EDITIONS
Social & Green Entrepreneurs

Anand Koti, Social Entrepreneur & Founder, Colorss Foundation

Team YS
6th Oct 2009
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Treating and aiding those with physical and mental handicaps, is a calling that requires one to be of great faith. Anand Koti has the faith and uses all his capabilities and talents to innovate new solutions to old questions. A second Dan black belt in Karate, Anand is also a psychology graduate dedicated to helping his fellow human. He spoke to Yourstory about his life’s work and Colorss Foundation saying “Colorss Foundation is a registered trust in India working towards the mainstream integration of the marginalized population through psychological, social and professional training and rehabilitation. Through the broad spectrum of its goal, the foundation handles various disability issues involving physical and mental handicap.”


His intentions are made clear as he quotes someone who had similar aims to his. Anand quotes “’Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the  graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work’ - Mother Teresa”


“Colorss Foundation is a registered trust in Vadodara, Gujarat and has its branch office at Sai Baba Seva Dham, Village Kanhe, Dist Pune. Presently, Colorss work among disabled and marginalized population of India with a focus on the children, promoting self-sustaining projects. These projects will halt, reverse, or prevent erosion and loss of each participant's innate skills. Our programs will also help participants build new skill sets, physical fitness, and personal confidence “


Anand is exceptional in his approach to empowerment and helping the helpless. His knowledge and skill in Karate have been invoked to make a change for the better along with other innovative efforts. Anand says “We are non-for-profit organization working among disabled and marginalized population of India with a focus on the children.


At present we have these projects:

Project Enhance empowers the disabled, and facilitates their inclusion into mainstream life, by training participants in karate, while providing guidance for artistic expression. This program uses sports and the arts as tools to promote physical well-being while also improving mental health.”

 

“Karate-do (the way) teaches you to better yourself through traditional training the Okinawan way....It is a discipline involving the whole body, as it concentrates the mind as well as conditioning the physique. It is a form of escapism as you focus on the moves you are making. When the physical and mental state are as one and they control the same movement, the bodies muscles will be in their entirety and the mental state will benefit. Learning how to control your movement into a fluid and adaptable motion will also benefit other areas of your life, such as the ability to understand one's own mind better. Studies have also shown that exercise is associated with positive changes in mood states and reductions in anxiety and depression.”


“The martial arts sessions are designed to promote inclusion by involving both children with disability and those without physical or mental health concerns. Children of all abilities can benefit from some of the skills emphasized in learning karate, such as improved body control, flexibility, stamina, improved breathing, muscle control, trust, low aggression and togetherness. To cite a specific example; for the posture to be perfect and well-balanced, one must learn to ensure that the following parameters to be consistent: balanced strength between the right and left side of the body, between the front and back, and between the upper and lower body.”


“By integrating drawing tasks into the sessions, the teacher feels that he can reinforce the martial arts training by helping children develop:

  • a sense of responsibility (they come to understand they have to complete the task as per the instruction)
  • eye-hand coordination (filling the colours in the shape itself)
  • controlled motor skill (control of fingers while filling in the color, the pressure applied while drawing),
  • a sense of achievement,
  • cognitive skill,
  • motor skill,
  • discrimination skill (which color to fill in which shape), and
  • Discipline (they learn to sit in a place and complete the task without making noise).

To maintain motivation and to stimulate awareness of different types of body posture and control, the teacher integrates activities like games, meditation, and dance into these 1- to 1.5-hour group sessions.”


“You can read in much detail about how this project has made a great contribution to the psychological as well physiological changes among the participants under training at: http://sportforchange.changemakers.net/en-us/%252Fnode/19289 Ashoka's Changemakers | Gamechangers | Project Enhance made its entry in the competition Feb 26 2009.”


“Project Iris: A projects for the visually impaired a simple device that will help identify Indian currency denomination. This project intends to break the stigma and discrimination faced by them, we aim to make them self sufficient and self reliant. This project works in two phases: Phase 1: Distribution of the device. Phase 2: Rehabilitation and inducing vocational training. Project Iris is an assistive device that will help identify Indian currency notes, an innovation of IIT G and winner of IRIS competition 2006. IRIS 2006 Initiative for Research and Innovation in Science IRIS - 2006 held at IIT, Delhi. IRIS is a collaborative effort by Intel, Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)”

 

“Mr.Hari Singhal (IIT - G) the winner of this device and Colorss Foundation jointly, are behind the national launch, so that this tool can help visually impaired population of India, better known as Project Iris.”


“Twenty five percent of world’s visually impaired population is in India. We have carried out a national survey; this itself gives us an idea how useful this device can be. Even if 1% of world visually impaired population staying in India is benefited from this project would be a great achievement. Brief synopsis of the survey carried out with the strong support of CII Kolkatta and other organization working among VI.”


“According to the national survey, around 69% of the visually impaired population goes shopping directly. More than 63% of the populations are involved in monetary transactions on a daily basis. 25% feel they are being cheated while dealing in monetary transactions, while more than 30% do not trust people/shop vendors. 72% feel the need to have a device in hand to identify currency. Of the study sample, 86% are willing to trust and buy the device, while 83% feel that the device will empower them and enhance self confidence.”


 “Colors of Life is an e-magazine with limited print distribution copies and pdf file for online distribution. The children involved in the project will write, draw and provide contents. This activity will require them to learn a number of important life and career skills, and perhaps above all, taking responsibility for their own work. This is the new project that will kick start at Sai Baba Seva Dham.”


Anand and his organization are centered on making changes to our society. He explains why he is a social entrepreneur and what make his venture different saying “We work on social change projects to make a difference. Our logo will help explain the model. The logo is based on the long term goal of the organization to promote self-sustaining projects so as to prevent erosion and loss of innate skills. The design approach is in the concept of a tree, which symbolizes growth, well-being, self sustaining and individuality.”


“A tree once its roots get settled or a seed after initial outside support can grow to a strong entity which serves the society. There are different colored blocks which have been used to symbolize leaves which in turn reflect the different areas or the opportunities which exists in the society. Trunk of the tree is the graphical representation of an individual which is exposed to different segments (blocks) of the society through 'Colorss Foundation'. One can interpret its meaning in different ways but still in peripheral of the larger goal. Colors used are earthen colors, so that it will give the emotion of calmness, purity, good and prosperous living.”


Unlike others who might have taken up entrepreneurship after realizing their potential for success, Anand was motivated differently he says “When you know you have some skills that can change and contribute to social change. It’s always the choice that I opted for ‘make a difference ~ spread a smile’. One of the most crucial factors to make difference in an emerging country is to promote a social change. And this is the main point that motivated the birth of Colorss. To achieve social change, it’s necessary to have a self-sustaining project with competent and engaged workforce. That’s why our main asset is our Volunteers, composed of professionals from every continent, and motivated to do their best!”


His innovative approach was taken as something far too radical, but the need to help others was too great to stop Anand. He says “My biggest challenge is the non availability of donors to finance our project because they feel martial arts and people with disabilities don’t go together. Till date no one believes that Karate can do these inexplicable wonders, they feel karate is an aggressive sports. We plan to show them the changes and make them believe. We are doing a lot of advocacy to change the thought process. Change needs time nothing is instant and most people want to see instant visibility.”


“The biggest achievement was to see a cerebral palsy girl who was in my training couple of years back. She balanced her body on her toes and hands upright in the air for more than 30 seconds. The joy on her face to see how she is controlling her motor skills is the biggest achievement. There had been similar more achievements as well which these special children gave me as a constant reminder that Colorss is on the right track.”

 

Anand is proud to state that they are registered with the UNV Online Volunteering Service. The Online Volunteering service is one of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program’s corporate tools to mobilize volunteers for development. They are in the process of starting the new branch office with project space and staff quarters at Sai Baba Seva Dham, Village Kanhe, in Pune district.


Anand is motivated and inspired to work for reasons that mean a lot to him. He says “The joy on the face of my special need children always keep reminding me that Colorss is on the right track. The way they accept me in the first initial point of contact keeps me inspiring and making me strong.”


Anand also believes that the simplest honours can mean the most. He recalls an incident that touched hi heart and honored him saying “Couple of years back working in a government orphanage. There was one resident autistic with speech problems. He preferred isolation and was afraid of a crowd. He loves to swing so we spent most of the time at the swing and I kept talking with him all the time. I cleaned his nails, gave him a bath. He understands everything and trusts me. He will hold my fingers and walk around; while walking I took a couple of other residents with me and instruct one of them to hold his hand to develop rapport between him and other residents. He loved music and is a very beautiful dancer. Slowly I was able to understand his behavior and mood swings. Teaching him social skills was very difficult.”


“He washed himself and brushed, only in my presence. Many times he would come around and pull me to the washing area (he wanted a shower). We were trying to establish his rapport with other residents so that the residents could take care of him. I was worried… Will the plan work! So in the daily routine at the swing I talked with him about the plan and told him, you need to talk to me and tell me what you want. One more effort of talking with him seemed to yield no result. I was puzzled and felt low. One fine day he smiled at me and called ‘maa’ I was surprised and asked him again what you said? He said ‘maa’ and ran away.”


His relentless efforts to help and bring about positive changes have led him to plan for the future. He plans to “roll out Colors of Life: an e-magazine with limited print distribution copies and pdf file for on line distribution. The children involved in the project will write, draw and provide contents. This activity will require them to learn a number of important life and career skills, and perhaps above all, taking responsibility for their own work. This is the new project that will kick start at Sai Baba Seva Dham.”


Anand has a word or two for those who want to create a positive change in society, he advises “Take the first step, be creative and innovative, follow your instincts with planning and manage your finances properly.”


The world needs entrepreneurs like Anand Koti and Yourstory wishes him strength in his quest to empower those that need it. We salute his efforts and pray that he never loses sight of his goals.

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