So we are over the media blitzkrieg and back to business as usual – almost. The questions from parents and guardians continue. “Will you take my son/daughter?” “They love to cook!” Questions come from as far off as Thane and as close as Vile Parle. We would love to take in your son and daughter…. After all, Raees, who resisted us for many months and kept a sullen silence, now smiles and greets every one as he walks in the door… we must be doing something right. Our space is just very small.

But, more importantly, there is one notion out there that we are working hard to change.

Many of these conversations go the following way:

“My (adult) needs a place to keep him/her occupied.”

“He/she needs to be kept busy… needs something to do…”

We, at Yash Charitable Trust and specifically Arpan are not (emphasis added) about keeping our young folks “occupied” or “busy” or giving them “something to do”.

We are about including them and valuing their contributions to our community. We are about respecting them as individuals first. And appreciating what they bring.

During the last few weeks, we have had a certain amount of chaos due to the inundation of phone calls and individuals calling in to try a dabba. Our folks have been amazingly resilient in their ability to deal with the madness that temporarily ensued. They chipped in wholeheartedly, in some cases, took initiative and they did what needed to be done – in less than ideal conditions.

We are about supporting our folks (in whatever way we can) in attaining a quality of life that we all aspire for.

We have chosen food as an option for supported employment because it is a necessary commodity and very viable.

There are a myriad of other possibilities. For example:

Our folks keep our tiny garden looking green and healthy. If we had space, we would set up a nursery.

Our folks are getting very adept at packing, sealing, labelling and pricing. At this time we do sprouts and ginger garlic paste. These skills could easily be translated elsewhere.

At Arpan, the ancient Sanskrit verse Atithi Devo Bhavah holds true – we do consider our guests as God and we make great hosts. Perhaps a tea house next…