Path with purpose: MITTI Paves the Way to Social Change

By Anubha Jain | Published: January 24, 2024 03:48 PM2024-01-24T15:48:05+5:302024-01-24T16:06:36+5:30

Narayan Murthi Co-founder of Infosys visited MITTI and said, “I saw hard-working people there who are handicapped. When I ...

Path with purpose: MITTI Paves the Way to Social Change | Path with purpose: MITTI Paves the Way to Social Change

Path with purpose: MITTI Paves the Way to Social Change

Narayan Murthi Co-founder of Infosys visited MITTI and said, “I saw hard-working people there who are handicapped. When I saw such people, I realized that my work isn’t hard. There are harder-working people than me who have sacrificed more than me and such people inspire us all.” MITTI café is an inclusive space providing sustainable livelihood to people with disabilities. MITTI is a place where adaptability is built in and people with their abilities get responsibilities. With an approach of inclusion, it creates awareness about disability rights and the needs of people. MITTI works toward financial independence and dignity for people with physical, intellectual, and psychiatric challenges. To promote inclusivity the Chief Justice of India, Justice DY Chandrachud inaugurated MITTI cafe in the presence of other judges at the Supreme Court of India premises, New Delhi in November 2023. "I hope the legal community will support the initiative," the CJI said at the time of inauguration. 

The Honourable President of India Draupadi Murmu visited the Supreme Court café on Constitution Day last year.
Over 285 disabled people like Lakshmi, a single mother of two children with speech and hearing impairment, Kirti the manager who came to the café crawling as she couldn’t afford her wheelchair, Himanshu with Down syndrome, and many more are leading a financially independent life and supporting their families after getting a job as waiters, cashiers, kitchen assistants, etc. in MITTI. “Despite having differences in ideology and religion humans come from mud and eventually fuse in mud only.” Based on this ideology, the founder and CEO of MITTI, 31-year-old Kolkata’s Alina Alam started this unique initiative in 2017. Initially, the first outlet of MITTI café was started in a shed-like setup in Karnataka’s Hubballi with zero capital and multiple rejections. The majority of things in her first café were second-hand donated by people.

Alina said that the collaboration with the Supreme Court not only breaks down stigmas around disability but also signifies a commitment to promoting diversity, challenging stereotypes, and showcasing the talents of persons with disability. After establishing its presence in Delhi in 2023, and Kolkata in 2021, today MITTI has 42 outlets in five cities including the garden city, Bengaluru in 2017. Talking with me about the idea behind starting the organization, Alina said, "My grandmother had a disability but all I saw was her ability. At the young age of 23, a life-changing documentary Nero’s Guests based on the farmers' suicide in Vidarbha by noted journalist P. Sainath changed my outlook towards life." Before starting MITTI, Alina voluntarily joined organizations that worked in the inclusion space where she realized that the problem is not that people are disabled. However, she felt that the problem is in people’s perception that stop seeing the magic in the abilities of disabled people. Alina said, “I wanted to change this perception. Food is a medium to create awareness about inclusion with every meal that we serve. As well as generate livelihood opportunities for these adults with disabilities.” Alina went door to door and asked people to join the movement of inclusion.

MITTI has imparted skills and training to over 4000 disabled people and people from marginalized communities. It provides a stipend along with food, accommodation, and transport. Later the organization hires these trainees. MITTI provides nutritious meals i.e., Karuna or compassion meals to the poor free of cost and so far 6 million Karuna meals have been distributed. MITTI is bringing new hope and a sense of self-worth to people with special needs and those who are rejected by society. Today these people are working with dignity and empowering themselves. Mitti promotes and believes in an inclusive ecosystem that is changing millions of lives. Alina said, “Everyone can make a difference. Compassion and courage are the weapons to eradicate any problem. For the betterment, we as a community must embrace as many people as possible. Development can only be inclusive otherwise it's not development. Create and embrace opportunities, take together everyone then the world will develop.”

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