Sugandha Sukrutraj is economically empowering adults with moderate and severe intellectual disabilities through her pioneering visual and functional learning curriculum. Sugandha’s exclusive curriculum for the community enables them to do specific low-skill IT jobs and is most effective when tutored by peers.
With no knowledge of alphabets from any language, AMBA’s unique curriculum and model of learning enables this community to grasp alphabets, numbers and words as images. This ensures effective and accurate data entry using the computer within 6 to 12 months. Sugandha collaborates with special institutions across the country and guides them into becoming hubs for training and employment by using AMBA’s ‘Learn and Earn’ concept. As part of this, a special educator and 2 youngsters with moderate intellectual ability come from every special institution to experience the peer-driven process at the base centre in Bangalore. While, the visiting peers are trained to become peer trainers, special educators are exposed to the limitations they have to work within and the end picture they need to strive for. The AMBA concept is being presently used by 75 special institutions in 15 states across India. While, 25 centres have completed training, 12 centres have experienced work and 45 centres are undergoing training.
Sugandha creates a suitable environment for these adults, who lack social or reasoning skills, to work. Through the AMBA Centers for the Economic Empowerment of the Intellectually Challenged (CEEICs), she integrates them into the mainstream and gives them a sense of purpose. The AMBA CEEICS match work from mainstream organizations with the training. A core team comprising of peers, manages the day-to-day work and ensures that results are delivered within timelines with the help of an efficient tracking system that monitors the remote centres. AMBA has successfully finished projects with the Adiga Hotel Chain, Taj Hotels, Airtel, Idea and ING Life, to name a few. These work opportunities have transformed the outlook of the families towards the communities’ image as an expense account to an income provider. The community speaks up for themselves at promotional events and board meetings and raise funds while finding better opportunities. Sugandha has also organised the successful signature campaign, ‘Be a Fan of Dignity’, to sensitize school kids about intellectual disabilities in the process gathering 11 million signatures from 14 states in India. She plans to organise a similar campaign with the police force, armed forces security, railways personnel and the larger public and a large-scale event at the end of 2014 to promote the communities’ ability in a mainstream circumstance.
Sugandha plans to expand her work to another 5 states in India during 2014-15 and complete training for another 500 collaborative centres by 2020 with 6000 intellectually challenged people trained and employed. She wants to eventually develop infrastructure that will help 30,000-50,000 youngsters. Sugandha also plans to build an AMBA campus by December 2016 to create a hub that will not only provide training and employment opportunities, but, also, support remote centres, act as a research and development centre and a residential facility.
Note: This was updated in August, 2014. Read on for the ELECTION profile