The monsoons are already here and most of us would be digging in our attics or cupboards for that umbrella. Well, this year get yourself an umbrella that will not only protect you from the rains but will also support an NGO that employs blind and differently abled people.
Since 2018, a small manufacturing unit in Tagore Nagar, Vikhroli, a suburb of Mumbai has been rolling out colourful umbrellas in all sizes – what’s different about them? They are all made by blind and differently abled men and women as part of the National Association of Disabled’s Enterprises (NADE).
NADE started as a Blind Cooperative in 1972. Now it provides special education to mentally challenged children and vocational training, employment, self-employment and other welfare opportunities to unemployed disabled persons like Visually Impaired, Hearing Impaired, Orthopaedically Challenged and Mentally Challenged persons from all over India. There are now several cooperatives in Pune, Mumbai and other places where job works are taken up and the income is distributed to the differently abled, based on the amount of work they put in or the number of pieces they produce.
The umbrellas are sold under the brand name, Nethra. Nethra means eyes in Sanskrit. This project’s aim is to offer a ray of hope through which the blind and the differently abled can ‘see’ a better future for themselves.
Around 35 people are involved in the umbrella production.The job involves all categories of differently abled people. Visually impaired people assemble the shafts and ribs of the umbrella which is the main work, Hearing and Speech impaired people sew the canopy to the ribs, Mentally challenged people help in labelling and packaging of the final product, while Orthopaedically Challenged people conduct a thorough quality check.
NADE also employs skilled and able-bodied/experienced workers and supervisors to support them as well as to ensure strict quality, timely completion, and delivery of the products and services. They double check the umbrellas with the aid of an exhaustive quality checklist. Engaging able-bodied people ensures an inclusive culture which promotes responsible living.
K N Radhakrishnan Nair, Founder and Hon Secretary General/Trustee of NADE says, “Because of the COVID-19 situation, there is currently financial stress due to possibility of a washout of sales in the second consecutive monsoon. Last year 50,000 umbrellas were made by the workers (Aug 2019 to Feb 2020). We source the MS steel frames from Rajasthan from where most branded umbrellas also source their steel."
Sales of Nethra Umbrellas is mainly through word of mouth and platforms like Whatsapp. "Social Media has helped create awareness about Nethra umbrellas. Last year we even got enquiries from various countries like UK, Australia, Netherlands, Switzerland etc but unfortunately we couldn’t service those orders as our stocks got over and we couldn’t replenish stocks due to the pandemic,” adds Nair.
This year too they have received orders for nearly 25000 umbrellas out of the inventory of 50.000 umbrellas.
For home delivery, Nethra Umbrellas has an arrangement with a courier service that offers the NGO a minimum charge which is included in the cost of the umbrella.
Nethra Umbrellas come in 2-fold and 3-fold automatic versions for both men and women. For women various styles and colours are available, for men only in black. The 2-fold umbrellas are slightly more bigger than the 3-fold ones.
The 3-fold umbrellas are quite compact and can fit into anything from a pocket to a purse and even small briefcases. There are various designs available in both 2-fold and 3-fold umbrellas, and they also come in mono colours ranging from black to the colours of the rainbow. These umbrellas are quite sturdy, as they have been tested successfully to take the pressure in a crowded Mumbai local train during peak rush hours.
To support the cause and buy your Nethra Umbrellas kindly send your inquiries to 022-25779600/71 or 9137239065 or on email@example.com
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