Srishti, Tata Tea's umbrella welfare centre in Munnar focuses on enhancing the hidden talents of differently abled children, most of whom are from the families of local tea pluckers of Munnar. Srishti runs three projects that aim to equip disabled children to secure a better future: Development Activities in Rehabilitation (Dare), a centre for special education; Aranaya, a natural dye project; and Athulya, which manufactures handmade paper and paper products.
Dare, launched in November 1991, was the first of Srishti's initiatives and its motto — 'They who do not dare to win have already lost' — explains its rationale. Teachers trained in special education focus on the children's abilities rather than their disabilities. Here children are initially taught motor and cognitive skills and, later, basic skills for day-to-day living and elementary social skills (like shopping for vegetables).
Aranya, the second project, started in 1994, trains and employs disabled youngsters to extract dyes from natural sources and colour different fabrics. Munnar is rich in natural colour sources such as eucalyptus, mulberry, roots and barks. Tea waste produces dyes in a unique shade of green, and this is available in plenty from the Tata Tea gardens. Aranya uses only natural dyes, not synthetic ones, and this has become its calling card. These youngsters now execute orders for designers from Europe and Britain. To help them expand their horizons and keep up with the latest trends, designers are invited to conduct workshops at Munnar. Teachers are also sent abroad for training.
The third project, Athulya, was started in 1999 as an envelope-cutting unit for handicapped children. Today it makes paper and paper products (gift bags and envelopes, photo frames and wine bags) from recycled organic waste. The products are retailed in Munnar by the Tata Tea Wives' Welfare Association. Athulya has got large orders from Japan and Britain.
Srishti also runs a strawberry-preserve unit where children grow strawberries, harvest and clean them, and make the preserve, which is free of additives and preservatives.
Here enthusiasm is a sign of spiritual health and imperfections are what make you beautiful…