What its like interning at EnAble India

Picture of Ranjith– Rajath Francis

You never know what to expect when you go someplace for an internship. Thoughts lurk around your mind wondering if it’s going to be a fine, peaceful and jovial place to work or an “I want to get out of here as soon as possible” kind of place. Well, Enable India proved itself to be the first one for me. Fun, creative and a challenging place to work. With out-of-the-box thinking people who can make your life and workplace fun to be with, what else can one expect? Its one thing to be completely working under one person, but it’s quite another to work under three to four people. At Enable India, there isn’t a specified job description. Free and got some work which has to be done? Well, it’s all yours. Whether its Shruthi’s data entry or writing weekly reports for Vishnu or solving aptitude based questions for Julian, it’s all your cup of tea. That’s right, if someone asks you what you do at Enable India, you know what to say.

Work and workplace, both are two ends of the same spectrum. Now, when one says that he or she is working for an organization which empowers the disabled, a typical image flashes in our mind, one of people pushing wheelchairs or conducting seminars to boost a physically challenged person’s morale or something on similar lines. But, step inside this place and in a matter of hours you realize the difference. Dealing with employing and training people with disability, EI only pushes these people, giving them the confidence that they are very well capable of doings things on their own. Coming to people with disabilities, a common man’s thought would be of someone who works just to get his daily butter and bread. But, go through the very well structured impressive and professional resumes of these guys, and you might just want to swap your lives with them. Now, sitting in the main office for days together could get a bit monotonous, so EI gave me an opportunity to break that. As a volunteer to help in one of the most prominent software companies, EMC2, for a program organized along with Enable India, it was just a one of kind experience. If you intern at an organization like Enable India and tell people that you didn’t spend time with disabled people, well, that’s going to be a shame. So, while volunteering at EMC2 for the “Diversity and Inclusion” event I got the opportunity to help and interact with about twelve candidates who suffered from profound disability. Interacting with these people was fun in itself. Talented, humorous and fun people they were. Even if you choose to remain quiet thinking that you might be disturb them, they’ll bring up a topic and pull you into a lengthy conversation. The candidates were not the only ones worthy of praise at the event. Dedicating their life and savings to see a successful future for their children, the parents were the main guiding force and strength for people with disability. All together, the “Diversity and Inclusion” event at EMC2 was a memorable one. Things just don’t end there. ‘Asvas’, a dedicated place only for the training of candidates with disability. It was here that I was sent along with two other friends of mine to gain insight on the field of tactile drawings. Tactile drawings, a method used specifically for visually impaired people. Using different textures so that people who are visually impaired can feel and make out the difference, the methodology behind this was explained. But as the popular adage goes, “practice makes a man perfect”, and so we were also given the chance to work with the volunteers from Thomson Reuters in designing tactile boards.

If I begin to describe Enable India and tell you how good this place is, then I’m surely going to run out of words. My knowledge on words which describe something as awesome, magical, mesmerizing, brilliant, amazing, splendid and stunning are just limited to the words you just read. Enable India is all that and more. Getting an opportunity to work for such an organization is something which is going to remain as one of the best things in life for me. Each person here, and all of them that I met while I worked here, taught me how to go about and see life in a different perspective. If I feel low and skeptical of my future, all I have to do is think about those amazing resumes which I dealt with to brighten me up and get me all optimistic. They teach you that nothing is far away from your reach and everything is well within your grasp. If they can achieve great things in life despite all their shortcomings, then anyone can. I’m not sure who says this, all I know is that it’s from the movie ‘Turbo’, but this quote is truly an inspiration, and it goes like this: “No dream is too big, and no dreamer too small”.

(The views and opinion expressed in this article are those of the author & not necessarily those of EnAble India)

What they don’t tell you about an internship at EnAble India

Picture of Kavya standing in front of main office
Kavya Srinivasan

1. There is never place to sit:

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and the EI offices will tell you that when you find somewhere to sit, make sure you just stay there. Don’t ever leave, don’t go to the bathroom, don’t so much as move a muscle. You will lose your seat.

The likelihood is high that the chair you’re sitting in already belongs to someone else anyway. “Oh, but Esther sits there..” “Actually, that’s Shivaprasad’s sir spot…” In these cases, the correct procedure is to ask when the owner of the chair will be back. You may be pleasantly surprised to find someone is on the field for a few days, and your worries will be temporarily gone.

I’ve spent more of my internship looking for somewhere to sit than I have actually sitting.

  1. Didn’t get a job description? There are no job descriptions.

It takes you a day or two to figure this one out, and it’s a big secret at Enable India. Every one does everything. Thought you were going to work on one project? You have another think coming. Your skills are at editing, you can be sure that you’ll be involved in something software or business related. You’ll do phone calls for sourcing no matter who you are. Everyone is fair game for data entry.

I mistakenly went up to Shanti in the first week saying I’ve got some time on my hands. Never again.

  1. The best thing about the day happens at 11 and again at 4: Coffee.

You’re eyes are getting a little heavy. There’s a general air of too much going on. You check your watch, and discover that it’s coffee time. Suddenly, it’s all good. The whole office pulls out little coasters from wherever they’re hidden the rest of the time, and for a few minutes we all slurp our tea, coffee or green tea companionably. And we munch our biscuits. And then we go back to our lives.

This isn’t just coffee at EI, it’s a symbol. It’s the grand equalizer. And is therefore taken very seriously. Otherwise impassioned meetings pause for coffee, sourcing calls stop for coffee, everything stops for coffee.

  1. Get used to no one checking your emails.

Saying ‘how-do-you-do’, that’s a formality. Shaking hands, a formality. You know what else is a formality? Emails. No one reads them, no one replies to them.

You devise your workarounds to this, and this is highly confidential and relevant information if you want to work at EI. This is how: First, send your email. Then, send a text message about your email. Then, go up to wherever the concerned person is sitting (god knows how this is done, since everyone’s sitting in a new place every day). Tell this person to check their mail. And pray.

  1. You’ll fall in love with the place, the people and everything. You will regret any internship you did before, and every internship you do after.

There’s a magic to this office, and there’s no other way to explain it. You learn, and laugh, and make friends. Every single person at the EI office has made my life better in their own way, and I hope I did the same! It’s a crazy place, overrun with wonderful, passionate and caring people who make you glad you’re alive and got to meet them.

(The views and opinions on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent EnAble India)

EnAble India partners with State Bank of India

 

Small profile picture of PraneshPranesh Nagri is the honorary director of EnAble India.

I joined Enable India in April 2011. I started with volunteering, just going through whatever was on the server. It introduced me to Enable India right from the days of its inception. What wonderful work done by Madam Shanti Raghavan and later continued with the efforts of Mr. Dipesh Sutariya and supported by the earliest student and now a senior staff member Ms. Vidya Rao.

At the time of my joining Enable India I was in a discussion with State Bank of India on inclusion of persons with disabilities enrolled by them and never truly employed. State Bank of India is a huge bank, a company to the Govt of India holding the treasury and thus is an important financial structure in the banking fraternity of modern India. As a result of reservation of one per cent posts for persons with disability this and other banks have been enrolling persons with disability on the rolls of the bank. Just because the Banks believe that the persons with disability cannot work in a bank the thus enrolled work force remains without work, non-remunerative. State Bank of India requested Enable India to find out the possibilities of engaging this work force in the banking main stream. Enable India had already before my joining given a formal consent to State Bank of India and had undertaken to work in the area of finding a solution. Thus the team Murali consisting of Murali Kumar and Shiva started working on inclusion of the persons employed by State Bank of India.It was wonderful for me to understand the subject of Human Resources in Banks from disability point of view. The concept of Job Analysis, profiling the employees and customising and designing work processes for them was challenging but of course satisfying.

After an initial analysis of jobs we identified some 19 roles that we said will be performed by the persons with disabilities in state bank of India. We put up a proposal to State Bank of India for piloting the training programme aimed at converting this non-remunerative work force in to a remunerative one. State Bank of India accepted the proposal and thus started the first training with a batch of 20 Visually impaired persons at State Bank Learning Centre at Baswanguddi Bangalore.

The successful completion of this training opened up the possibilities of continuing with the programmes and even training the State Bank trainers for conducting such trainings on their own. Thus, Enable India did a capacity building training programme in the shape of a “training the trainers” programme. State Bank of India has partnered with Enable India in a number of batches being trained under the process. The employees who were thought to be non-remunerative are performing human resource as on today working and managing the HAPPY ROOM (Complaint Cell), ASSET TRACKING CELLS, PASS BOOK PRINTING, GRAHAK MIRTRA SEAT, RECIEPT AND PAYMENTS (LOW VISION PERSONS) and many other seats in the branch and administrative offices. As of today we have proposed to open a centre of Excellence in Banking for State Bank of India which will look after training and employment in respect of persons with disability aiming at being a world class facility in this area.

On 26th April 2014 Enable India entered in to an agreement with three RSETTI institutions of State Bank of India for providing training to persons with disability looking for wage employment and self employment. The agreement was exchanged by Ms. Shanti Raghavan in presence of an august gathering of senior bankers at State Bank of India led by their chairperson Madam Arundhati Bhattacharya . On the occasion two publications of Enable India namely GET INSPIRED –WORKING PROFESSIONALS WITH DISABILITY, BE AN ETHICAL WORKING PROFESSIONAL WITH DISABILITY.

THANK YOU SBI. I AM FEELING PROUD OF INDIAN BANKS.

Make It Happen – 5 jobs you thought people with disability couldn’t do

Varnavi intern at enable india - profile pictureVarnavi is an Intern from Christ University Bangalore, and has been interning with Enable India since April 2014. Coming from a Media and Communication background Varnavi is working on communicating the message of EnAble India to a wider audience. Input for this article from Priyanka Garg, a current EnAble India trainee.

Make It Happen – 5 jobs you thought people with disabilities couldn’t do

Often people with disabilities are considered special, different from others and are hence thought of as not sufficient for certain core jobs. But with the right technological support, daily practice of required skills we can achieve targets and realise dreams. Some examples of jobs being completed by disabled people:

  1. Medicine. Many assume that a person with disability cannot possibly handle a very attentive, accurate and complex job like that of a Doctor. Saving lives, serving the society can be done if you have strong will and determination, it is not limited to any faction of the society, and this fact was proven by many like Dr. Y G Parameshwara, the first Visually Impaired Indian to become a doctor and practice medicine. Dr. Satendra Singh, who was infected with polio at the age of nine but went on to complete his MBBS degree, then completing his MD in physiology and is noted for his efforts in accessibility of public places for the disabled.
  1. Banking and Finance.The banking and money related jobs are often considered tricky for the Visually Impaired and Hearing impaired people, as there is a perception that they can’t identify or comprehend the complex math behind money management. This misconception was cleared to us by Ashish Goyal, the winner of India’s National Award for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities in 2010. Ashish was also the first Visually Impaired student at Wharton Business School, Philadelphia, he now works as a trader and a Risk Manager at JP Morgan’s Chief Investment Office. Ashish makes use of screen reader software to check his e-mails, read research reports and look at presentations, also the two computer screens on his desk, show flashing messages and spreadsheets of constantly changing financial figures linked to headphones, which read out to him in rapid speed. Another area where visually impaired may have faced a problem is in handling cash transactions. They can overcome this effectively by using new technological innovations like Cash Counting Machine, this machine helps the visually impaired not only count cash but also to check whether the currency is real or fake. EnAble India has placed more than 50 physically impaired, hearing impaired, visually impaired people in world renowned banks like State Bank of India, Goldman Sachs, ANZ and Deutsche Bank.
  1. Sports is a field where the people with disability are often not considered, but people like Marla Runyan, an American prolific runner who was the first competitor of Olympic as blind and has been a three time national champion in the women’s 5000 meters is changing perception. Devendra Jhajharia, a physically impaired with an amputated hand, a gold medal winner for Javelin throw in the 2004 summer Paralympics, has shown to the world that his disabilities don’t hinder his enthusiasm and passion for preferred sport.
  1. Hospitality.People often think that Visually Impaired can’t be good managers due to inability to “see” particular issues. Therefore visually impaired persons can’t open any restaurant. But to open any restaurant you need to know the following things like, where to open it, what to cook, what is the current trend, what is the food culture of the place, who is the target customer and how to gather effective man power to do that work. If you are able to achieve these, then no one can stop you from starting your restaurant. One such attempt is the ‘Dark Dine Invisible’ restaurant in Bengaluru which is managed by the visually impaired, the restaurant tries to make the costumers experience dining in the darkness.

Check the link below to know more about the ‘Dark Dine Invisible’ :   http://www.timeoutbengaluru.net/restaurants-caf%C3%A9s/features/see-change

  1. Dance. For a person with physical disability dancing is a big challenge, but with her strong will and passion for dance, Sudha Chandran who lost her leg in an accident accomplished to become a notable Indian classical dancer. She also has been actively involved in acting on television and in movies.

These are just a few stories which prove that disability cannot stop anyone from achieving his/her dreams. Whatever society thinks is impossible for the disabled person is possible, because impossible itself means “I M Possible”.

Love & belief can conquer acid – Haseena’s story

 

Happy International Women’s Day! We at EnAble India wish to celebrate the spirit of an independent Indian woman with the story of Haseena, a woman with amazing courage, confidence and compassion.

At the age of 21, Haseena became a victim of an acid attack and this attack caused her to lose her vision completely. For 10 years, she had to undergo 35 surgeries to reconstruct her face and body and she underwent immense counselling to help her get over the trauma. She was in and out of hospitals and never stepped out of her home to go anywhere else. She was not in touch with the outside world.

At Enable India, Haseena found hope. Her initial days were a trying time for both the trainers and herself. Coming out of her home was a culture shock. Because of the amount of time spent in the hospitals, she never got the opportunity to meet and mingle with people. Her world was black and white. She expected perfect behaviour from everyone she met, with no room for disappointment. We were worried about her job since every job requires interaction and team work. We wanted her to have a full life with friends and family. We believed in her potential. With the love and support of the Enable India trainers, she came out of her shell and learnt to mingle with others and made several friends. One of her first outings was to a park and she even joined the excursion to Nandi Hills with her family and friends. With EnAble India’s encouragement, she learnt to enjoy life and realised even “Haseena can smile”. What changed her life was voluntary work where she had to collect clothes for flood victims where she had to reach out to other people. Volunteering helped her to reconnect with her relatives and friends, with whom she hadn’t spoken to for a long time. The trainers recall when she had to do her presentation in front of a crowd regarding her volunteer work. It was an emotional moment because we had never seen her speak in front of an audience.

The Haseena of today, has become fully confident and independent. In her words, she is not a victim.

She is now working as a stenographer in a government department. She applied for a government job and using assistive technology, she proved to the officials that she could be a productive resource to the government sector.

After losing her vision, Haseena had been scared to walk alone. Her mother had to take her everywhere. During the initial training days, she used to arrive by auto because she was afraid to travel by public transport. With the mobility training, she is now independent and walks to her office all by herself.

Haseena’s tremendous courage had touched the lives of a lot of people. She has earned the respect of her community. She counsels many people who are in depression and has helped many others in need. She has even successfully counselled people with suicidal tendencies. She is actively working towards empowerment of acid attack victims. To prove that she too can lead the same life as others, she does her daily activities independently. She cooks, hangs out with friends, supports her family, fights for justice, and is the role model of a truly independent woman with dignity.

See the article about Haseena in the Hindu: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/with-sheer-grit-haseena-moves-on/article5761533.ece