Site Director, CORD orphanage, Chinmaya Vijaya
Dr. Mukkamala began her medical studies in India, finished her pediatric residency at Hurley Hospital in the USA, and then worked at Hurley for 20 years. She has been in the US since 1970. In 2006, she fulfilled her childhood dream of opening Chinmaya Vijaya, an orphanage for girls. It began in a small building with three girls taken in by her and her husband, Dr. Appa Rao Mukkamala, and has grown into a successful, well-operated facility for young girls since 2007.
Site Director, CORD Thiruvallur
After her Master’s in Computer Science in the US, Priya worked with JP Morgan & Chase, a multi-national bank, for five years. She and her husband left their job in the USA to study Vedanta in Mumbai for two years. After her orientation and training at CORD Training Center Sidhbari in 2014, she joined the CORD site at Thamaraipakkam (since 2023 known as CORD Thruvallur) in 2014 and became its site director in 2016.
Site Director, CORD Lathikatta
Inspired by the vision and work of Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Kevlananda is an Acharya in the Chinmaya Mission and works presently as Secretary of the Chinmaya Seva Trust in Rourkela, Odisha. He is involved in educational, tribal, and social development work besides being the site director of the CORD site in Lathikatta since its inception in 2005.
Site Director, CORD Deuladiha
Alok’s journey in CORD has been interesting. He joined the Chinmaya Samaj Sevak Course in December 2009. On July 1, 2010, he joined the CORD site at Deuladiha as a Community Development Worker (Senior). In 2012, he was promoted to Community Development Officer. In 2019 he became the Deputy Director and in April 2023 Alok became the site Director for CORD Deuladhia.
Site Director, CORD Siruvani
Dr. Meera Krishna, an obstetrician, and gynecologist, is a long-term Chinmaya Mission member and devotee. She joined CORD as Coordinator in CORD Siruvani in October 2006, since its inception, after her orientation and training at CORD Training Centre Sidhbari. Since 2016, Dr. Meera has been working as the Site Director of CORD Siruvani to implement CORD’s comprehensive integrated rural development program. Her husband, Dr. Krishna Venkateswara, joins her on holidays too, voluntarily, to serve the underprivileged rural masses in preventive, promotional, and curative healthcare services. Her work through CORD in the area of women’s empowerment has been recognized locally as well as by the Women Commission in New Delhi.
Chairperson, CORD Board and Trustee
He joined CORD in 2018 and working as Office Manager in CORD’s office in Delhi. His responsibilities are to assist Ms. Suruchi Thapa in CORD’s Accounting & Financial Management of all CORD Branches and consolidation of all records and timely reporting to CORD Management Trustees and statutory Auditors. He assists CORD’s Management in investments and fund management.
Senior Community Development Leader
Smt. Seema Devi has been associated with CORD since 1993. She is a pioneer in training bankers, women, and SHG leaders in the area of microcredit and economic empowerment. Being a strong and empowered rural woman herself, she has enabled thousands of rural women to empower themselves in the area of their socio-economic development. Seema has trained women in SHG concepts in different districts of Himachal Pradesh, especially tribal areas. She remained a big part of livelihood promotion in rural areas for needy and marginalized people. She is currently also working as a resource team member with the national team for CORD sites in Tamil Nadu.
Veena Devi joined CORD as a team at 18 years old in 1989. He first works as a dynamic young lady in CORD’s adolescent girls’ program. Later she joined the nodal program of CORD in organizing women’s groups called Mahila Mandals. She has been a dynamic leader of a team of grass-root women workers of CORD. Veena is very competent in building leaders of the Mahila Mandals. She has been a front-line team member in nurturing the Self-help Group within the Mahila Mandal since 1994. She has been a trainer for the institutional building of Mahila Mandals and Self-Help Groups not only for CORD but for other stakeholders.
Senior Community Development Leader
Since 2004, Sanjeev has worked in CORD’s Community Based Inclusion and Development program as a field facilitator for the inclusion and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. He has now grown up as a strong team leader in this program of CORD and helps in the promotion of the abilities of children with disabilities, leading him to enable many young disabled people to participate nationally and internationally in Special Olympics and sports activities.
Rupa Makecha started her volunteer work with CORD Training Centre’s Balvihar program in 2009. She has been now voluntarily leading CORD’s Community Based Livelihood program in the non-farm and service sector since 2018.
Community Development Trainer
Arvind started his career with CORD in 2002. Arvind joined CORD’s Participatory Natural Resource Management program in 2004 and worked until 2009 with CORD under its agriculture and allied sector program. He left his job for Junior Basic Teacher Training and again joined CORD in 2013 in its agriculture and allied sector program with a special emphasis on natural farming. Since then, Arvind has been working in CORD’s Community-Based Livelihood: Farm and Related Sector Program nationally. He is also striving hard to build Mahila Mandals, SHGs, and a Farmer Producer Company. Besides this, he is working on spring-shed management in mountain areas. He is the main resource team member with the National Director office to operationalize, support and monitor CORD sites in Odisha.
Onkar started his association with CORD as its youth club secretary in the local village. He was inspired to join CORD in 2004. He has worked earlier in CORD’s youth program as a facilitator and leader. Currently, he is leading CORD Training Centre Sidhbari’s Mahila Mandal and Self Help Group Program nationally. He is also striving hard to build community institutions for farmers through a Farmer Producer Company with the use of farm technology, marketing of produce, etc. He was the chairman of the block-level farmer committee in Kangra block. He is a main resource team member with the National Director’s office to operationalize, support and monitor CORD sites in Tamil Nadu.
Vinod is a postgraduate in rural development. He has been working since 2000 with Dr. Metre in the area of socio-economic empowerment of rural women through CORD’s women’s groups (Mahila Mandals) and Self-help Groups for microcredit. He has been a key player for CORD, which has been a NABARD resource center on financial literacy and SHGs for four states in northern India since 1999. Since then, he has been instrumental in leading Mahila Mandals and SHG programs including sharing and training for over 50,000 bankers, government officials, NGOs, CORD sites, and related stakeholders nationally.
Balbir has worked with a team community of frontline team members and professionals. Since 2000 he has been working in CORD’s community-based inclusion and rehabilitation program for persons with disabilities. For the past decade, he is leading this program nationally. He is a postgraduate in commerce, and psychology, a qualified Special Educator (Hearing Impairment), and trained in speech therapy under the late Shri (Dr.) J.C. Nigam (audiologist and speech therapist, AIIMS New Delhi). Balbir is highly inspired by the community’s inclusion of rural people with disabilities in all spheres of their lives. Balbir is striving hard to scale CORD’s grassroots activities in disability inclusion and development at the field level and center-based services. Moreover, he works with other organizations nationally for inclusion and advocacy for persons with disabilities.
Community Development Trainer (Senior)
Post-graduate psychology and sociology and a qualified lawyer, Sunil leads CORD’s program nationally in social justice, gender, legal aid, and Panchayat Raj Institution. Moreover, he is in charge of satellite sites of CORD Training Centre Sidhbari in district Chamba Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, and Punjab as his specific responsibilities, besides his integral role in Panchayati Raj, Social Justice, and the Adolescent Girls Group. Sunil is a member of committees of the government and banks as CORD’s representative. He has been working since 2007.
In charge of Accounts and Administration
Working since 1986 with Dr. Metre Suruchi a key responsible person for accounting and administration management with the team in the CORD Training Centre, Sidhbari. She monitors accounts with her team at the national office and is currently managing CORD office work in Delhi too, besides regularly visiting CORD sites in Odisha and Tamilnadu with the resource team.
Chief Operating Officer, CORD
Narender is a young and determined man living and serving rural India through CORD’s vision of comprehensive community-based and driven programs since 2002. He joined CORD as an occupational therapist but has acquired various post-graduate degrees in rural development, management, research, training, and development to meet the multi-disciplinary approach of CORD. Narender has worked tirelessly with Dr. Metre to scale and replicate CORD’s vision nationally and internationally. He has initiated and endorsed many innovative ideas and models for CORD’s growth. Inspired by Gurudev, he has completed the basic, advanced Vedant, Bhagavad Gita, and Upnishad online courses from Chinmaya International Foundation. Inspired by his learning other team members at CORD Training Centre Sidhbari to study and delve into Vedant.
Swami Prakarshananda joined CORD as a trustee in February 2018. He is an alumnus of Sandeepandy Sadhanalaya, Powai, Mumbai. With a Master’s in Veterinary Science, he previously worked for seven years as an assistant professor at the Bombay Veterinary College. Presently, since 2016, he is in the Delhi Chinmaya Mission after an illustrious record of service to the Chinmaya Mission, earlier in Goa from 2004 to 2016. Swami Prakarshananda conducts regular Vedanta classes and discourses for devotees and on specific relevant topics in jails, hospitals, schools, and corporate offices. He is a dynamic spiritual guide with command over Hindi, English, Marathi, and Sanskrit.
Dharamvir Malhotra worked in his family business in 1961 Kuwait, retired from active participation at the age of 75, and is now acting only as an advisor. He is an active member of the Chinmaya family in Kuwait, Kolwan, and Gurgaon. He joined CORD as a trustee in 2017. Besides this, he is actively engaged in charitable organizations in Delhi to help underprivileged children with education and sports.
Purnima Daulat Singh received her Master’s in English Literature from Bombay University in 1984. After that, she taught at “Happy Home School for the Blind” for five years, then at the American School in Bombay for five years, and then at a government school in Delhi for five years. Purnima Daulet Singh has been a trustee of CORD since 2008 and has been instrumental in raising resources for CORD’s work nationally.
Dr. Mukkamala earned an MD (Radiology) at the age of 22 from Guntur Medical College, Andhra Pradesh. He immigrated to the United States in 1970 and completed his radiology residency in Flint, Michigan, in 1975. He served as the Chairman of Radiology from 1975 to 1989 at the Hurley Medical Center in Flint, where he continues the practice of radiology. He is also the chairman of the radiology residency program and has trained numerous radiologists. He is the president of Chinmaya Mission West and director of CORD USA. He and his wife, Dr. Sumathi Mukkamala, are founders of CORD’s Chinmaya Vijaya, an orphanage for girls. Dr. Appa Rao is among the 32 NRI doctors from the USA who established the NRI Academy of Medical Sciences at Chinakakani near Vijayawada. He is also a managing director of Chinmaya Viswavidyapeeth.
National Director of CORD and Trustee
Dr. Kshama Metre, MD (Pediatrics), from Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi, has been the trustee and National Director of CORD since its inception in 2003. Dr. Metre joined the earlier predecessor of CORD, inspired by Swami Chinmayananda, in 1985 in Sidhbari. Over almost four decades, she has pioneered and led CORD’s comprehensive need-based rural development program. Dr. Metre is an eminent member of various committees and institutions working in the development sector. Dr. Metre is fondly called “Dr. Didi” by the many people associated with CORD.
Treasurer, CORD Board and Trustee
Navin Bahl worked for two years post-qualification with reputed firms of chartered accountants in Europe. He worked for six years as a finance manager for large industrial companies in India. Mr. Bahl commenced his practice as a Chartered Accountant (CA) in 1974 and was a Senior Partner of the firm for 25 years. He set up a company for the manufacture and export of soft home furnishings to large stores all around the world. The company also has two retail outlets in New Delhi. Currently, Mr. Bahl is a member of the Managing Committee of the Blind Relief Association, New Delhi; President of the Association of Rehabilitation of the Handicapped, and a Trustee of Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) India.
Secretary, CORD Board and Trustee
Sunil Sachdeva worked for over 30 years in the advertising industry. He was a co-founder of Capital Advertising, which became a part of the Publicis Group, one of the global leaders in the communication business. Sunil is passionately driven by the power of communication to impact human lives. Sunil is the founder and director of Social Capital, a communications consultancy focused on working with companies on their transformative CSR programs.
Swami Swaroopananda is the current Global Head of Chinmaya Mission and the current Chairman of CORD since 2017, after Swami Tejomayananda, who was the Founder Chairman of CORD. Swami Swaroopananda was earlier the Regional Head of Chinmaya Mission in the UK, Australia, and the Far East and the Director of Chinmaya International Residential School in Coimbatore. In his early twenties, inspired by Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda, he became a monk and left his successful business career in Hong Kong.
58-year-old Umamaheshwari Kulandaivel started as a conventional farmer 25 years ago. All these years, she found that the profits were very low and the soil fertility and productivity were coming down.
She joined the Thennamanallur Vennila MM in 2008 and is now the treasurer. She is also an active member of the Women Farmers Group facilitated by CORD, a member of the Farmer’s Club and a shareholder in the Siruvani Farmer Producer Company. She attends all meetings and uses the knowledge she acquires as much as possible. She is very participatory, shares her opinions, and clears her doubts promptly.
During the meetings facilitated by CORD, she met several successful organic farmers and decided to go the organic way. She has shifted to organic farming for the past three years and found that she is getting a better price for her vegetables and also spending less on her inputs. She sells her vegetables door-to-door using her bicycle. She raises around 200 hens and has a cow and two calves, one of which is an indigenous breed. She makes and uses Panchagavya, Dashaparni, Jeevamrutam, and other biopesticides like ginger garlic tobacco solution.
50-year-old Vasanthamani, who has studied up to the 7th standard, has been a farmer for as long as she can remember. Since she joined CORD’s MM, she has been very participatory and enthusiastic in all the activities. She is the treasurer of Velmurugam MM. She has 3 acres of rain-fed land, which has a borewell. Since 2009, she has been trying to get an electrical supply for this piece of land; her attempts were not successful. In June 2017, she attended a capacity-building meeting facilitated by CORD. The resource person, Mr. Pradeep Kumar, a senior official in the Consumer Forum, guided the farmers on how to approach the problem. She and others managed to get the electricity connection under the Tatkal scheme by paying Rs. 3 lakh. She is very happy that she is not totally dependent on the rain now. She has a hen and a cow, and she uses pheromone traps and other inputs. She supplements her income by making paper covers, which she sells to nearby shops.
Raghunathan of Nelvoy Panchayat suffers from severe muscular dystrophy and extremely constrained movement of the limbs. His elder sister Kaveri also suffered the same and could not move her limbs. Restrained in their house, they became completely dependent on their mother and elder brother for their basic needs.CORD Thamaraipakkam started the community-based inclusion and rehabilitation (CBIR) program in Nelvoy in 2011. When Sri Silambarasan (CORD staff) first visited Raghunatan’s house, he was shocked to see the two siblings living in such poor and neglected health conditions. There was not even a toilet in the house. At first, Raghunatan’s brother, Raja did not like Silambarasan visiting their house and looked at him as an intruder, as he felt that the condition of his siblings could never be improved by anyone anymore. But after some counseling, Silambarasan gained entry into their house and was welcomed into their family. He enabled the siblings to get disability ID cards and a monthly pension of Rs. 1000 each. This little money helped ease the burden on Raja’s shoulders to run the family and take care of their unending medical needs. Gradually, CORD enabled Raghunatan and his sister to get a scooter and a wheelchair to improve their mobility within and outside the house. But they are too crippled to use these themselves. So CORD facilitated a CBR VVRP to visit the house at least twice a month to walk them out of the house in a wheelchair. Further, CORD facilitated a physiotherapist’s visit once a month to teach them simple breathing exercises and mild movements. These greatly helped to improve weak health conditions and alleviate body pain. Observing Raghunatan’s ability to draw, the CORD staff encouraged him by providing good-quality paint brushes, charts, and other paint materials. The cord also took an artist to his house who tutored him in different styles of painting. When CORD presented Raghunatan’s painting to Pujya Guruji as a gift, Guruji in return gifted Rs. 5000 to the artist. This was his first income from painting, which he used to construct a toilet. So far, he has earned more than Rs. 1.5 lakh from his paintings, mainly sold with the help of CORD USA. He sometimes even hand-paints ethnic pictures on camp bags for CORD to sell. Besides, CORD helps Raja, Raghunatan’s brother, who is a farmer, with various farm-related activities like Azolla cattle fodder cultivation, the preparation of organic manure such as vermin compost, and panchagavyam. Cord also encourages Raghunatan’s elderly mother to maintain a kitchen garden for their family. Raghunatan’s nephews (Shivaranjini and Abhirami) are part of an adolescent girl group through which they are empowered with knowledge and skills. They have also learned jewelry and incense stick-making from CORD. Thus, CORD has enabled Raghunatan’s family to improve their laborious living conditions. Raghunatan is now drastically changed, although not physically but in spirit. He attends the annual differently-abled empowerment day celebrated at CORD and is a good motivational speaker. From a victim of disability to a specially-abled role model, Raghunatan’s transformation is an inspiration to the disabled community.
At CORD, we're committed to building a team of passionate, dedicated individuals who share our values of teamwork, personal development, diversity, and leadership. We believe that our people are our greatest strength and that by working together, we can achieve our goal of empowering rural India. Join a team of focused and dedicated individuals with a vision for positive change.
We encourage young and brilliant minds to gain experiential and expositional insights for developing rural India comprehensively. This two-year fellowship program, based at Sidhbari, Himachal Pradesh, will help you learn about management, the needs of rural India, the potential of the communities, and more. Earn as you learn to empower rural India.
If you're a college or university student eager to gain hands-on experience in rural development in India, we invite you to consider our internship programs at CORD in Sidhbari, Himachal Pradesh. To apply, simply reach out to your university or college and express your interest in our programs. You can also apply directly to CORD's National Director's Office with a statement of your area of interest.
You can apply for any of our locations in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Odisha, and Tamil Nadu, to join our programs on a short-term or long-term basis.
Binta Devi became a young widow when her husband, a truck driver, died of HIV/AIDS. Her late husband’s family blamed Binta for his death, and she, along with her two children, were ostracized by her family. She was shut in a very small, dark room where water leaked from the roof, and she was physically and verbally abused by her in-laws. Her children were forced to drop out of school. They became malnourished and emaciated. That’s when the local Mahila Mandal, along with the self-help group, stepped in. Binta and her children were tested for HIV and were fortunately found to be HIV-negative. With the help of Mahila Mandal, Binta got access to food from the government’s public distribution system. The family was counseled by CORD’s informal legal cell team about women’s rights and the mode of transmission of HIV/AIDS. Binta’s rightful place in the home was finally ensured through pressure created by the Mahila Mandal. The Mahila Mandal further interacted with the school, where the teachers had forced Binta’s children out of the school out of fear of HIV/AIDS. After much pressure from the Mahila Mandal, the children were readmitted to the school. The women’s group also ensured that Binta received a widow pension from the government and enrolled her in the Self-Help Group (SHG) to help her access microcredit. She was motivated to learn sewing and joined CORD’s sewing training program. Within two years, she became self-reliant. Binta now trains other girls and is an important microentrepreneur. Binta’s story is a reminder that we all deserve to live a dignified and healthy life.
Urmila’s alcoholic husband used to beat her every day and even try to sell her to his drinking buddies. That’s when Urmila ran away in the middle of the night with her four little children to her in-law’s home. However, her husband kept disturbing her and the children. Her situation was so deplorable that the villagers advised her to live with some other men, but Urmila refused to get into such a relationship. That’s when CORD members intervened. Urmila started working as a clinic attendant and later got trained as a Village Health Guide by CORD. With her diligence and hard work, she soon emerged as an excellent community development worker. Further, she used her skills to change other people’s lives in the community too. She helped in strengthening the Mahila Manda, SHGs, Adolescent Girls’ Groups, Farmers and Youth Groups, and Children’s Groups.Urmila started by leading a team of women group facilitators at CORD as a supervisor and later as Chief Community Development Worker. She also got elected as the ward representative in her Gram panchayat and started promoting local self-governance.Recalling an incident about Urmila’s growth, Dr. Metre shares an incident where Urmila represented CORD to speak about the functioning of SHGs at a state-level seminar in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. Dr. Metre was one of the panelists at the seminar but was unable to attend and instead asked Urmila to share the story of how SHGs had successfully helped transform lives in the region. Although the hall was crowded with senior officials of the state, heads of various government departments, and District Commissioners of the districts in the state, Urmila spoke non-stop for one-and-a-half hours, sharing her field experience. She received a standing ovation at the end of her speech! Urmila Devi passed away on April 14, 2016, due to a progressive neurological disease. Urmila’s story is an inspiration for millions of women fighting for a dignified living.
Daya Devi’s father abandoned her and the family when she was an infant. While her elder sister was raised by her maternal aunt, Daya started helping her mother at a tender age to earn small amounts for their sustenance. Being a hardworking student, she attended a primary government school and studied under the light of a kerosene lamp as they couldn’t afford electricity. And, sometimes, when they didn’t have enough kerosene oil, she studied under the light of the kitchen fire lit with dry wood from the forest. She, in fact, scored the highest marks in her class in the eighth grade.
Disaster struck when she lost her mother, and her elder sister was married off.
The villagers wanted Daya to marry as well, as she was alone. However, determined to continue her studies, she kept on struggling and refused to marry. Later, she heard about the nursing course at CORD and desperately prayed to get selected for the course. She was one of the thirty selected candidates out of 2,400 applicants! Recalling her past experience, Daya says, “Not only did I receive professional training, but I also began to understand my spiritual dimensions and my inner wealth. Today, I am a happy wife and a mother with a good job as a nurse.”
Daya’s story motivates anyone who is fighting against the odds to create an identity for themselves.
Every human being needs food, shelter, cloth, education, health, sanitation, drinking water, etc. to sustain itself. To avail himself of these, every individual takes up certain initiatives to address his livelihood issues. This case study is about Jhigara Oram and how he secured his livelihood through vegetable cultivation.
Jhiraga Oram belongs to Timjore village under the Lathikata Block of Sundergarh district. He has two sons with his wife, Sukhmani. He was not in a position to earn a livelihood for his family as he contracted polio. Apart from that, due to the premature death of his elder brother,Birua Oram, he had to look after the five members of his family. Jhigara was always in grief over how to manage his own and his elder brother’s families. He has no alternate source of income to overcome the family’s financial constraints.
Due to this difficult situation, Jhigara joined as an agent in a private institution. But he was unable to manage his family with his low income. There was an irregularity in his monthly payment. He quit that institution after three months. Disappointed, he prayed to God for ways to overcome his problems. At that time, his wife came across a Field worker of CORD named Lathikata, and she was inspired to join the Ch. Ganga Self-Help Group of that village. She also joined SHG. After a few months, she took a loan of fifty thousand rupees from her own group. She bought a new tractor with help from the bank. He earned a good income from the tractor, and she returned the loan amount of SHG on an installment basis. But she could not repay the bank loan. So the bank seized that tractor from her. A community development worker encouraged them not to lose their patience. Jhigara had a few acres of agricultural land, and there were lift irrigation facilities in the village, so they made up their minds to start vegetable cultivation. For the first time, they started vegetable cultivation on 75 acres of land. He grew Brinjal, Ladies fingers, pumpkin, and tomatoes in his garden. He worked hard, and his family members also helped a lot in this venture. CORD workers assisted in providing technical knowledge to raise the nursery, plant, water, weed, fertilize, and harvest the crops. He is earning Rs. 1500–18000 per month from this activity. He got Rs. 35,000 as profit in the last three months. Jhiraga Oram is now able to manage his large family smoothly. His two sons and the younger daughter of his brother are studying at a local college. He also helped in his elder brother’s daughter’s marriage. He has taken on this venture in a commercial way. He has planned to extend his vegetable cultivation up to 2 acres of land in the coming winter season by adopting a totally organic way of vegetable cultivation.
During the field visit of the CORD worker, Jhigara quotes that with the financial assistance of Ch.Ganga, SHG, and the technical support of the CORD worker, he has been able to overcome the family’s financial constraints. He also revealed that every farmer should bring good income for family utilizing the existing resource like land, water, manpower, technical knowledge and time by discharging of hard work and enthusiasm.
Mr. Rinku, who a few years ago was totally bedridden, now walks without any support to reach the wholesale vegetable market to ensure the best produce for his fruit and vegetable shop near his house in Narwana village. Rinku is suffering from Ankylosing Spondylitis. The first symptoms arose when he was 15 years old. He started having pain in his knees, which made him limp. Because of this, he was completely bedridden. At this stage, he was very demoralized and sometimes developed suicidal tendencies.
Suddenly, a ray of hope came into his life: CORD. CORD has been working on various developmental aspects in 650 villages in the district of Kangra for the past 32 years. People with disabilities and their related issues are being taken care of under the Community Based Inclusion and Rehabilitation (CBIR) program of CORD. Rinku was also brought to the central OPD of CORD in a vehicle and was dropped back home free of charge. Regular physical and occupational therapy enabled him to start walking with the help of a walker. Slowly, the walker was replaced by crutches, and he became more confident.
During his treatment at CORD, Rinku also participated in the process of social inclusion for disabled people. He became a member of Chinmaya Umang, which is an advocacy forum for rural people with disabilities. In this group, he met Sonika, a low-vision girl. Sonika committed to Rinku as a lifelong partner. At that point, the darkness completely subdued Rinku’s life. With Cord’s help, he was trained to make carry bags from newspaper and soap at home. He also started a small tea stall near his house.
Financially supported by Chinmaya Umang, he was able to earn enough money to run the house from the tea stall and sell carry-bags and soap. To walk independently, Rinku had
to get hips replaced. His parents couldn’t afford it but somehow gathered enough money to have one hip replaced, but the doctor said that the other hip had to be replaced soon. He approached Dr. Didi (Kshama Metre), the National Director of CORD, for help. Dr. Didi arranged for the surgery in Maharashtra, completely free of charge.
After the surgery, he was put on intensive physiotherapy in the CBIR department of CORD and started walking within 2 months. He then started active participation in Chinmaya Umang’s work, taking on responsibilities as President and leading the advocacy group.
Now, through Chinmaya Umang, he actively raises the issues of people with disabilities in Distt. Kangra. He plays a key role in the celebration of World Disability Day on December 3 every year. He regularly attends Gram Sabhas (local units of self-governance) as a responsible citizen. With CORD’s support, Rinku got a two-year fellowship from the People Science Institute, Dehradun, under which he worked for disabled people in 8 Panchayats of Distt.Kangra.
With a new vigor for life, Rinku decided to take a loan from Chinmaya Umang to set up a vegetable shop in his village. His wife plays a key role in helping him in the shop. Rinku gets fruits and vegetables at a discounted price and uses the waste materials as cattle feed. He has learned all the tactics of a successful entrepreneur. He aspires to expand his business and eventually wants to own a shop. He also wants to start a fresh fruit juice stall. He wishes to earn more income monthly so that he can fulfill the needs of his aging parents as well as raise his two children well.
He says his most powerful inspiration was Dr. Didi. He wants others who are facing problems to know that without challenges, life is dull. Instead of becoming demoralized, everybody should stay strong, work hard, and face life.
Mahinder Singh is a 56-year-old physically challenged person who hails from Naushera. In 1972, he complained of severe pain in his knees. He was taken to the District Hospital at Kangra, where the doctors referred him to more advanced hospitals in Delhi and Chandigarh. In 1974, after it was too late to change his condition, Mahinder was in a wheelchair. He was a patient with paraplegia. Despite his condition, he took up the challenges life threw at him and came out strong. He has become a source of inspiration. He gave tuition from the village to schoolchildren. All these changes were quite empowering for the boy in a wheelchair. During this time, his pains subsided, and he was able to put more effort into his work schedule. Simultaneously, he made sure to polish his skills by learning new patterns of knitting, and his trainers were the village ladies, of whom his mother was the first guru. The initial stage of knitting as a profession was a bit embarrassing for him because village people had the conception that knitting was a ladies job, so he stopped knitting when someone would pass by. But slowly, he became confident. He has to meet the deadlines, take care of the work to perfection, and keep connected with his customers. Goal-oriented work with dedication through the day and night was the key to his success, and he got orders from his village as well as nearby villages. In 1998, he came in contact with the Chinmaya Organization for Rural Development through the survey.
Community-Based Rehabilitation and Inclusion Team of CORD, and he started visiting the CORD Training Center for the meetings of Chinmaya Umang. He was able to look at the outer world from a different perspective. He actively participated in the Yuva Mandals run by CORD. A revolution came in his life when he was able to participate in the Regional Abilympics competition in Delhi, which is organized by the National Association of Abilympics of India, for special life skills training and testing for people with disabilities. Not aware of the competition items, he was still able to win a gold medal in this event. At the 2007 Gold Medal in the National Athletics at Delhi, he was selected for international competition and went to Japan. This remarkable journey of a wheel chair user from a village in Himachal Pradesh to a foreign country was a challenge at every step. 2003: Gold Medal in Regional Abilympics at Delhi 2014: Gold Medal in the National Athletics at Chandigarh In 2016, he was again selected for International athletic completion and went to France.
He is a social activist in his own right and has given motivational lectures at so many social functions. At present, he is vice president of Chinmaya Umang and actively counsels on the issues of differently-abled people. He is the knitting guru and has trained innumerable village ladies. He even helps his family with the daily household chores that constitute people of the age group older than 55. Mahinder wants to forward the message to those who are struggling in the initial stages of disability that “NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE”.
Revathy hails from a very poor family in Ramanatapuram village in Pakkam Panchayat. Her father was an alcoholic who forced her to discontinue her education after the 9th grade and got her married at a young age. Her husband, who was an alcoholic too, discouraged her from going out to work. Due to poverty, she was at times unable to pay the house rent or the school fees. She put her children in a free school run by an NGO. She had gone to a beautician’s course and was also innately talented in art and crafts. One day, her husband, in a drunken state, met with an accident and has been unable to work for almost six years. Soon, Revathy joined Chinmaya Karpaga Vinayagar SHG and Mahila Mandal, which marked a turn of events in her life. Seeing the hopeless state of herhusband, she learned tailoring and did some odd stitching jobs. Revathy shared her sad state of affairs with Smt. Lalita (CORD staff). It took Lalita several visits to the house to convince her husband and counsel him. Initially, he did not let her inside the house. Slowly, with Lalita’s persistent efforts, he took her good counsel and allowed his wife to go out for a job.Revathy joined the 2-week jute bag-making course facilitated by CORD (in association with INDSETTI). After the course, she tried to gather 10 of the 24 women who attended the course to start her own enterprise. But as it needed initial investment, many were apprehensive and backed out. After a lapse of 4 months, when CORD approached her with an order of 600 jute bags, she once again gathered 3 more women from the training and took up the order. It was a huge step for a beginner, but she did it. Since then, she has taken up many such orders, mostly from various Chinmaya Mission centers. She is the leader of the group of six, whom she mentors and monitors. She has also learned many other skills, like jewelry making, screen printing, garment making, hand painting, paper bag making, and hand embroidery, facilitated by CORD. Being talented, she has picked these up quickly, and with these additional skills, she is able to earn a regular income of about Rs. 5,000 per month and also help five other women like herself earn their livelihood. Besides, she teaches a 2-month tailoring course to other village women. So far, she has trained two such batches. With her hard-earned money and the help of SHG loans, she has built her own house.Thus, through the Mahila mandal and SHG programs, she has attended many leadership, VVRP (Village Volunteer Resource Person), vocation skill development, and capacity building trainings at CORD, all of which have slowly enabled her transformation into an empowered entrepreneur. Her husband, who is finally now able to go to work after a lapse of 6 years, is also a changed man, a teetotaler, and a supportive husband. Revathy is now our IGS and entrepreneurship VVRP mentor who mentors other women in rural villages like herself. She is very grateful to Pujya Gurudev and to CORD.