Giving a Job & Hope to People with Special Needs

This story comes from Caroline Boudreaux of The Miracle Foundation. Caroline just returned from India, where she was visiting numerous orphanages and other NGOs to potentially partner with her foundation. This inspirational account of a great organization and idea makes total sense – and makes you wonder why more people aren’t doing this kind of work. From Caroline:

In Bangalore now. Was picked up by the driver of Ashok Giri who is a fellow YGL that I met at Harvard. The driver handed me a McDonald’s bag with a fish sandwich, french fries and a diet coke. It was awesome.He wanted to give me an Indian welcome western style. SO SWEET.

We drove an hour to his office where Subhash Dhar was also waiting for me. Ashok and his wife run a for profit data entry company and employ only people with special needs. He is so on to something here. Deaf people use sign language to communicate and sign language is in English (who knew). So all his deaf employees come to him already reading and writing English. Most call centers/ companies that do this kind of wok in India promise their customers that all their staff will have a college degree. He won’t make that promise and doesn’t have to. There simply aren’t enough college seats to accept this group of people and there are no concessions for them in college. If you’re special needs and want to work, it is very difficult to find a job unless, you call Ashok. If you’re special needs with a 10th standard education and want to work, he’ll find a job for you.

Photo by Caroline Boudreaux

To that end, they print and mail out over three million letters of correspondence a month for companies throughout India so there is a whole section of people just stuffing envelopes and putting on labels. It is unbelievable how much more they are able to produce than their competitors. First, special needs people who are educated are so frustrated by not being able to work and find a job that their motivation is HUGE.

Second, after a year, he gives them a share of the company (a relatively new thing in India only made legal in 2008). Third, with the exception of the click of computer keys, they’re entering thousands of pieces of data in total silence. This amount of concentration makes his employees 800% (a real number) more efficient than his nearest competitor. Since his employees come from all over the country to find good work, he also has a hostel next door where they can live. He told story after story of people who would do anything to prove they could work just as well and hard as someone without challenges.

One man with polio asked him to race up the stairs. Ashok, who has a really fun sense of humor agreed. The man with polio won. That man was his second employee, married a deaf girl he met here three years ago and both were out on maternity leave welcoming their first baby, a boy. He knows sign language (which he learned and says he can teach me) in ten days. It is amazing. Now he’s considering offering a medical transcriptions to doctors and hospitals and will hire blind people to do the work. He asked a blind woman who was looking for a job if she could type. She said she could and asked her to come in for a test. He asked her to type as he read the newspaper to her and after the third line, she told him to please read faster. He and his wife (who is the visionary behind this whole concept) have only been in business five years and have over 200 employees. It is awesome.

About Shelley Seale

I'm Shelley, a journeyer and learner of the world, freelance journalist and author, yoga chick and dog lover. I pound the keyboard from home barefoot every day, and while my boss is demanding she also occasionally lets me have the early afternoon cocktail. I think not going into an office or collecting corporate paychecks are very good ideas, though not always profitable. I have written for National Geographic, USA Today, The Guardian, Texas Monthly and CNN, among others. Neither the New York Times nor Johnny Depp have answered my letters yet. I love yoga, indie movies, wine, and books, though not necessarily in that order. I believe in karma. Mean people suck. If I could have any dream job I would like to be a superhero. I have performed a catch on the flying trapeze, boarded down a live volcano and was once robbed by a monkey in Nepal. But, I don't know how to whistle. My mantra is "travel with a purpose."

Posted on June 26, 2011, in education, India, inspiration and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. i just want the address of this person. I have a son with special needs who knows computer typing.

  2. hi i need job badly…. i want the ph no of this person…. plz help me…prema

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