“Khaas”meaning ‘special’ in Hindi, is a unique travel agency company in Delhi which only hires visually impaired women and acid attach victims.
Founded by Akash Bhardwaj, “Khaas” is providing empowering experience to it’s physically challenged employees. The agency organizes domestic and international tours for corporate organizations, schools and colleges, other than industrial tours, family trips, adventure camps, etc.
All the work is done by the visually impaired employees – right from making appointments and helping with the presentations to closing the deals and even accompanying the groups on the trips if required.
“I was in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar area during the Diwali celebrations of 2015 when I came across a lady selling balloons. She had acid scars on her face. When I asked her what had happened, she said a boy in her neighbourhood threw acid on her face and her husband abandoned her after that. She had two kids and was working alone to look after them. She used to work as the security in-charge in a mall before the attack, but no one was willing to give her a job after the incident. ‘Everyone talks about the importance of face value,’ she told me in proper English. So I decided to help people like her by providing them better employment opportunities,” says 32-year-old Akash Bhardwaj.
He further adds “The women I work with are talented and determined. But they did not have the right platform to showcase these qualities. So I have given them that platform and am trying to make it bigger.”
Currently “Khaas” has six employees in total who are all visually impaired. They reach the office located on the fourth floor, get it clean, set up and start the work without any external aid. These girls operate their PCs with the help of the JAWS (Job Access With Speech) program that helps visually impaired people read the screen with text-to-speech output. They are also adept at using smartphones. In the last 20 days, the six employees had made 75 calls, confirmed 19 appointments, and finalized over five tours.
Akash spent almost two months training the girls, including teaching them how to get to the office. He is further planning for the company’s second round of hiring 15 girls and training them. Some will come to the office while others with mobility issues will be able to work from home. He plans to hire acid attack survivors as well.
“They are so happy with their work that many of them say they would like to work on Sundays too. They enjoy coming to the office, working together, meeting new people and talking about worldly affairs. Some of them live in hostels and don’t have their families here. One of the employees is a 32-year-old woman who lost her husband. She has a seven-year-old daughter,” says Akash.
You can help Akash take Khaas forward by contributing here.