Teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime

Teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime

Give a man a fish and he will eat for one day; teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. It sounds cliched, but for special children from the underprivileged strata of the society, nothing makes more sense. These children, who are victims of a double whammy of poverty and disability, often find themselves in a precarious position once they grow up. Even if they are fortunate enough to go to a special school, they have nowhere to go once they finish education. No one wants to employ them. And their families, who are poverty-stricken, often consider them cursed, and therefore neglect their needs.

The new vocational training centre at the TMC-run Jidd School for underprivileged special children, launched on Sunday August 15, 2004, is an effort to change this painful situation, at least for the students of Jidd School. Later, more such schools can follow the example.

This year, the Rotary International is celebrating its centennial year and this vocation centre project (VCP) is part of the celebrations, initiated and organised by the Rotary Club of Thane Hills. The project is named TRUST, which stands for Training and Rehabilitation of the Underprivileged Segment of Thane. The centre will train the children in six skills: File-making, screen-printing, creating and managing plant nurseries, and production of paper bags, phenyl, and detergents. The teachers are being trained first and then the first batch, comprising 20 students, will be trained. Architect Ravi Iyer, who had designed the beautiful garden at the Jidd School, has designed the training-centre room.

The President of the Rotary Club of Thane Hills, N D Joseph, said on the occasion, "The primary objective of project TRUST is to enable the disabled." The club has also requested TMC to provide a sheltered workshop, where the children can be employed to manufacture products on a large scale. Not only that, even parents of these children can learn these skills and the club will help them in marketing the products. In fact Mayor Sharda Raut, who was present at the launch, suggested that the TMC, which requires large number of files, could buy them from these children. The other prominent persons present in support of centre were Deputy Mayor Subhash Kale, and veteran Shiv Sena leaders Satish Pradhan and Madhukar Sarpotdar, who was the chief guest.

The Inner Wheel Club of Thane Hills is doing its bit for the project by conducting baking classes for teachers and children. They will also provide them with the raw material needed for baking stuff. These children can then learn to bake cookies, cakes, biscuits and bread. Sarmishtha Choudhary from the Inner Wheel says, "Now, whenever there would be birthday celebrations or any occasion which requires baked cakes and cookies, we will buy from them."

It is indeed heartening to see that the special children from the underprivileged section are finally getting their fishing rod, as against only the fish. Soon they’ll go fishing for themselves. Now, that’s what we call an Independence Day gift – a gift of self reliance, a gift of freedom.

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