The Chaanan Vocational Centre in Jalandhar is headed by its 67-year-old founder Amarjit Singh Anand.

Amarjit’s zeal to create such a safe space began in 1987, the year his daughter Jasjeet was born and diagnosed with Down syndrome.

While they enrolled Jasjeet in a special school, an unsettling thought lingered at the back of Amarjit’s mind — “Today, her mother and I are here to take care of her. What will happen when we are not?”

As Amarjit and his wife started attending workshops in Punjab, they met other parents who also shared the same fears.

In 1994, Amarjit founded the association, which he named ‘Chaanan’ to create a community through which children with disabilities would be in safe hands when their parents were not around.

Since its inception in ‘96, Chaanan has grown from a team of 11 parents to 400. Years later, in 2014, they decided they wanted to have a vocational centre for the children, a dream that was realised in 2017.

The campus spread across 9,000 square yards of land has vocational labs, workshop spaces, and a physiotherapy room.

From 10 am to 2 pm, they engage in prayers, warm-up exercises, music, dance, painting, and craft. For the self-advocates, coming here every morning is bliss. But for the parents, it is a safety net.

“I was faced with the challenge of bringing up a disabled child, and at the time, I had other parents to count on. Having a support system helps,” he says. “It gives the feeling of family.”

As for the future of Chaanan, Amarjit says they plan to set up housekeeping training, and also train the children for retail stores and fuel stations.

Along with this, they are also looking at having bakery units, as well as tea and coffee booths in different districts.