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Pick festive gifts at amazing prices made at Utthan, a centre for people with mental disabilities

Are you looking for meaningful gifts this festive season? Check out the range of beautiful products handcrafted by members of Utthan, a centre for people with mental disabilities in Ahmedabad.

Torans that capture all the colours and magic of Navratri, necklaces made of thread, silver and beads, to chaniya cholis for little girls. The array of products made by members of Utthan, a non-residential facility for people with mental disabilities in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, is truly stunning.

Every little item shows the pride and care members take, be it in the high quality designs or the fine details. Utthan, which works under the aegis of a trust called Gujarat Stree Pragati Mandal, skills people of 14 years and above. It was launched in October 1978 with seven trainees and today trains 70 people.

The aim, says Nina Nanavaty, President, is to empower people with mental disabilities to lead a life of dignity. To achieve this, Utthan provides opportunities for functional learning and training in pre-vocational and vocational skills.

Over the years, as our trainees grew older, they wished to earn like other members in society. But employment is tough for people with such disabilities and the concept of a Sheltered Workshop, where they could learn, apply the acquired skills and earn some emolument was conceived. - Nina Nanavaty, President, Gujarat Stree Pragati Mandal

Trainees at Utthan are divided into three groups based on skill and extent of disability. In the early stages, they are taught how to make newspaper bags, designer paper bags, files, stationary like note pads, etc. As their skills grow, they learn how to stitch simple bags, purses, make wax diyas, torans, friendship belts, etc.

Some of the most popular items are the fancy paper bags, says Bhavnabehn Pandya, who is a part of the trust. "Many people buy the bags to carry wedding gifts. They are made in varying sizes and in a mix of cloth and paper which makes them durable". Spices and ornaments are also in demand.

"The products are sold in the market and orders are taken according to the specifications of the client", adds Nina. Members here also participate in art and dance competitions. Some have also won medals at the Special Olympics.

"Society believes that it is impossible to train people with mental disabilities but Utthan has transformed that Impossible into Possible", says Nina. "Understanding them is the secret".

If you want to order products from Utthan, contact Bhavnabehn Pandya at +91 94264 19434

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