(September 26, 2023) When COVID hit the world, several schools were impacted around the globe. One such school was Parivartan Special School, which initiated Project Nishant, which provided the school and its students with crucial support during a financial crisis. It was for this project that a Grade 12 student of The Shri Ram School, Moulsari Campus, Gurugram, was first introduced to the world of neurodivergent individuals. Working as a volunteer for the project, Tarini Malhotra was moved by their everyday struggles, and the young entrepreneur decided to do something for these kids.
“The person who contacted me is a family friend and was aware of how eager I was to do something in the field. I jumped at the opportunity and helped the school raise funds through crowdfunding,” the 18-year-old entrepreneur said, adding, “The school was in urgent need of funds because of the pandemic. During the fundraising process, I got a chance to interact with the school students. I realised the problems they face, even when it comes to doing simple things in society — such as making friends or finding good schools. I learned that there are no avenues for them, especially if they come from the weaker sections of society.”
And thus was Nai Subah Foundation born – a social start-up fighting the good fight for the neurodiverse and the marginalised. The entrepreneur recently won the prestigious Diana Award 2023 for her social action and humanitarian work. “As a next-gen changemaker, who wants to create a better and more inclusive community for the neurodiverse, the world is often a hostile, unwelcoming place. Recognition from The Diana Award provides me the inspiration to carry on building the transformative journey. Further, it enhances the credibility of our start-up, helps to open doors, and develop more meaningful networks that can enable and enrich Nai Subah Foundation’s projects in a multitude of ways,” she said after winning the award.
Always helping others
Growing up, Tarini was inclined towards helping others and was encouraged by her parents for the same. “In my school, we have some students who are neurodivergent and have disabilities. Spending time with them over many years made me sensitive to their needs and helped me understand the issues they face in society. This encouraged me to do something that would make a difference,” the entrepreneur shared, adding, “When I was in Class 8, I volunteered as a teacher for a free school that taught children at the banks of Yamuna. That gave me a new perspective about these kids.”
Talking about the time she joined hands with Project Nishant, she said, “I began spending a lot of time with children who had autism and ADHD. I found out that they were so talented. Our society focuses so much on what is wrong that they forget to glance at the positive aspects. Most people consider the neurodivergent to be a burden or a liability. This restricts their opportunities, making their life harder than it should be.”
In 2020, the entrepreneur established Nai Subah Foundation, with an aim to focus on the well-being of neurodivergent people through various programmes. “The first thing that I wanted to do through the organisation was to provide the neurodivergent with avenues of work. We help them get jobs in the corporate sector. We also conduct sensitisation workshops so that they get assimilated into the space easily,” the entrepreneur said, adding, that the organisation has collaborations with over 50 companies till now.
Extending a helping hand
The organisation has implemented alternative employment models to support individuals who are unable to work in a traditional office setting. “For many people with neurodiversity, it is very difficult to go out of the house and work in an office environment. We outsource work from factories for them so they can work from home with ease. For example, we supply the materials needed to make boxes or packaging work, so they don’t have to face the stress of working in a factory,” the Global Indian explained.
What’s more, the entrepreneur is using their creative side to work as well. “We help artists find a platform by conducting exhibitions, both online and offline. This way, they get a chance to promote their work and get recognition. We also help them get orders; for instance, during Diwali, we try to secure orders for specially commissioned artworks of Lakhsmi and Ganesha,” the entrepreneur said, “We are also mentoring four young neurodivergent photographers and helping them secure professional assignments.”
The entrepreneur has huge plans for the foundation’s future. “As for the future, we want to help neurodivergent entrepreneurs get funding and help them boost their ventures. This will not only uplift them but also uplift the people of their community,” she said.