From their Mann to yours

Updated: Feb 18, 2020, 09:36 IST | Anindita Paul | Mumbai

This festival aims to shatter stereotypes about disabled individuals by bringing them into the spotlight

A performance at Mannifest 2019
A performance at Mannifest 2019

As per the 2011 census, roughly 26.8 million Indians are stricken with some type of disability. While several government policies have emphasised the enormous need to protect rights of these individuals and ensure their complete participation in society, it cannot be denied that the opportunities offered to them are limited both in scope and volume. It is this lacuna that the Mann Centre for Individuals With Special Needs seeks to address, says co-founder Beverly Louis. "Our organisation works towards training disabled adults from underprivileged backgrounds in employable skills. Our goal is to help them build their livelihoods and achieve their dreams," she says. Having worked in this sphere for 16 years, Louis has observed that adults with disabilities are often excluded from the narrative when it comes to skill and income generation, largely because of popular perception of their abilities and aspirations. "Many of them are capable and eager to pursue their wants and needs. Individuals from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, already have a strong financial burden. The disability adds to that. They find it difficult to access training and provide a future for their children. Our organisation offers such adults an intensive three-year training and counselling programme," Louis adds.

A performance at Mannifest 2018
A performance at Mannifest 2018

This programme is completely donation-driven and enables 50 adults to graduate into employable roles every year. "The cost for sponsoring these 50 adults is R5 lakh. We decided to host our first ever fundraising event last year, Mannifest. This year, we are back with our second edition," says Louis. In addition to fundraising, she also views the event as a platform to help change preconceived notions about people with disabilities. "Through performances and speaking opportunities, we want to help shatter stereotypes and help others understand that these individuals are just like us," she says. This year, Mannifest will feature performances by Divine and the Gully Gang as well as Rahul Vaidya. "I learned about this initiative from a friend. It is a cause that is close to my heart as a child who came from the streets and was often written off, I too harboured dreams and aspirations. I was certain that nothing would become of me. I think everyone deserves the opportunity to pursue their passion, regardless of their physical or financial abilities. I also encourage other musicians and artistes to support this cause," says Divine. The organisers are also offering raffle tickets which attendees can purchase, to win prizes from major brands who are lending their support to this initiative. Food counters will also be set up, serviced by students trained in F&B skills.

students at Mann Centre
Students at Mann Centre

Importantly, Louis is eager for attendees to understand that a little push from their end can help this initiative go further. "Many people want to help out but don't know how. Through Mannifest, we hope to help them play a role in securing someone's future," she says.

Beverly Louis, Divine
Beverly Louis, Divine

On February 21, 7.30 pm
At St Andrew's Auditorium, St. Dominic Road, Bandra West.
Log on to www.insider.in
Cost Rs 200

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