“You cannot know when someone near you is deaf as there are no obvious physical attributes, and so it is totally ignored. It is also a silent (voiceless) disability”, this is how Dhruv Lakra defines Disability of Deafness. Dhruv Lakra is the founder of a for-profit organization for courier services called Mirakle Couriers that works with a social responsibility of employing a Hearing impaired class of the society. Today the organization has nearly 70 deaf employees who successfully deliver more than 65000 shipments per month to various locations and operates from two branches of the Financial Capital of India-Mumbai. In true sense, Dhruv has given a ‘voice’ to people suffering from voiceless disabilities. The story behind the inception of Mirakle Couriers is really heart touching one. This Kalam Fan Club post aims to decipher mission of Dhruv Lakra that needs recognition across the cross sections of society.
The Inside Story behind Mirakle’s inception
Dhruv Lakra was born in Jammu and had a strong ambition to be recognized as a champion swimmer. But none of his family members nurtured this ambition. He had to be contented with an MBA degree from Oxford in Skoll programme for social entrepreneurship. On completion of Education, he joined as an investment consultant in a firm. During this period he was commuting in a public transport bus and came across a boy who was restless throughout the journey. It took time for Dhruv Lakra to identify that the boy was deaf. The boy struggled to specify the destination to the conductor. The boy used paper chits to communicate about the place to where he intended to travel so that conductor issued him the tickets.
Having witnessed this scene of a deaf boy struggling to communicate his intention in this society Dhruv’s mind wholly focussed on the needs of Deaf community. He did intensive research to understand the challenges faced by this voiceless community. In his research, he could identify nearly 6% of Indians suffer from some form of hearing disability. That is 10 million people suffer from hearing impairment. 66% of those are unemployed. That is over 6 million. So he made up his mind to start a venture that will employ these people. During this process, he had also learned traits of deaf people and also learned sign language to the best possible extent. Finally, he concluded that Deaf have greater map reading abilities and can remember routes easily. So he started Mirakle Couriers in the year 2009 in the city of Mumbai and is today operational with two branches.
The operations in Nutshell
How is the process done?
All the employees of Mirakle Courier are deaf, and the delivery boys rely on public transport as Mumbai is known for better rail and bus connectivity. The advancement in mobile phone technology in general and rampant use of text messages like SMS has helped field workers of Mirakle to a greater extent. Also, the back office employees are well trained to use emails, and email etiquette training is mandatorily given to all employees.
Why the Process?
Nearly 67% of deaf adults in India are unemployed. Those who get a job will be placed in unorganized sectors without any job security as they get only seasonal employment and usually underpaid. Dhruv and his team are on a mission to exploit the true potential of these people by providing a competitive environment so that there is a copious improvement in their confidence. The key is to eliminate negative reinforcement that would have got imposed on them throughout their lifespan.
The team lead by Dhruv Lakra is widely accepted by the society and is recognized and rewarded. Prominent Recognitions bestowed on Mirakle Courier team are:
Year -2010: National Award for the Empowerment of People with Disabilities
It is a distinguished award given by the President of India, for empowering the deaf through meaningful employment.
Year-2009: Hellen Keller Award
It is an award for playing Role Model Supporter act by Increasing Employment Opportunities for Disabled People. It recognizes Individuals from within and outside the disability sector who contribute substantially to promoting employment opportunities among disabled people in a span of time.
Year-2009: Echoing Green Fellowship
The idea behind this award is to bring in rapid social change. It supports outstanding emerging social entrepreneurs to launch new organizations that deliver effective solutions.
Often people who venture into entrepreneurship are dubbed as profit motive crew. But personalities like Dhruv Lakra disprove the general belief that doing business needn’t have business perspective alone. The team led Dhruv Lakra is forging ahead to create an environment where these voiceless people are given a voice in this naturally unequal society. Abdul Kalam Fan Club wishes Dhruv Lakra will succeed in extending the geographical operation of Mirakle Couriers across the nation and provides employment to Deaf community outside Mumbai city also.