ALL EEJ WELL with disability awareness!

Recently I watched the movie “3 idiots” and was bowled over by the use of mind blowing humour to bring out a serious message of “pursuing excellence instead of success”. As the movie unfolded, and between alternately crying or laughing, I was continuously drawing a parallel to our sensitization workshops and the message that we try to provide on disability which is on similar lines of “providing serious messages with humour”.

My observation is that whenever there are serious and important messages to be given, the natural reaction for any person is to shrink away from hearing it. We get defensive or bored about it.  I suppose the director of 3 idiots has understood the same and hence created history with his movies.

At EnAble India, whenever we provide awareness on disability (especially in our workshop format), we realize that people do not want to spend time to get aware about disability. So we keep our workshops to a short 2 hours! In that small window of opportunity, we HAVE to make an impact and overcome the conditioning, beliefs, biases, fears and resistance that people have towards the disabled.

Can it be done in 2 hours? Well, that’s all we have, so we make it work.

How?? Simple – The participants take part in an extremely interactive session where all the answers and conclusions are given by them! (Aha! When we come up with the answer, we are more convinced). They are made aware that everybody has abilities and inabilities. The trick for all of us is to maximize our abilities and have solutions to overcome our inabilities. During the workshop they experience the journey of a person with disability and realize that almost everything that they thought as impossible was possible! They realize that many persons with disability are going through their journey of rehabilitation and overcoming their disability and hence they may not (and will not) fit the stereotypes of a person with disability.

The workshop opens their mind to new possibilities and every body in the room is made to realize how little of our potential we actually use. They end up coming up with workplace solutions by which hearing impaired are “talking/communicating” or visually impaired are “seeing” and realize again that anything is possible. During the entire workshop, the audience is moved at times, is introspective at other times, mostly laughing at themselves and at the end of the workshop, we see them speaking our language with conviction.

Seeing the impact of this movie has strengthened my belief in what we are doing… our awareness must spread faster and using more of such methodologies.. Inshallah ho jaayega! What do you say?

– Shanti Raghavan, Founder, Managing Trustee | Ashoka Fellow, Enable India to empower people with disabilities

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