CHENNAI: For 55-year-old Janarthanan, whom nobody was willing to employ due to his hearing and speech impairment, a job at Chennai Corporation has come as a blessing. “I stayed back at home for most of my life and my wife was a tailor. As I am disabled, not many places welcomed me for a job until now,’’ he explains in sign language as a corporation staff translates it.
Along with Janarthanan, 11 other disabled people were recruited for jobs in the Solid Waste Management section by the civic body a week ago. They were appointed under the National Urban Livelihood Mission, and were trained to speak in sign language by ‘We Are Your Voice’, an NGO. Among the other recruits, 25-year-old Gowtham says in sign language that he feels respected and valued to be working for the city corporation. He now works at the Sathangadu composting yard in Thiruvottriyur Zone.
“Earlier, I worked as a bike mechanic and later, as an AC mechanic. My employers didn’t pay me well and exploited me. However, now, things have changed and we enjoy working here,’’ says Gowtham. Janarthanan, who also works in the same composting yard, says his job is to segregate wastes and then prepare the biodegradable waste for making manure,’’ he said.
The job with the corporation has also provided 50-year-old Thirunavukkarasu a new lease of life. “My son left me long ago due to my disabilities and I suffered from abject poverty. I feel recognized with this job and it pays well too,’’ Thiruvanukkarasu says fighting tears. Corporation staff say that it was not at all hard for the workers to accustomed to the work as they were very proficient in communicating with sign language and there was already a person in the team who reads sign language.
“Even otherwise, they understand if we show general signs and they follow instructions quickly,” conservancy supervisor at the composting centre Ravi said. The recruitment of disabled persons was a pilot project, and it would soon be extended to other zones in the city.