For over a year now, Essar Bulk Terminal Limited (EBTL), Hazira and Essar Foundation have been supporting Mavjat, a parents' association of mentally challenged children in Surat. The program works with children with special needs to train them in vocational skills, sports and performing arts. The objective is to develop these capabilities to help the children attain self-confidence and facilitate mental growth. The special children are sponsored and encouraged to take part in district, state and national level competitions of performing arts, sports and other categories.
Says Rajiv Agarwal, MD and CEO, Essar Ports, "It is a privilege if we can do something to support differently abled children. If the children are able to be trained to be self-sufficient, they can blend in and lead normal lives. The basic aim is to ensure they are happy, healthy and independent."
As part of this effort, EBTL, Essar Foundation and Mavjat recently organized a cultural program in Surat especially for Surat Police. The event was held on August 18, 2014, where the children enthralled the audience with their performances, which included well-coordinated group songs, skits and individual performances. The show was loudly cheered by about 1,000 people in the audience, including 500 Surat Police personnel and their families. It was the first time such an event took place on such a large scale.
Several luminaries graced the cultural evening, including Mr Rakesh Asthana, Commissioner of Police, Surat; Dr Rajendra Kumar, District Collector; Mr Niranjan Janzmera, Mayor, Surat; Dr Daxesh Thakkar, Vice Chancellor, South Gujarat University, Surat; and well-known film actress Ms Padmini Kolhapure, along with officials from EBTL senior management including Mr Deepak Berry, Head and VP, Accounts and Finance and Vikas Singh, Head HR and Admin.
In an earlier initiative, a four-day vocational training workshop was organized in Surat in April 2014. The tailor-made workshop was attended by about 150 special needs children who were trained in making handicrafts and stationery items. EBTL and Essar Foundation have also sponsored children to the Asia Pacific Regional Games of the Special Olympics held at Newcastle, Australia. Children with talent were identified with Mavjat's help. The team returned with impressive performances and a tally of medals. At an event held in January 2014, the current Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel felicitated the medal winners, their coaches and caretakers.
The positive impact of the program has led EBTL and Essar Foundation to plan ways to strengthen the association with Mavjat. Deepak Berry says that future plans include identifying the needs of the children, talking to schools in the area and exploring the possibility of setting up a separate school for training. New activities are being explored which will add to the well-being of the special children.