Sunday, November 30, 2008

Note On Helan Kellar Award 2008


The National Centre for promotion of Employment for Disabled people -NCPEDP-Shell Helen Keller awards symbolizes leadership, courage and pioneering spirit in the field of disability. Every year, 10 role models are selected – those who have been doing exemplary work towards helping disabled people find positions of equality and dignity in the workplace.

Amuthashanthy from Tamilnadu has been selected as a recipient of The NCPEDP – Shell Helen Keller Award 2008, under Category A: Disabled persons from within and outside the disability sector who have been active as ambassadors of the cause of employment for disabled people and are a positive role model for others. On the occasion of World Disability Day on 2nd December, 2008, in a simple ceremony in New Delhi, Chief Guest Shri Wajahat Habibullah, Chief Information Commissioner gave away the Awards.

It was sheer determination and dedication that got Amuthashanthy, herself a challenged woman born without left fore arm. Moreover, her physical condition didn't deter her to emerge as a champion for the cause of gross root rural disabled women.

Thiyagam Cultural Team

TNKM Cultural

Thiyagam Friends Circle

TNKM Refresher Camp at Nagathirtham

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Thiyagam Women Trust
Annai illam
No.66/44, Kambar Street
S S Colony, Madurai 625 010
Mobile: +919345213417

Thiyagam Stay Home

Thiyagam Stay Home

Thiyagam aims to serve the physically challenged women with joyous smile and contented heart.

During our regular interaction with rural women on various issues, we used wonder why they should not earn their livelihood. Why should they incur the displeasure of their families by remaining confined to their homes? On scrutinizing their problems we come to understand various issues are the reason for their hesitation. Though they are willing to take up any work, they lack training. To get training they have to come to Madurai. It takes around 9 pm to return to their villages from Madurai after attending training, which landing them into lot of hardship. Another reason is lack of transport facility from their villages. Sometimes they have to take three buses to reach Madurai from their villages. If the disability is crawling nature, we can't imagine their plight.

As a solution to their problem we conceived the idea of Thiyagam Stay Home. The Stay Home would provide free shelter to Challenged women coming from villages in and around Madurai. The girls staying here are undergoing training in Thiyagam Computer Centre and also working in Tailoring Unit.

From October 08 onwards we have a separate well furnished Stay Home for challenged girls. They are now comfortable attending to each other needs with enough space, air, water and also cooking for themselves. At present six challenged women are staying in the Stay Home are taking care of each other and live as one family. These girls have to live on the principle of training-learning-earning-living-serving.

Story of Silent Service

- A Simple Biographical sketch of a role model physically challenged woman
“The only handicap is to depend on others. For physically challenged we don’t want any compassion or consolation. We want opportunity to express our talents and earn our livelihood. If the opportunity is given we will prove our ability.”

She is standing at the entrance of a Company with files. Oh, perhaps she might request employment expressing her disability, one might think… Yes. Only half of this is truth. She is seeking employment not for herself but for others… like her to other physically challenged women. With broken feather she walks erect with confidence. She is young, beautiful, dynamic lady doing accounts work in a Theological Seminary in Madurai District of Tamilnadu. She is the only bread winner of her 4 member family. She doesn’t have her left forehand right from her birth. It is difficult to believe but absolute fact. Yes. Amuthashanthy was born with one arm from her birth itself.

When she was born as a girl baby with one hand, her mother Jayamani burst out with a great agony in deep anguish. The relatives advised her mother, ‘your family is not in good condition now. You can better leave the child in the Hospital and through them join her in an orphanage.’ But, the very girl who was referred by relatives as a bane to household has now lighting the lives of so many families – seeing this my heart is full so says her mother Jayamani with tears of joy.

The path Ms Amuthashanthy treaded in the past was not the bed of roses but full of bricks and thorns. She could not crawl in her childhood. The troubles she had to undergone can never be expressed through words but can well be felt in one’s heart. She does not like to be looked after by each and every family member. She had joined in Avvai Ashram in Tirunelveli Dist. managed by Gandhigram Trust at the age of 11 for VIth std., Avvai Ashram is a residential hostel for destitute girls which gave her complete training and moulded her personality in all life skills. She also learnt there tailoring, candle making, camphor making etc. She got State Award in Essay Competition when she was studying her VIIth Std from the then Chief Minister of Tamilnadu. This gave her self-reliance and motivated her to go forward. There she realized the great lesson – ‘Not for you, be ready to be of service to so many like you….’ and which has become her life’s mission. Education has become a passion for her. This passion led her to complete her Post Graduation and join in a decent job though she had to undergo lot of hindrances from family circle.

Her job did not stop her to take up her mission. The pain she had undergone due to physical disability and family circumstances motivated her to dedicate her life to the welfare of her numerous challenged sisters. She was eager that they should not face the struggles and pain she faced in her life. She says, ‘the only handicap is to depend on others. For physically challenged we don’t want any compassion or consolation. We want opportunity to express our talents, earn our livelihood and join the mainstream of society. If the opportunity is given we will prove our ability. She feels for challenged sisters endowed with good talents couldn’t get good opportunity is my concern.’

When she was working in the Seminary, after her working hours she used to spend her time to meet the various needs of Physically Challenged Women (PCW). She used to visit remote villages and identify challenged women in distress who knows no hold for their future. The conditions of many of these girls are very pathetic. Their parents wouldn’t permit them to go outside from home. Due to acute poverty they don’t give them proper education. She talks to them lovingly giving courage and hope. She had to pacify and soothe their hearts with her loving words of solace and concern. These challenged women immediately gather full energy on seeing Ms Amutha Shanthy’s blooming face in spite of the fact she has been carrying on everything with just one hand. They instantly feel that she is their own sister and pour their hearts to her. Her feeling of oneness with the woes of challenged sisters and her deep concern for their welfare draws them towards her.

She says, ‘during weak ends I used to go to their houses and meet them to understand their deplorable situation of discomfort. I bring them to training centre and show them how other challenged women affected with more disability lead a respectable life by earning their own livelihood. Putting them in a positive environment slowly I change their outlook by feeding them with the soothing words of self-confidence. I also see situation vacant in News Papers and visit small industries and private companies to identify vacancies. It would help me to arrange for the placement of deserving challenged women to suitable position.’

Her care and service extends to Visually Challenged and deaf and dumb women. She used to write exams for Visually Challenged girls. She also does regular book reading for them. She gets numerous letters from her challenged sisters and brothers seeking solace and comfort. She answers every one of them giving words of courage and confidence.

When asked what is that inspired Amuthashanthy to take such a decision to plunge in the service of Physically Challenged Women (PCW)? She said, “For last 6 years I got the blessed opportunity to associate closely with the world of PCW. The constant interaction with PCW in rural areas made me to think – I should act. This constant fellowship provided an in depth knowledge to the plight of PCW.

The needs are many. Some of them want to complete their education. Some are seeking an employment. Some wants wheel chair, crutches, tricycle etc. Ultimately they all expect a decent livelihood without depending on any one. Most of them are from very poor economic back ground, rather, struggling to maintain their livelihood.”

“I have made a detailed research into the problems of PCW and subsequent personal visits to remote villages presented me clear action plan seeking permanent solution to their problems. It is great pity to note that many of them are not even aware of the details of grants provided by Government for their development. The deplorable condition is that even after many announcements of grants for the development of physically challenged, not even 1% reaches the ground level. The demonstrations, fasts are done by physically challenged in various districts is only to draw the attention of Higher Authorities to implement the statutes and grants already announced by the Government.”

“Based on the above assessment and being a PCW myself by birth I am convinced that it is my prime duty to bring sunshine to the numerous lives and keenly felt the inner call to dedicate my life for the cause of rural based PCW. Only a PCW knows the real situation of another PCW.”

“No more weeping, no more blaming of any one – up and doing – it is time to arise and awake and stop not till the goal of economic independence of PCW achieved. I strongly believe that mere economic independence without having faith in values of life will never result in contented life. All my efforts will go along with infusing positive approach in PCW by following cardinal values of life.”

When I meet PCW after hearing all their woes I gently ask them to count their blessings. I make a note of all the positive points. No doubt. Physically challenged are facing numerous problems. What about our blessings? I constantly highlight this point to PCW. “When we obtain the help and love from society, we feel, it is our duty to pay forward it to society at large. We can afford to forget anything but not our attitude of gratitude to even a smallest of help we received. We receive love, kindness, care and concern from the society. It is our foremost duty to pay it forward to other sisters who are in similar situation. No one is a stranger in this small world.” Each of the physically challenged sisters of our Centre is inspired to guide and help 10 challenged sisters in their villages.

As I began to interact with PCW I felt deeply wounded and my heart was pierced as it were. I share here few problems faced by PCW.

1. PCW used to go to Employment office. The staff there used to ask them to go and take Xerox copy. Here the PCW may be a person with just one leg. The staff treats this PCW like any other normal person ask them to go and take photo copy without realizing how much hardship it would cause to PCW. PCW may have to cross the roads, wait in the hot sun or traffic.

2. Many of PCW wouldn’t take water or food when they go out just to avoid the nature calls.

3. While traveling in train, most of us may not realize the inconvenience of challenged persons in using toilets with crutches, disability shoes, artificial leg, crawling disability.

4. Rural based PCW condition is still more deplorable. They are not permitted to go to schools because of non-availability of proper transport.

5. It most cases of PCW there is lack of emotional maturity to withstand the problems of day to day life. When asked to one PCW, what is your goal? She simply replied, existence itself is a big question before me – how can I set another goal for me to achieve. One could guess from this she is struggling hard to earn her single livelihood.

6. There is no relaxation or friendly approach in cases like sanction of loan for disabled in Banks and employment opportunities in Govt.

7. The most of the grants announced by Govt. have not been come into effect even after lot of petitions, appeals, fasts, struggles etc. and Non-implementation of the Persons with Disability Act of 1995 has left the physically challenged people high and dry.

8. The world of physically challenged is not expecting any big thing from the society – just a word of encouragement, a pleasing smile and a kind look – this would mean a lot to us.

Ms Amutha Shanthy has resigned her bread-winning job and work full time for her cherished dream to become a reality from 2nd October 2005. She is now running a Tailoring Unit in Madurai in Tamilnadu, where twelve disabled women and four women from very poor families with little education have been provided job training and also earning. The poor women have also been provided free accommodation.

She is also running free tuition centres for poor children in four remote villages near Madurai, by employing four poor and qualified unemployed women (two of them are challenged women) and paying them honorarium. To sustain herself and her activities, Ms Amutha Shanthy is carrying out some part time accountancy work in late night.

Like a typical revolutionary, she has not thought about her own future welfare or as to where she would get the resources from when she left her job and started this small service activity. Anybody who has an opportunity to meet this young lady and discuss the issues with her would be instantly impressed by her extraordinary commitment and conviction for the cause. She says that the only way of ensuring that more physically challenged people are employed in public services is to sensitize them and launch an awareness campaign in their favour.
Counseling to challenged women has become a regular feature for her now. It’s unique sight to see the challenged women visit her place from far off places to get her guidance to make their livelihood meaningful. ‘It’s Always Possible’ attitude has been injected with physically challenged Families during her village visits. Her very life inspires many PCW to take up an upright and meaningful life.
Because of her tireless endeavour, many have completed their studies, many have joined in good employment, and still many have achieved laurels in the Sports field. She is not interested in any kind of awards or felicitations. She dedicates everything to her own challenged sisters. When asked, why she is not evincing any interest in awards, her crisp reply would be ‘if you do it to your own sister will you expect award or honour? I just fall like silent dew on the hearts of my numerous challenged sisters.’

We come across in this world many great achievers who scaled the heights of success. Among these here is one who counts success of any physically challenged women as her own.
Yes! She has no time to thought of her life, the journey of this humble soul is going to a village to wipe the tears of her own challenged sisters. She has a vision to reach out to more and more of her challenged sisters in villages with a mission to enable them to join in the mainstream. A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.

Her contact address:
Ms Amutha Shanthy
Thiyagam Women Trust
Annai illam, No.66/44, Kambar Street,
S.S.Colony, Madurai 625 010
Tamilnadu, India
Landline: 0452-2602195
Phone: +919345213417

Thiyagam family

Thiyagam Narpanbu Kalvi Maiyam(TNKM)


Vision: Man-Making:
To create Role Model citizens in each and every field of our society who will set an example in uprightness, integrity and humaneness.

Thiyagam Narpanbu Kalvi Maiyam(TNKM) initiated by Thiyagam Women Trust, where equal emphasis is given to Values along with academics. TNKM is focusing on the all round development of village children. These centres provide opportunity to regularly discuss and practice Values of life with children. Noble personalities from different fields are invited to share their valuable experiences with children. These will help children to improve their life skills and act in a responsible way in all situations. When these children grow up they would not compromise on the ideals on “Caring Society” set forth before them and become responsible caring citizens.

Focus on – Rural Children:
We have Thiyagam Narpanbu Kalvi Maiyam tuition centres in 8 villages – in Sholavandan Taluk near Madurai where we get space, good teacher and community support. In all the eight centres 310 students are getting the benefit of free evening tuition in life skills and academics.

Progress in TNKM – 2007-08:
Life skills program of TNKM has been strengthened
Academic standards of students enhanced. Students who have failed in subjects earlier have now getting pass marks. Students who were average have been promoted to get good ranks.
Teachers Training program from Experts on the field
A reporting module was set up and was given to teachers to prepare monthly reports
Refresher Camps help children to develop their talents
Celebrated Children’s Day, Republic Day and Independence Day in TNKM villages. The program helped to enhance the interest in social/cultural/country
The impact on the Life Skills program has been closely watched by TNKM team
TNKM Mini Library in all the villages of TNKM centres is in progress
TNKM Cultural Team is emerging in all the TNKM centres

Approach: Life Skills at TNKM:
o Teach through live examples of great ones
o Teach values through small incidents/moral stories
o Cultivate reading habits through library
o Teach self-management in small day to day chores
o Encourage Students to adopt the contents of Thirukkural for life
o Encourage Students to share with other students in school/village the life skills they have learnt at the Centre.
o Encourage personal cleanliness.
o Encourage students to help in identifying and nurture individual talents and give training in folk arts in Camps.
o Adopting and updating TNKM methodology in line with V-Set in moulding teachers and students in creating a harmonious society.

Thiyagam Computer Centre (TCC)

Thiyagam Computer Centre(TCC)
  • Thiyagam Computer Centre(TCC) is started with an aim to empower economically poor, physically challenged rural women, unskilled, semi skilled and skilled job seekers and place them in suitable jobs.
  • TCC offers free training in computer to deprived women and especially, women with disabilities. At present 10 women are getting the benefit.
  • At present three women from Madurai and three women from Cholavandan, altogether six women(three are physically challenged) are getting this benefit.
  • The training consists of Computer Basic Fundamentals, Dos, Windows and Internet. Next step of training is planned in Data Entry, Photo shop, computer accountant, tally etc to prepare the students for job placements.
  • TCC provides individual guidance to choose proper career which offer immediate job placement.
  • TCC motivate and guide the challenged women to take up self employment schemes in their own areas.

Thiyagam Profile

Thiyagam Women Trust

Economic independence of Physically Challenged Women, leading to a self-contented matured life and to cultivate the spirit of mutual love and service, well established in goodness both outwardly and inwardly.

Empowering the rural women with disabilities to earn their livelihood by creating opportunities for self employment and provide environment to take up the challenges of life in an optimistic way with enthusiasm and will power.

Thiyagam – To Challenged Women:
Thiyagam Women Trust is registered under the Charitable Trust Act. To meet the various demands of the challenged women, Thiyagam provides a Stay Home with friendly ambience to join together to uplift themselves.

Thiyagam Women Centre
We have commissioned in April 05 a Tailoring Centre to give training to disabled women. So far 34 women have undergone training and equipped with earning capacity which gave them additional confidence. At present 12 women are actively involved in regular job work and see their own earnings every month. Now they look confident to face the life’s challenges.

Natpu Vattam – Friends Circle
Thiyagam has initiated a unique concept of “Natpu Vattam – Friends Circle. The Physically Challenged Women(PCW) receive love, kindness, care and concern from the society. It is the foremost duty to pay it forward to other challenged women who are in similar situation. That is the real way of showing our gratitude to one who helped us. The PCWs of Thiyagam are encouraged to guide and share the information in their villages to other challenged sisters to improve their education and standard of living.

Counseling has become increasingly one of the major areas of services extended to PCWs by Thiyagam on education, employment and life. Suitable counseling and direction is given to solve the personal problems arising out of emotional sickness. We initially guide the Challenged Women to find the means for day-to-day living and enable them to be economically independent within a shortest possible time. We also provide all the updated information and opportunities available from Govt. and Private Sectors and facilitate employment opportunities. Thiyagam gets regular phone calls and numerous letters from Challenged Women requesting for aid and counseling.

Thiyagam Narpanpu Kalvi Maiyam(TNKM)
We have started Thiyagam Narpanbu Kalvi Maiyam(TNKM), Centre for Humane education, evening tuition centres during Sept. 2005 in 5 villages near Madurai where we get space, good teacher and community support. In all the five centres, around 165 students are getting the benefit of education in values absolutely free. In these villages we have appointed teachers with disabilities.
These centres also help us to identify Physically challenged children which enable us to give them special attention. TNKM is giving equal emphasis to Values along with academics. These centres provide suitable environment to imbibe Value themes by children.
These will help children to improve their life skills and act in a responsible way in all situations. When these children grow up, they would not compromise on the ideals set forth before them and become emotionally matured and socially responsible citizens.

Thiyagam solicits your whole hearted guidance support and co-operation.
No.66/44, Kambar Street, S. S.Colonly, Madurai – 625 010
Ph: 0452-2602195 - E-mail:


Thiyagam Activity - A glance

Thiyagam - Activities at a glance

o Focus: Empowering rural women with disabilities
o Conducting special training programs for Physically Challenged Women (PCW) and also women in distress living in rural areas to promote the development opportunities.
o Running and maintaining a Tailoring Unit for PCW enabling training and earning capacity and so far 40 challenged women have empowered by the Unit.
o Running and maintaining a Free Stay Home for PCW coming from rural.
o Running a Computer Centre giving basic training in System to secure immediate employment o Arranging to provide Wheel chair, three wheeler scooter and crutches to PCWs through service organizations
o To give counseling and referral service on employment and also other issues relating to Challenged Persons.
o Thiyagam Self-Help group formed to encourage self employment.
o Thiyagam Cultural team formed to spread happiness and awareness.
o Thiyagam Narpanbu Kalvi Maiyam(TNKM) evening free tuition centres in five villages around Madurai is running to flower humaneness in students and to create Role Model citizens in every field of our society who will set an example in uprightness, integrity and humaneness.