EMPOWERMENT OF THE DISABLED

Disabled Children - Singing

Disabled Children - Singing

The architect of HELPO, Dr Abdul Salam is blind by birth. He founded The Associated Blind of Trivandrum (ABT) in 1967. The ABT thereafter grew into the Kerala Federation of the Blind (KFB), and ultimately into the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). Today the NFB is part of the World Blind Union. Dr. Salam founded HELPO Foundation with the same spirit of empowerment of the disabled.

Disabled Children - Music

Disabled Children - Music

Therefore, empowering the disabled is part of HELPO’s own identity and is the main thrust of HELPO.

The traditional approach for helping disabled persons the world over is through custodialism, charity and orphanages. HELPO refused to accept this approach and devised a new multi-pronged approach of empowerment. This approach has the following facets.

- Assess and analyse the condition of the disabled through extensive visits to schools, training centers, orphanages and old age homes across the state of Maharashtra and the country at large.
- HELPO Foundation was instrumental in the enactment of a Central Government Law in 1996 (Equal Opportunity for the Disabled) which enhanced job opportunities for the disabled by reserving 3% of government and public sector jobs for them. The opportunity provided by the law gave the disabled a feeling of dignity and status as citizens of India. Though useful, this law had limited impact on the livelihoods of the majority of disabled persons.
- Only broad community based initiatives can provide jobs to the majority of the disabled persons. In late 2010, HELPO developed the novel concept of Apang Bachat Gat (self help empowerment program for the disabled in Pune, India). The Apang Bachat Gat is a self help group comprised of disabled individuals as well as their family and well wishers.
Each disabled member of the Apang Bachat Gat will have access to economic and social support to earn his/her livelihood.