Sarthak Educational Trust Response to COVID-19

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    Sarthak Educational Trust | Empowering The Differently Abled

     

    About US


    Sarthak Educational Trust is a Non Government Organization which is working towards the empowerment of people with disability. It was founded by Dr. Jitender Aggarwal who was a Dentist by profession but lost his central vision due to a genetic disorder called the macular degeneration. He could not practice dentistry and hence he himself got trained in medical transcription (a then known profession for people with visual impairment). After he completed his training, he realized that that the opportunities for job were very less. This combination of personal loss as well the empathy with other fellow people with disability encouraged him to start the organization which will dedicatedly work towards the employment of people with disability, and it is now known as SARTHAK.

    Today Inclusion, Empowerment, and Mainstreaming of Persons with disability is the guiding principle of Sarthak Educational Trust. Through its dedicated efforts in the areas of Early Intervention, Inclusive Education, Skill Building, and Placement, Advocacy Generation, Abilympics and India Disability Empowerment Alliance. Sarthak is present in 23 locations namely Chandigarh, Ambala, Lucknow, Jaipur, New Delhi (3), Gurugram, Ghaziabad (2), Bhopal, Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Vishakhapatnam, Thane, Chennai, Banaras, Virar, Thiruvantrapuram, Bhatinda, Ludhiana and Ahmedabad.

    The great journey of Sarthak began with a batch of 8 blind students in Delhi and now through its 23 Skill Building Centers across India, Sarthak has trained and placed more than 34,300 and 23,450 PwDs. respectively In addition, 2670 and 500 children with disability have been also rehabilitated through its 'Early Intervention' and 'Inclusive Education' initiatives.

    Sarthak is an ardent believer of inclusive set up of education to pave the path of inclusive society and have successfully rehabilitated school going children with disability in mainstream schools through sensitization of various stakeholders and remedial classes. NAAI ( National Abilympics Association of India), NGO Capacity Building Program, Accessible Event Management Support, Online Parents Interaction Forum, India Disability Empowerment Alliance are some of the other initiatives, where Sarthak is actively engaged and is making immense contribution to the cause of PwD’s.


     

    Vision

    An India where PwDs live
    with dignity

    Mission

    Empower PwD through Skill Building and Employment

    Strategy

    To establish Sarthak Aadarsh Kendras across the nation

    Values

    Sarthak is aimed towards carving an equal stature for persons with disability by providing them a platform wherein, they have equal access to opportunities and resources.

    S: Social Justice: We provide differently abled individuals equal access to resources.

    A: Approachable: We will make ourselves approachable to all PwD through digital and physical means, as applicable

    R: Respect: We respect individuals as they are

    T: Trust: We believe in human values rooted in trust and affection

    H: Honesty: We work with a sense of purpose and enthusiasm

    A: Alumni: Our alumni is our family! We want to make it bigger everyday.

    K: Kindness: Whatever we do, will be based on kindness towards the people we serve

     

    Dr Jitender Aggarwal's Journey

    Giving Wings to Dreams (An Article Published in Dignity Dialogue)

    Days merged into nights and the phone wouldn’t stop ringing. With two dental clinics to manage in West Delhi between him and his wife, and a three-year-old to come back to, life was as perfect as it could be. “At least that is what I thought,” Dr. Aggarwal says with a smile.

    But the best was yet to come his way, like Dr Jitender Aggarwal puts it. In 2004, while he was examining a patient’s mouth, it seemed blurry. He adjusted the light overhead, but it didn’t help much. Must be the exhaustion of the extended hours, he decided and began the next day, just like another. Till he noticed his vision still seemed cloudy. The ophthalmologist confirmed that ‘macular degeneration of retina, which was to slowly but surely result in vision loss’ had set in his eyes. “I did not know what hit me. The day passed in a haze”, he recalls. How would their lives pan out, he wondered. What about his work? The old lady, whose root canal had two more sittings left. How would he look in a beard, if he couldn’t shave, how would he drive to his clinic? These and a million other questions crowded his mind. Perhaps the diagnosis today was just a bad dream? May be he would wake up the next morning and everything would be just fine.

    Sadly, it wasn’t so. He was angry, utterly dejected, irritable, sometimes all of this and much more. Born in a small Haryana village, in a family of small shopkeepers, he had worked hard, attended Dental College in Karnataka, set up a successful practice, married another dentist, opened a second clinic and the couple had become sort of celebrities back home. And, now this! “Why me?” he often wondered. Next two years, were the toughest of his life. From being a recluse to shouting sprees to becoming suicidal, he went through it all. ‘It was like I was in the middle of a storm with something new hitting me each time. It is not easy to see something so precious slipping away. I felt so helplessness” he says honestly.

    Looking back, he can’t thank God for making him go through this phase of life.”If I hadn’t lost my vision, I would still be examining people’s mouth and seeing the filth” he chuckles. “Surely, God had a plan for me” he adds. What he does now, he says, is so much more important. You get a better sense of it when you see it for yourself in the eyes of Reena Chaterjee whose son works as a delivery boy at Flipkart. He can’t hear but can lip read with perfection. Or in the bright orange nail paint of visually impaired Neetu who works as a therapist in a posh office at Gurugram. "It is brilliant to help the ladies relax while I help them with a shoulder and neck massage. It gets tiring to work on computers for them, all day, after all" she smiles. Then there is a handsome young man, named Shadab who is riddled by Polio but his sharp mind helped him get a job as an accountant at IBM. These and are just some of the many who have been trained at Sarthak, that has helped over 20,000 people with "disabilities" not just get trained but also find jobs. Some with five star hotels, others with MNCs or at leading retail groups. All of this says Dr Aggarwal happened because he lost his eyesight. “Today I am so thankful to God that it happened because if it didn’t, how could I help so many people lead a life of dignity? I was living in my own world and now here is this new world where every little thing that I am able to do for someone, means so much more,” he says with a Zen like persona.

    But how did the transformation from the frustrated young doctor grappling with a sudden physical challenge into a patient middle aged social entrepreneur happen?

    Gradually of course. “After I was done feeling angry and frustrated, seeing my wife run the clinics while managing our son, I knew I could not sit and mope. So I decide to think of some work, I could do. I learnt of medical transcription and found it was something I could do thanks to my background as a doctor. Of course there were frustrations along the way but by then I began to realise that I had a situation to face and it was up to me to handle the same or sit and feel angry. Working around it, seemed more logical and a little less frustrating“ My college mate Dr Dinesh Jain - now a trustee of Sarthak - was a great source of strength through the long ordeal during which I tried my hand at many things - teaching at AIIMS, Dental Equipment business, medical transcription et all.

    One day, a thought dawned on me. “Weren’t there, many others like me grappling with many disabilities? I had some kind of financial backup, several others didn’t. Couldn’t I help a few others pick up what I was doing? People gave them charity, some even trained them but no one empowered them by finding sustainable jobs”.

    That thought was the birth of Sarthak Educational Trust. After he trained a few visually impaired who were taught medical transcription and they found work, Dr Aggarwal felt the happiness he hadn’t in years. It was a high. Soon he decided to turn part of his wife’s clinic into a training center. This was in 2008. Today, Sarthak has a full-fledged office in Delhi, 23 other training centres all over India, has placed 23,450 Divyangs so far and trained 34,300. A three month course helps individuals with various disabilities pick up life skills and be market ready.

    Of course it was not an easy journey but Dr Aggarwal thrives on these challenges. “When you know you are helping someone become self supportive and lead a life of dignity, there is no better feeling”, he says. Along the way, many individuals helped him; Ranjan Chopra generously gave hired office space, Sandeep Bhargava got him a grant from Nokia, Tech Mahindra sponsored the first Skill Development Centre, ITC’s Niranjan Khatri and MDI’s Neelu Bhullar constantly gave great advice and the latter also introduced him to Management Guru Dr Athreya who has been regularly mentoring Sarthak since 2010. Later NSDC, Capgemini, The Hans Foundation, Credit Suisse and many others came forward with handsome grants for more and more centres.

    What also drives him is the change in attitudes he has seen over time. "We have placed a number of youngsters at five star hotels, besides a number of leading MNCS, restaurants and retails spaces. Not because these organisations are doing charity but because they actually feel that these youngsters have skill sets that they need and that they are so much more dedicated to their jobs. This dedication stems from the faith that these companies have shown in their capabilities and given them a chance to be financially independent. It is a mutually satisfying association.”

    An active cricketer and movie buff at one time, Jitender Aggarwal now uses his spare time - if at all - visiting temples wherever he travels; he has an unshakable faith in "Ishwar Kripa".

    Read more...

    The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) needs every country to judiciously prioritize, and adapt the goals and targets in accordance with local challenges, capacities and resources available. Sarthak Educational Trust has been working through its projects to contribute to the Global Sustainable Development Goals. Through our programs across India, we are trying to target the following goals:

    Goal No. 3 - Ensure Healthy Lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

    Goal No. 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all

    Goal No. 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

    Goal No. 10 - Reduce Inequalities

     

     
     
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