trade fairs, and festive events, also during school and college fests.
The institution’s beneficiaries, who were earlier considered as handicapped burden on their families and society, are now exuberating themselves as living examples of human efficiency, empathy and ethics. It becomes essential for us to understand that any human being on this earth no matter with or without any disability is a fellow human being and deserves to lead the same dignified life as others do.
You need to Digress from pity to compassion Extend your hand to walk with the differently abled persons to make them earn for themselves. Give them the employment and opportunities. Every human being social needs some or the other kind of help. The handicapped persons have certain different kind of requirements and special needs. By just accommodating these needs in some very simple ways you can actually create avenues for them to become independent financially, emotionally and spiritually and socially.

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