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The Indian Express
10 September 2012

Anam Prem is reaching out to mentally–challenged children by training them in the skill of mobile–cleaning

When Jayant V Desai read about mobile phones being the second largest breeding ground for harmful bacteria two years back, he immediately set in motion to develop an anti bacterial solution for cleaning them. However, despite obtaining an ISO: 9002 certification for the solution, he refrained from marketing it. Instead, Desai and the members of Anam Prem family decided to help train mentally challenged children learn how to clean mobile phones on their own. The basic idea was that once the kids are 18 years old, they can sustain themselves and become economically independent. Desai along and his team that includes Nitin Panse, Meena and Milind Katarnikar and other volunteers are doing this free of cost for over a year now. "Most of these children are kept in ashrams and homes till the age of 18, after which they have to vacate the place. They are totally dependent on their family for their survival. We want to break this cycle," says Panse.

Desai says that their volunteers first help the children to learn how to use the solution. "Once they are well–versed about the solution requirement, we help them learn the actual process of cleaning the surface. Right now 15 children have learnt the process perfectly," he says. All the children are from various ashrams in the city. 16–year–old Pratik, who has recently picked up the skill, hopes to do it professionally on his own in a couple of years. "I can clean mobiles well. I like it. I will do it," he says, as he gets down to working on a phone.

In order to give them hands on experience, the group has been taking them to hospitals and villages across the state and helping clean mobile hones for free. "We began with the KEM Hospital in Mumbai, where we cleaned all the mobile phones of the hospital staff and even the patients and their families last year. Since then we have been doing it in smaller towns and villages and if anyone invites us, we visit the place for offering this service," says Panse.

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The group has also developed cleaning solutions for vehicles and are in the process of talking to various housing societies in the city, where the the children can clean vehicles for a nominal fee that will help them sustain themselves. "We teach them, empower them and will later supply them with the means to help earn a better living," says Panse.

The funding for their work is done by the members themselves. Over the next few months, the group will will travel to Nanded, Shirdi, Nashik and Thane over the next few months. Whenever they get an invitation from any individual or organisation for phone–cleaning service, the travel expenses are borne by the other party and not Anam Prem. "We just carry the required amount of chemicals for that purpose. Ofcourse, the service comes free of cost," explains Panse. On September 21 and 26, they will be visiting the Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati and the Kasba Peth Ganpati for providing mobile–cleaning service for the people present at the venues."

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