With the support and encouragement of Meera Badve, Founder and Director of the Niwant Andh Mukta Vikasalaya, Pune, thousands of visually challenged people have re-invented themselves and are living a life filled with hope. From selling chocolates to programming for Google, they are unleashing their potential to the fullest. “There is no limit to what visually challenged people can do. We are the ones who are blind to the possibilities,” says Mrs. Badve.
Mrs. Meera Badve started Niwant Andh Mukta Vikasalaya in 1996. Niwant was a dream then. Mrs. Badve had nothing else other than her own house, talent, and a strong will to devote her life for the cause of upliftment of the visually challenged students-telling them that education was their birth right.
The results of Mrs. Badve’s hard work are clearly visible today-
More than 2000 students have walked out of Niwant as self-reliant individuals.
Every student from Niwant has passed Higher Secondary Education and most have them have graduated in from various streams.
Some of them are pursuing their Ph.D.
Many topped in their respective academic fields.
150 members enrolled every year.
22 different subjects taught from almost every stream of higher education- Law, Commerce, Library Science, MCM, Arts, Science, Bakery, Dancing, to name a few.
16 Braille library branches in Maharashtra and 1 at Goa with a humungous collection of over 3000 Braille books, rendered free-of-cost to the needy.
Today, team Niwant has people from various age groups-retired personnel, housewives to young college students. They help in recording audio materials for the students, translating and typing in the local Marathi language, volunteering as scribe for exams and many more. Experts from IT field all have formed a human chain and are giving a slice of their life for the noble cause.
Many students from Niwant are now employed in various fields as Bank Officers, legal advisors, counselors, teachers, Software Developers; in Railways, P.W.D., Tata Yazaki, Minda Sai, Seed InfoTech; as Telephone operators, Lift Operators, Braille Printers, proof readers, hardware administrators, technical translators for German and Japanese.
Sound mind dwells in a sound body
Niwant has produced International Level Cricketers and Chess players. 120 students of Niwant conquered the Torana Fort this year. 21 girls completed Pinkathon- four of them ran 10 km with a record timing of 59 minutes. Niwant is always fledged with myriad activities- dancing, drawing, singing, planting trees, donating blood, imitating bird calls, performing yoga and mallakhamb, Judo, playing cricket and organizing state level tournaments, skating and many more.
Noteworthy success stories
A group of students has formed “Television” – a software writing firm which is receiving many projects including 9 paid projects by Boardwalk – a U.S. based company
Another group works on ‘Choco Niwant’ – the excellent chocolate making unit
Others are engaged in Braille card writing, making paper bags and organdy flowers, origami handicraft
Amol Kharche, a student at Niwant, is a member of the Indian Blind Cricket team and was the hero of the Blind Cricket World Cup 2014 when he took 2 crucial wickets against Pakistan in the final match, paving a way for India’s victory.
A small video clip that presents the story:
SO CAN ‘EYE’
Many are now married, have children and are leading a mainstream life through Niwant’s efforts. Moreover, they are now contributing back, channeling their effort through the alumni club, ‘So Can Eye’. They have not forgotten their institution, infact they are playing a stellar role, many of the settled ones donating around Rs 20,000 to Niwant to help younger members get an education. She is proud of the fact that begging bowls were replaced by Braille books. Self-respect is the motto of Niwant where vision is no bar.
“They are no longer an unproductive part of the society.They, too, have contributed to the beauty of the world!”
-Mrs. Meera Badve
Mrs. Badve was honored with the “Tata Chemicals Desh Ka Namak Award” for being an inspiring hero of the Nation-2014 (for having contributed to nation building). Through the nationwide campaign, Tata Chemicals collected 200 inspirational stories.
A significant part of India dwells in slums. With accelerated urbanization and a population of approx 1.5 billion, Indian cities are under immense pressure. As a result, the slums are growing along the periphery which in turn creates a challenge for communities to access clean water, hygiene and basic sanitation resources.
The lack of basic sanitation and safe drinking water is not just the cause of diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea, but also a leading cause behind a number of preventable deaths.
We know that simple changes can make a big difference viz. washing hands with soap, providing safe drinking water and building and maintaining clean toilets. Suvidha by HUL is a step in the direction of driving this behavior change.
It is a purpose-built, sustainable community centre which addresses the sanitation, hygiene, drinking water, and Laundry needs of low-income urban households who face severe challenges due to lack of infrastructure and facilities. The first center was established in 2016 in Ghatkopar’s Azad Nagar (one of Mumbai’s largest slums) and has successfully managed to transform the lives of Azad Nagar residents. In August 2019, a second center has been launched in Malad. This initiative by HUL helps make the slums more habitable to the people living there.
The new Suvidha centre in Malad
Stemming from the company’s purpose of making sustainable commonplace, HUL’s initiative ‘Suvidha’ (in partnership with HSBC), continues to create impact with its recent opening in Malad. The new center too holistically addresses the issues of poor personal hygiene, lack of clean drinking water, and poor sanitation and provides services. Residents of the community now have access to clean drinking water, hygienic toilets and modern laundry facilities. All these services are available at a nominal cost to ensure that more and more people avail them.
Unilever Suvidha Center for Environment
With an increase in global population, the demand for water is expected to rise exponentially. In an already scarce availability or unavailability of clean water in many areas, the need to conserve and recycle water becomes pressing. HUL, considering the importance of water management, has designed the Suvidha Centre based on a circular economy approach to water. The design is based on a circular economy approach and uses innovative technology to recycle water from handwashing facilities & laundry to provide water for flushing toilets.
In addition, the all-new ‘Suvidha’ community centre, in partnership with UNDP, is now also providing access to dry waste collection point establishing a decentralised Dry Waste Collection Centre. These centres will collect and store dry waste that shall be further sent for recycling purposes.
Besides saving lives by addressing the WASH crisis among slum dwellers, HUL through its project is also enhancing livelihoods. As part of the project, they are given paid employment opportunities to run, clean and manage the centre.
‘Suvidha’ for women
One of the most adverse and underrated effects of lack of availability of clean water, toilets, bathrooms, and washing machine facility is the fact that the burden of unpaid domestic labour typically falls upon women of the household. ‘Suvidha’ centres have been designed keeping the safety of women in mind by providing separate entrances for them and by keeping the toilets open even in the night. The establishment of washing machines and access to clean water saves them the abundant time that they can rather invest in education or doing something that can be monetised.
The Logical Indian applauds the efforts of HUL by putting together an actionable initiative towards solving the Global WASH crisis, the most pressing challenge of our time. The opening of ‘Suvidha Community Centre’ is not just remarkably saving lives but is also creating livelihood opportunities and reducing environmental impact.