March 25, 2009 2:38:59 am
Ismail Attar,in his late 20s,was working with a harnessing unit,Mindas Limited,in Chakan that supplied vehicle parts to manufacturers. The unit shut down three months back and 450 workers along with Ismail were left jobless.
Ismail is a visually-impaired father of a month-old baby. Mahadeo,who also used to work with Mindas,stays with his elder brother and sister-in-law and all the three are visually-impaired. Ismail and Mahadeo are two of the 12 visually impaired people who have lost their jobs in Mindas.
With a bleak future ahead,they now have only one ray of hope. The team of 12 visually impaired workers is now depending on an orchestra (band) they had started four years ago.
Ismail,who is a graduate,says,”I was with the company for two and half years and was earning Rs 4,500 per month. It was after a lot of struggle that I had got the full-time job. In today’s conditions,it seems unlikely that we will get another.”
Ismail has started working part-time with a voluntary organisation,Childline,but,as he says,the income hardly suffices for the family of three.
“We had formed the all-blind orchestra ‘Sur Sangam’ four years ago in a bid to do something new,” said Ismail. The orchestra includes all the 12 persons who were laid off along with three others. They had performed hundreds of shows in Pune,Mumbai,Nagpur and other places over the last four years,after taking time out from their routine.
Today Ismail and the others are depending on the orchestra for their income. “On an average,we get three shows a month and earn about Rs 150 per head per show,” said Ismail. They are also associated with Nirmalya Trust,a voluntary organisation that helps physically challenged and spastic youth to become financially independent.
Meena Bedarkar,founder of the Trust,said,It is unfortunate. These 12 persons are qualified professionals in their field. But,it is a fact that many companies prefer those with vision to these 12. We are hoping that organisations and individuals come forward to hire their orchestra.
Some of them are are undergoing the radio jockeying course at Seamless Education. However,we are not sure if we will be hired. The picture will be clear only after we complete the course after three months, they said.
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