Jatinder Arora

Prayas was founded by Late Ms. Jatinder Arora. A journalist by profession, who due to an unfortunate accident, was able to empathise with and experience disability and its associated challenges first hand. After Ms. Jatinder recovered, she decided to devote her time completely in service of the differently abled children. This devotion took the form of Prayas. The family started with 5 differently abled children and a staff of 2 in a house in Raja Park, Jaipur. The primary aim was to provide vocational training as there was no other such institute in Rajasthan.

The Prayas team surveyed the walled city and surrounding areas, where a large number of slums existed. The team was greeted with extreme hostility. Special needs children were often found completely unattended while their family worked. They were even found chained to walls, and not given adequate food to eat. Girls were not being sent to school and kept engaged in household chores. The survey results showed that many children suffered due to lack of nutrition, education, and healthcare.

It was then decided to work towards inclusive education, with a focus on differently abled children and girls (who would become first generation learners). The community was even more agitated about girls being asked to be sent to schools. Religion was another barrier. Constant efforts and conviction now resulted in, amongst other things, sensitization at all levels, special needs children gaining acceptance and appreciation in the community, religious tolerance, female education, communal tolerance and harmony.

All through the early, difficult years, it was Miss Jatinder's passion, conviction along with the participation of Mr. R.K.Mohla that drove PRAYAS to evolve into an Institution. They were firmly committed that each one can be an agent of change, and eventually, the impact is a lasting change for the better. Every child, regardless of birth and circumstances is truly equal and needs to have access to good education, and should not be compelled to work or be abused and exploited for any reason.

The work was very challenging. Prayas had to integrate disabled children with normal ones and also maintain harmony between the communities to which the children belonged. The children became the messengers for Prayas. The aim was to not only make the children literate and capable of writing their names, but also to impart value based education to them, help develop the ability of analysis, discrimination between right and wrong and grow up to be good human beings.

Over the last decades, Prayas has crossed many milestones and is now recognized as an Institution in Disability management, Inclusive education and Integrated schooling. The severely afflicted children with special needs are taken under the ambit of the home base therapy program. Some of these children are now able to attend regular school.

Prayas is guided by the core human values of respect, dignity and the autonomy of children with special needs. However, it had its own limitations. Observing the neglect of children with special needs, specially, girls in slums, Prayas started intervening in 12 government schools with the government's permission. The task was to admit non- school going children, normal as well as those with special needs to these schools, facilitate inclusive education and also train government teachers in special education. This program is going on and tireless efforts have yielded remarkable results in the community and parent participation in government schools and empowerment of teachers through workshops.

Miss Jatinder Arora was very passionate about ensuring the children's future and higher studies. Students were encouraged to continuously learn and develop their skills and capacities. Prayas Integrated school is up to Class VIII and it is ensured that the children, specially, girls continue their education after passing out from Prayas. Many a times, the parents are unable to afford fees, due to weak financial condition and Prayas steps in to support the children by paying their fees.

Jatinder Arora Academic Award

Jatinder Arora Academic Award
The inspiration behind Prayas, Miss Jatinder Arora expired on 12th February 2015. Her unfortunate demise had left a big void, as she had worked throughout her life with compassion and commitment for the cause and had established an identity as a respected member of the disability and development sector. She has been greatly missed.

To commemorate her memory, the 'Jatinder Arora Academic Awards' was started by Prayas, for the best student from each of the schools run by Prayas. The Award comprises of a Trophy, Certificate and a Cash reward. This award encourages and rewards exceptional academic and overall achievement. The children are selected on the criteria of academic excellence, participation in co-curricular activities, discipline, obedience and respect towards teachers, behaviour with friends, sensitivity towards those in need, awareness in the community and overall performance.

The work of Miss Jatinder Arora was carried forward with the same vigour, zeal and enthusiasm by Team Prayas under the stewardship of Mr. R.K.Mohla. His diverse experience, vast contacts, strong commitment, leadership qualities, organizational skills, vision, understanding and able guidance helped strengthen the organization and lead it to greater heights.

After Shri Mohla's retirement, Prayas is now being managed by a dynamic group of persons who believe in the mission of Prayas and are committed to continue in the same spirit and futuristic vision.

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