Kolkata (May 28, 2016): Anjali, a mental health rights organisation based in Kolkata, and The Hans Foundation, a charitable trust fund created to provide a source of endowment for not-for-profit organizations in India, recently inaugurated ‘Dhobi Ghar’, a spacious, automated laundry service at Calcutta Pavlov Hospital, which will open the doors for hospital inmates, who have recovered from mental illness, to the world of employment and a life of dignity.
Dhobi Ghar is the latest initiative of Anjali, which for the last 15 years, has worked for the protection of the rights of the persons with mental illness, and their rehabilitation as active and productive members of society. Anjali had started a canteen within the Calcutta Pavlov Hospital premises last year which continues to run successfully by recovered patients awaiting rehabilitation. Anjali also provides training in art and crafts to the inmates, both for self-expression and for training in skilled work.
Ratnaboli Ray, Founder & Director, Anjali said, “The objective of establishing Dhobi Ghar is to develop a ‘replicable model’ through a multi-sector collaboration in providing employment opportunities for long staying, abandoned and recovered people from mental illness staying within the hospital, to recognize their potential and capabilities.”
Ms. Ray added, “Our experience has shown that prejudice against job seekers with a history of mental illness is rampant. The nature of illness, the extent of recovery, the level of qualification and skills of the job-seeker cannot mitigate the stigma against mental illness. We are working to identify the most effective ways to help them and make the larger population more aware and to involve them in a scientific and human rights-based discourse on mental health.”
Established with the support from the Department of Health, Government of West Bengal, for the space provided and fund support from The Hans Foundation, Dhobi Ghar at Calcutta Pavlov Hospital is an interesting example of multi-sector collaboration. The technical support to the laundry house has been provided by Sparsh Foundation, Calcutta.
In his address, Dr. G. V. Rao, Executive Director, The Hans Foundation said, “Over the years, The Hans Foundation has increased its outreach and the grants funded in the area of skill development, therapeutic support and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. Reintegrating patients who have recovered from mental illness back to society is crucial. We are happy that innovative services are being developed for people who are recovered from mental illness which will give them hope in living as full a life as possible in society.”
Additionally, he shared, “By supporting Anjali’s initiative, we hope to throw light on the myth that those with mental conditions are not able to live productive life. The objective is to defy stereotypes so that potential employers are aware of vocational abilities of this segment of the workforce. We believe the establishment of ‘Dhobi Ghar’ will contribute to continuing efforts by Anjali to promote opportunities for people rehabilitated and recovered from mental illness.”
Dhobi Ghar will employ 24 women and men at a time, who have lost out several years inside the fringes of a mental institution. They will earn Rs 257/- a day for each day of work and money will be remitted in their respective bank accounts.