Bhavnagar: Best for disabled people
A special touch
This otherwise nondescript town in the heart of Saurashtra houses the biggest NGO working among the disabled in the country. The Parsanben Narandas Ramji Shah (PNR) Society for Relief and Rehabilitation of the Disabled has over the past 35 years worked to rehabilitate and empower the disabled in every possible way.
Confident strides: The physically disabled after visiting PNR Society
Here, too, is located an extraordinary private company, Microsign, nearly half of whose employees are disabled in some way. The company supplies components to top level companies like Reliance, Telco, Volvo, ISRO and BHEL. "I get better productivity from my disabled employees than I do from my normal ones," says CEO Nisheeth Mehta. "I don’t believe I’m doing anything altruistic."
Anantbhai Shah, the secretary and moving spirit behind the PNR Society, and Mehta are recipients of numerous awards. Yet they remain virtually unknown outside their immediate circles.
The PNR Society runs a school for hearing impaired children and another for visually impaired children, complete with hostels (for students from class 1 to class 10). It also provides specially designed computers and various techno devices which help the children learn faster. Only those children who are so severely affected that they cannot cope with mainstream schools are enrolled. Beyond the schools, the society also runs a full-fledged computer centre—with 280 students and 30 computers—where a variety of job-related skills are imparted. Its placement rate is 69 per cent!
Then there’s Ankur, a school for the mentally challenged, where they are divided into three broad groups—play group, trainable group and educational group—and are taught skills (including vocational skills) for self-reliant living. Another smaller school caters for victims of cerebral palsy and autism, preparatory to their mainstreaming.
The society’s artificial aids and limbs workshop, headed by Vijay Naik, not only manufactures the usual range of aids for the disabled, but has also obtained five patents for original inventions. Particularly renowned is an artificial foot called the Prabha foot: priced at an economical Rs 4,200, it is a vast improvement on the better known Jaipur foot, being much lighter and bending easily at the knee, enabling the user even to sit cross-legged on the floor! The society also runs a 125-bed hospital, set up in 2000, where the disabled—especially some categories of polio victims—who can be cured or bettered by surgery are treated.
Reaching beyond its premises, the society sends out two teams daily to schools in the district to help children with viewing or hearing problems. Long before Pulse Polio, it had begun holding polio immunisation camps across western India. It also runs courses for teachers and caregivers on how to handle disabled children, and courses which equip midwives to handle pregnancies better and, thereby, reduce disabilities at birth.
Co-ordinator West Zone
Disability Rights Initiative
India Centre For Human Rights & Law
4th Floor CVOD Jain School
84 Samuel Street, Pala Galli,
Dongri, Bombay - 400 009
91 22 23435058
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