Diya Foundation was set up by Ms. Maria Santamaria, a special educator and entrepreneur, in Bangalore in 1999. It seeks to create a safe environment where intellectually challenged adults with a basic school programme could move into and be prepared to meet life's challenges through work and employment. In the last 15 years around 100 differently abled people have benefited from Diya's training programmes.
Currently over 68 intellectually challenged adults avail Diya’s training and employment facilities. Trainees are provided with transportation, given stipends while on training, receive help to access government schemes and engage in different activities within and outside Diya.
Diya provides training to mild/moderately intellectually challenged adults above 18 years of age. They undergo training at the Centre for six months to a year and pass through three phases: 1) Training in Daily Living/Occupational Skills; 2) Training in Social/Personal Skills; and 3) Training in Vocational/Employability Skills. Vocational training at Diya is offered in Papier-Mâché and paper products, Candle making, Chocolate making, Computer data entry and Screen Printing. Post training, trainees join the sheltered workshop where they work under supervision and earn a stipend.
Future plans: Over the next 5 years, Diya aims to expand its services and impact 500 differently abled people. Its plans include:
• Sheltered Employment: Introduce new work options and expand facilities in the sheltered workshop to train and employ more people.
• Supported Employment: For the trainees who are ready to leave the Diya Foundation Sheltered Workshop and move into supported employment, opportunities are given in Diya Innovations Pvt. Ltd., where they earn a higher stipend when completing orders for its product line. Diya Innovations creates and markets a range of unique hand crafted products. 70% of the employees of Diya Innovations are differently abled.
• Competitive Employment: The ultimate goal is to ensure employment opportunities for the trainees within safe environments in the community. Diya plans to network with NGOs and Corporates to identify placements in hotels, offices and other establishments. The challenge is to find simple, repetitive and achievable tasks.
Diya is associated with Concern India Foundation.