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StepOne is an initiative of Bhoomika Trust to facilitate job opportunities for persons with disability. Bhoomika Trust's StepOne program facilitates an "Office Experience Opportunity" for persons with disability who are in the age group of 18-35 years and are seeking suitable jobs.

Through StepOne, these individuals are provided an opportunity to work for a period of one month in organizations which have not employed persons with disability. This enables them to get valuable work experience and also help them to showcase their skills and abilities in the organizations where they are placed during this period.

The organizations provide them one month work opportunity and a work experience certificate on completion but are not under any obligation to offer the candidate employment at the end of this period. However at the end of one month, if the company is satisfied with the performance of the candidate, they could consider them for employment. Bhoomika Trust does not charge the candidate or the potential employer any fee towards this program.

Through the interactions the individuals have with others in the company, StepOne functions as a one month sensitization program. The candidates are encouraged to be proactive so as to create awareness and change the perceptions about persons with disability in the organization.

Bhoomika Trust provides support to the candidates on an individual basis through a stipend during this one month opportunity and also as a group to enable and empower them. As agents of change, candidates are not only motivated to showcase their skills and abilities, but are also able to sensitize and educate others on various disability related issues. The Group Work sessions organized by Bhoomika Trust for StepOne candidates at Loyola College Social Work department provided a platform for the candidates to share skills and learn from one another.

Through StepOne, Bhoomika Trust serves as a facilitator by linking persons with disability who are seeking jobs with potential employers. Candidates are identified through special schools and NGOs in Chennai which offer vocational training for persons with disability. Candidates are also introduced by existing candidates.

Information on the candidates' profile is collected including their skills, abilities, areas of interest and their functional limitations. When the candidates register for the program, the details of the program are explained to them and they are made aware of the fact that being offered employment at the end of the one-month work experience depends entirely on the individual's work performance during this period. Based on the requirements/ job tasks, registered candidates are matched with potential employers for a one month work experience.

StepOne program, which commenced in October 2007, currently caters to persons with visual impairment considering the challenges they have to overcome in terms of finding suitable employment. Over the past ten months, 50 candidates have benefitted from StepOne's one month work experience opportunity at various organizations in Chennai. Of these, 38 candidates have been offered employment by the organizations that offered them one month work experience.

Organizations that have come forward to support this initiative include Brain Square Consultancy, Callidai Motor Works, Dexterity KPO Services Pvt Ltd, e4e Business Solutions India Pvt Ltd, Genlite Engineering Pvt Ltd, Grundfos Pumps India Pvt Ltd, PAADHAI, Rage Communications P.Ltd, Sharmanee Enterprises and StreetEdge Group of companies.

Bhoomika Trust has networked with organizations such as Nethrodaya, Ability Foundation, National Association for the Blind (Tamilnadu branch), Tamilnadu Association for the Welfare of the Physically Handicapped and Tamilnadu Handicapped Federation Charitable Trust to identify candidates for this program.

Organisations can be a part of StepOne program by offering this one-month work experience opportunity to persons with disability and interested candidates can register with Bhoomika Trust to benefit from StepOne.

Petty shop
A forty five year old individual, who had a below the left knee amputation consequent to complication of diabetes, approached Bhoomika Trust seeking support. He had studied upto primary level, and had been working as a lorry cleaner for most of his life earning about 3000 Rs a month. He was depressed and confused, not knowing how to support his wife and three daughters. He was shattered due to the impairment and loss of income and required assistance to earn a living to support his family.

Taking into account his interest and abilities, Bhoomika Trust enabled him to accept the reality of limited mobility and prepared him to take up a home-based activity. Discussions with his wife and other family members revealed that they were willing to extend full support for any type of home-based rehabilitation.

He discussed this with his family members and agreed to the plan of setting up a home based provision store, so that his family could also be involved. His wife would go to the market and get the required stock, while he would manage the store. With the help of his crutches, he could move between the store and his house. His wife would do the purchases early in the morning, before beginning the household chores. The couple was thus prepared to develop an alternative livelihood.

Since he lives in Kancheepuram District, based on his needs, Bhoomika Trust networked with a field-based social welfare agency in the geographical area where he lived, and assisted in setting up a home-based provision store. He continues to replenish his stock on a regular basis and his wife assists him in running the petty shop.

In January 2006, Bhoomika Trust helped in the rehabilitation of a physically challenged 28 year old man who, coupled with disability and poverty, was unable to attend school or learn a useful trade. He was provided a handmover that enabled him to help in the family business of supplying milk.

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