Started by Anjali, people with disabilities & elderly make beautiful hand-made products at ‘Advitya’ in Mumbai
‘Advitya’ was founded by Anjali from Mumbai almost twenty years back. People with disabilities and elderly make exclusive hand-made products at the center which are sold globally. Anjali talks about her journey towards starting the venture and how ‘Advitya’ and its members have grown over the years.
When Anjali founded ‘Advitya’, her sole aim was to reach out to as many people with disabilities as possible. There were two objectives-to help them engage in activities and also to aid them in earning a living. ‘Advitya’ is now over twenty years old. ‘Advitya’ is an exclusive venture where people with disabilities make hand-made products that are then sold in the market. Founder Anjali talks about her exciting journey of starting the venture and being a known name in Mumbai city.
Founding ‘Advitya’ for disabled people
Most of the youngsters with disabilities who finish school are unable to get jobs due to lack of inclusion at workplaces. So they do not have an option, but to stay at home.
Almost two decades ago, it was worse. Swati, who had Down syndrome, was a student of Anjali who is a special educator too. After school, Swati had to stay at home and she started going through depression because of that. Her mother consulted Anjali and asked her to help Swati get engaged in some activities. Anjali called her and together they started making paper bags. Gradually, Swati loved the activity. She found new friends in the different faces that were drawn on the bags. She even started having conversations with them which helped her.
That is when I realized how such activities help children with disabilities. Since I’am a fashion designer too, I could help these youngsters with colors, knitting and so on. I looked at how Swati expressed herself better, and it was a huge inspiration for me. She came out of depression and got a new lease of life. That is when her mother asked me to do something like this to help other mothers and their children with disabilities. – Anjali, Founder, Advitya
Anjali started working with three girls in her home balcony. Today, they own a bungalow in Santa Cruz where many people with disabiltities and elderly people are part of.
“Since after school they don’t have any activities to engage it, all their energy goes wasted. Their physical and mental health gets affected. The family also finds it difficult to manage them. That is why ‘Advitya’ wants to reach out to them”, says Anjali.
Activities and work at ‘Advitya’
Currently, there are over 30 people with disabilities at ‘Advitya’ between the age group of 18-75 years. There are 27 women from the slums of Mumbai who are also part of the venture. 17 elderly people are also an integral part of ‘Advitya’. Recently, patients with Dementia also joined in. All of them engage in various works.
‘Advitya’ also offers therapy for those who are part of it. Music, color, yoga and animal assisted therapy are some of the main ones that they follow there.
The team at ‘Advitya’ makes paper and cloth bags, wallets, files, silk and brocade products, jewelry boxes, clutches, credit card holders and so many other creative items!
The products are not mostly sold online. Instead, they have stores and a group of regular customers who buy from them. Team ‘Advitya’ has been supplying globally too.
“With the lockdown, things have been difficult for us. But we are keeping them occupied and happy. In our twenty years, many people have come and gone and some others like Swati passed away”, says Anjali who has also adopted a girl with a disability as her own. “There have been ups and down. But the journey was fruitful and great”, she says.
Response from customers
Needless to say, ‘Advitya’ products have a huge fan following on their social media page too. The reviews say so.
“Advitya is such a divine place. The kids are full of life and the handicrafts handmade by them are simply mind-blowing. They are an inspiration to all. I’am extremely touched having visited such a sacred place. Kudos to all the teachers and the whole team at Advitya to make it such a wonderful place. God bless you all. Looking forward to visiting soon again”, says Neha Bokil.
“I’ve known this place for a decade now and their products are awesome. Just purchased handmade folders for folks here and they loved it. Keep up the good work”, says Nayab Patel.
“Amazing work..advitya team. I am truly proud of you”, says Dipti Madan.
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