By Aarian Parikh | Opening Doorz Editorial | March 08, 2018
Lakshya Art Foundation, founded by Sonali Bane (35), a Graduate in Arts and Literature from K J Somaiya College, stands as an example of some of the few Foundations around the country that give the disabled populace a special place where they receive support and find meaning in life. The Foundation helps counsel and guides the families of people who are differently-abled and those who are suffering from other orthopaedic handicap. The Foundation has formed two special groups. The first one is named Arambha Creation. This group boasts of members who have special talents for arts and crafts. These members take part in special activities like painting and making hand-made gift items, which are then sold by the Foundation. This money is used to provide for its members. The Foundation also boasts of a musical division called the Sargam Musical Orchestra, where members with various musical talents come together and hone their musical skills. This group has performed at various occasions, with different organizations like Rotary Club of Mumbai and the Senior Citizens Club.
There’s never a dull day at the Foundation as Sonali and her team are always planning things much in advance. The members are either busy creating stuff for the up-coming exhibitions or the members of the orchestra are always practicing together the latest Number One hit. It is a joy to see the members being kept busy with the good work being done by the Lakshya Art Foundation, which not only helps them with a livelihood but gives them meaning and more importantly, an equal place in the community as us all. Opening Doorz met with its founder Sonali Bane, who is forever smiling and has tons of positive energy, is always looking around to see if there is any soul out there that needs help.
When did you start Lakshya Art Foundation and what inspired you to do so?
The Foundation was started on October 30, 2015. Our mission is aimed at enhancing the quality of life of the differently-abled; to empower individuals with disabilities, to help them realize their potential and help them become active members of their families and get them integrated into daily living with the others in society.
What kind of products do the Arambha Creation feature?
The Arambh Creation department makes various handmade goods such as corporate gifts, postcards, festive items like hand-painted diyas and other such merchandise. The quality of their products is top class and we have received an overwhelming response at every exhibition.
Where does the Foundation sell these products, do you have a website or a retail store?
Yes, we have our website http://www.lakshyaartfoundation.org. And like I mentioned, we also take part in various exhibitions where our products are sold. Some are paid exhibitions, while some are free and sponsored through corporates. We are hoping more corporates come forward and invite us to either their offices or exhibitions.
Tell us something about the Sargam Orchestra?
All members of the Sargam Musical Orchestra are trained musicians. We also have trained dancers. Some of the dancers have been taught by me as I am also a trained Kathak dancer.
Do you wish there were more facilities for the differently-abled at public places?
Yes of course. Our government has to work on making places of public transport like buses and trains more disabled-friendly. There is no slope facility at most stations on the Central, Harbour or the Western Railway lines.
Would you think it would be proper for a central body to appoint a team which overlooks the functioning and maintenance of Foundations like yours?
I personally think that it would be a great idea. Unfortunately, they (the government) are launching schemes for these special children but none of these are reaching them. This is the biggest tragedy.
How many people do you have as part of the managing team of Lakshya Art Foundation?
Like-minded people have come forward to help me. I also have a few of my family members who are part of the core team, along with a few of my friends. Bhupendra Shahane, a former president of Rotary Club of Mumbai North Island, is also helping us in various ways. He has been a great help.
Do you think schools/colleges should include social service and awareness as part of the schooling program, so students are informed of social disabilities?
Students are up upcoming citizens and representatives of our nation. If they realize this early in life, it will greatly help this special community. Focused attempts should be made in schools and colleges to educate children from an early age on various disabilities and how these children should not be discounted from everyday life. It is only when we start educating the younger generation about such disabilities will they be able to pass the torch of responsibility to others.
Sonali’s determination to ensure that her initiative is being executed as planned is commendable. She’s a hands-on person, who is always there with her friends guiding, helping and even counselling the members of the Foundation on various aspects. At times, when a person seems disheartened, she has her way of getting around that person. She taps their potential and ensures they realize their value. Moreover, the differently-abled here have found a purpose and meaning in their lives.