Addressing anxiety in these times



How are you? And you always get the banal reply – all well/I’m fine/Good, and how are you?

But really, how are you?

It’s not in our Indian nature to let our guard down or show ‘weakness’ by responding with even a hint of vulnerability. Even in these absurd times, when the future seems so uncertain.

This pandemic IS stressful. The disease is new, the doctors and researchers still don’t have a good grip on it and world leaders don’t seem to get it. In India we’ve seen massive human struggle, with migrant workers making their way back home on foot, being treated in inhuman ways, the poor struggling with wages being cut or disappearing completely, doctors and nurses working endless hours without the necessary protection, food or rest, stretched and lacking medical infrastructure. The list is long.

Watching the stories unfold about others, makes us anxious about our own future. There’s no predicting how severely or mildly you may be struck, when you get it.

It’s overwhelming and you’re bound to feel strong emotions inside you. Let’s just call out a few, so you know you aren’t the only one feeling this way:

  • fear and worry about your health and the health of your loved ones
  • worry about family members far away from you
  • worry about your financial situation
  • anxiety about your job
  • difficulty in sleeping
  • difficulty in concentrating
  • increased use of alcohol
  • feeling alone and isolated

Self care and the care of those in your household, is paramount.

Building physical resilience is important. Eating and exercising in a healthy manner, cutting out excesses of both. Keeping those immunity levels high, is top of the list for you and your loved ones. Do what ever is possible to keep yourself physically safe by washing your hands, wearing a mask and socially distancing. Let go of what you can’t control.

Building emotional resilience is important too. We need to be aware of what is stressing us and reduce it to manageable levels. Now how do we do that?

  1. Cut down on unnecessary spending. Be thrifty in your use of everything at home, whether it’s food or drink or cleaning products or anything else. Cut out excesses.
  2. Reduce the number of things you’re doing. Make list of all that needs to be done everyday, prioritise the tasks and plan your day. Don’t forget to add tasks that spark joy to that list. Planning your day reduces anxiety about how you’re going to get all your work done. Cutting off unnecessary tasks from your list, helps you to focus on the important ones and do them well.
  3. Create a space just for you. Could be a table in the kitchen, or a chair in the balcony, or a space on the terrace.  Make the space feel special, with a potted plant or a pretty jug with flowers, or a fragrant candle that refreshes the space or a comfortable cushion or a pile of your favourite books or a basket with wool and knitting needles. A space just for you, to get away and unwind and relax.
  4. Create a trusted network of people you can speak to or reach out to. This may include members of your family, or may be friends from work or where you study. Old friends or even new, people you trust, people who lift your spirits, people who make you feel good. May be just one person, may be more. Keep in touch with them, with the occasional message or call.
  5. Pay attention to others. Be patient with others. Everyone around you is feeling the same anxiety and fear. So be there for your friends and family. Be the warmth they need. Doing that will make you feel better too.

#staysafe #covid19





So the gifting market in India is huge… estimated at $30 billion, split into 3 broad categories – Festival Gifting ($7.5 billion), Personal Gifting ($20 billion) and Corporate Gifting ($2.5 billion)! We’re (Diya) a microscopic speck on the canvas, catering to this massive market!

Come September, the festive gifting season begins…Ganesh Chaturthi, Dussera, Navratri, Diwali, Christmas and New Year. We gear up for the season right from April, with diyas being painted, festive packaging designs finalized, stock of all the products in the portfolio kept ready for the numerous pop-up shops at Bangalore’s IT campuses during the festive months, etc. It’s the time of year that we bring in the revenues to create more employment, impact more families and take us through the rest of the year in terms of cash flows.

What you buy, matters  – what you buy from Diya, matters more. Every diya you buy, every box of Diya chocolates you gift to your loved ones, every screen printed box or bag you order –  you impact lives….not just that of the makers of the product but their families as well.

Suresh, was born in April, 1995, with cerebral palsy. With physiotherapy, his motor movements have improved remarkably over the years. After skills training at the Diya Foundation, he moved into employment at Diya Innovations, when the company was launched two and a half years ago. Today he supervises training in papier mache of a team of 10+ trainees. His duties include ensuring they get their work material in time, supervising the quality of work, tracking trainee improvement, etc. His trainees make bags, bowls, bins, Christmas wreaths and lanterns out of newspaper and discarded pamphlets.

He’s learning to be a good supervisor, trainer and leader. Employment means a lot to him. His salary of Rs. 7500 is a significant contribution to his family income. He is the chief wage earner at home. He ensures that a portion of it is saved for the future….and is proud of his personal savings of Rs.14000, to date, safe in the bank.  His mother, who works as domestic help and father, currently unemployed depend on his income to make ends meet.

So every time you have to buy a gift, need a give away for an event – either at work or for a personal occasion, buy it from a social enterprise, where the purchase makes an impact on the lives of the people making that gift. Not only are you encouraging employment, but directly building self esteem and acceptance for these individuals in their homes and the community.

Join the race to make the world a better place

On the issue of environment, the theme for the year 2016 as decided by the UN is “Join the race to make the world a better place”.

We try and do out bit at Diya …here’s some of the little steps we take –

  • segregate garbage and teach our trainees about the importance of segregation and how to practice it, with physical demonstrations, repeated lessons on the subject and practice at the work space
  • friends, neighbors and benefactors drop off empty pint beer bottles at the center which we  turn into table lamps…quite the hit at our pop up shops at IT campuses in Bangalore
  • newspaper that is collected, is made into pens, gold, silver and copper multipurpose bowls & bins and shopping bags
  • Photo film paper cardboard rolls (collected from photo studios) are converted into unique containers and tea light holders
  • Seed pods from the streets of Cooke Town and surrounding areas are used on photo frames, coasters and tea light holders
  • Old pamphlets and magazines are converted into joyous Christmas wreaths
  • Flower petals and leaves from discarded garlands and bouquets are collected from temples in the vicinity and converted into holi powder
  • Cloth scraps are made into bags

All our up cycled products are available at the center. If required in bulk, do place an order. You can see our catalogs on



Go put your strengths to work

Go Put Your Strengths To Work – apologies to Marcus Buckingham for stealing the title of his book…but it perfectly describes what we at Diya aspire to have our intellectually challenged trainees do in jobs in the community and on tasks at home. Buckingham’s research and writing stresses on strengths….and that’s the focus of our work, at Diya.

Intellectually challenged adults have limitations both in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior which covers many everyday social and practical skills. When it comes to placing them, the myth is that they don’t fit into a corporate workplace, where structures and roles are clearly defined and there’s a certain level of  inflexibility. Employers fear that the intellectually challenged are unprepared for challenges in the actual workplace. We work hard to bust this myth.

At Diya we focus on strengths – strengths are activities that make you feel strong and confident when you do them, things that others recognize as being good in you. We identify strengths and work hard on building them.

Training at Diya Foundation tackles employer concerns head on. Our daily living, social and emotional skills-training helps them with their adaptive behavior. Over the training period at Diya, parents will vouch for the fact that conversation skills improve, their wards are more self assured, there’s greater willingness and confidence in doing things for oneself, etc. The importance given to punctuality, attendance and grooming also prepare them for the rigours of a job in the community. Working on orders coming in for the social enterprise Diya Innovations, meeting the timelines and tight deadlines excite and enthuse the trainees to work hard and face challenges. Unlike many other training centers and sheltered workshops, we work on live orders at Diya, and meeting targets both on production and quality are parameters that our trainees get graded on.

Nigel, born with Down Syndrome, is meticulous with any task. At Diya for almost 8 years, he trained on completing tasks on time and with perfection. In his current job (this August will be 2 years), at a multinational in Whitefield, Bangalore, he works on keeping the work place clean. His strength, one that makes him an asset to his team, is cleaning whatever space he’s given, to the best of his ability…quite often that’s far greater than the ability of a ‘normal’ person. In his first week on the job he showed his team his strength…while wiping downs tables at the canteen, he noticed encrusted food between the slats of wood of the table. Using a coffee stirrer, he scraped the food away and used a broom to clean up the scraped food….there’s no guessing how long that dried up food had been there! Nigel has settled well in his workplace thanks to the sensitization of the team to the needs of the differently abled and the allowances and adjustments made in structuring the tasks. His adaptive behaviours have also improved over time.

Bhuvana, born with Down Syndrome is another example of perfection at a repetitive skilled job. She makes perfect newspaper bags, folding, pressing and sticking those sheets on a die. Her ‘reject’ rate is zero. She’s a huge asset to Diya Innovations, where she is employed, creating bags for boutique stores and restaurants. She’s conscientious of the quality and quantity expected of her, and never disappoints.

Though there are plenty of monotonous, repetitive jobs that our trainees would be great at, placements in the community are rare. The onus is on us to advocate the strengths of this workforce and help the employer see the benefits of employing them.

Employment for them means greater self esteem, greater acceptance by the family and greater inclusion in the community. Do get in touch with us if you see jobs in the community, where we could place our trainees.