I finally managed to nail a perpetually busy Vidya on a Sunday evening, and asked her a few questions. Vidya is Program Manager – Employment at EnAble India and one of the pillars of the organization. Her answers threw light on what really makes EnAble India tick, and the qualities that makes it such a fantastic place to be at.
A little bit about your background
I have done MA in English Literature in open university. I am here at Enable India since 5 years now, and married to a low vision person. My low vision was diagnosed when I was 7-8 years old. Till the sixth standard I was ok, almost a topper in class, I was a good and an active student. Later when my vision deteriorated, it was difficult to understand what was happening. I had to rely on my brothers and mother. The school people were also very good. By the time I came to college, I was not understanding the low vision problem very well. I developed a kind of inferiority complex. Somehow I did my PUC because a couple of my school friends were also there. After my PUC, I was not confident enough to go out. I felt I couldn’t do anything independently. I had to sit at home thinking I had no option. I took BA through correspondence, but I didn’t get a proper coach. I went on searching for a coach. My parents also were confused, they didn’t know what to do – I am not blind, but I am not sighted either. My brother and mother couldn’t help at this stage. For three four years I was at home. I thought nothing could be done. I developed depression because I am the kind of person who always wants to keep herself occupied and do something meaningful. I went for music class and Reiki class just to keep myself occupied. My circle widened through that. My family was very protective also. They never used to send me alone. That’s how I grew up – lack of confidence, protectiveness, etc.
How did you first get to know about EnAble India?
I started learning Braille at Mathruchaya. I learnt about EnAble India through a former student of Enable India, who told me that I could learn computers. So I went to EnAble India, and I was so amazed when I was typing, that I could actually do something on the computers. I later went to NAB for a certificate course. One day I went to Mitra Jyothi, and they were looking for a project co-ordinator. I did a two month project. Then I was sent by Mitra Jyothi to Enable India to upgrade my skills so that I could be a good trainer. I was interacting on a daily basis with Shanti ma’am, and I strongly felt that this was the right place to be in. I didn’t know why I was feeling that, but I knew I wanted to be with Enable India. The feeling was mutual. So in 2004 I started working with Enable India.
How has EnAble India made a difference to your life?
Definitely. In many, many ways. I got the personal benefit of understanding the efficient ways of working on computers, the various ways of thinking, analyzing, etc. I was a typical fresher out of college. When Shanti ma’am used to talk to people, when she used to interact, and ask questions, at every single point of time I went on learning. I’m still learning, and I enjoyed those kind of learnings. Personally it helped me boost my confidence, improve my skill sets, identify my own potential, learn how to work with people, how to deal with anybody for that matter.
I found there is some meaning when you are talking to someone with lot of love. Any human being needs love. But the disability sector needs more love. Apart from keeping myself occupied and doing some meaningful work, at the end of the day, I always felt satisfied. I used to enjoy my work, there was lot of enjoyment. The most important thing that I always like about Enable India is that I can raise my voice and say that this is something that I want, or no, I don’t want that. There is a high comfort level. I was always a good leader. Here also, from day one to now, I’ve always been a leader. I can be myself and contribute with a lot of pride. It has made a tremendous difference, and completely changed my life and way of thinking.
I would like to say that it has affected my husband also. [laughs] I keep talking about positive thinking and so many things like that. All the learnings I get at Enable India, I share with him, and he also uses it, and it has also affected him in a very nice way. He was also low-vision, he was also a typical fresher, and when he joined his company, he also faced a lot of issues at the beginning. We used to have lots of discussions, and based on the learnings I had got, I used to tell him that no, this is not the way, do it this way. So, it has affected our personal life very well because the understanding between us is very good.
What is the one thing that you really like about EnAble India?
The one thing I really like about EnAble India is the unconditional love that we give. Recently when we were talking about values of EnAble India, I felt about the purity of heart. When I talk to any candidate, anyone, it is with a lot of purity, without having any judgement. That is something which touches me always. The other thing which I don’t want to miss out is the leadership. Leadership meaning that anyone can be himself/herself. Anyone can find the comfort in EnAble India.
What do you think the future holds for you and EnAble India?
[laughs] I have to think about this.
In terms of EnAble India growing, what I personally feel is that the process that we follow today has a lot of loopholes. Over a period of time, two-three years, I would like to see that the process properly working. Any small thing that we do, it affects the employment of anybody sitting anywhere. It could be a phone number, it could be anything. If I don’t do it right today, that affects a person. In terms of EnAble India’s growth, I would like to see all the processes working well. And the same thing should get implemented elsewhere. Today we are in Bangalore, with a small wing in Hyderabad. EnAble India has plans to start in other cities also. The same process should be mirrored in the other places also. In Bangalore we started with a very small setup, and there were so many challenges. I don’t want that to happen in the other places.
I would like EnAble India to set an example in the NGO sector – that an NGO can function so well with a small setup, but with the right attitude and the right energy that is required on a daily basis. One organization with twenty-thirty people cannot place 7 million candidates in the country. We may not be able to touch every single person. But I want to spread the word across the country that there is an organization who cares for you, there is this humanity here. It’s not just about getting trained or getting a job – there is a lot of importance given for humanity. I have seen, there is no respect for the disabled people – they are treated very, very badly. I would like to see EnAble India setting an example across the NGO sector, that wow – if you go to EnAble India, you feel comfort there. That is how I see the growth of EnAble India.
I am in the process of thinking about my growth in EnAble India. I am more action oriented. I would like to be more structured in what I’m doing. I have worked as Computer Trainer for two to two and a half years. Today, I am handling employment. Once the processes are in place, I would like to see myself in a different role. Maybe someone who can handle public relations. It also depends on what is required at that time.
Thank you, Vidya. It was a pleasure talking to you!
– Anitha Murthy