Dear Sumithra Ji,
I have been hearing about Sai Bakery for quite some time now, and the reason why I was initially enthusiastic about your enterprise is because I am a baker myself and love to make homemade chocolate cakes, brownies, fruit and nut cookies etc.
But my stock of works took a halt when I found that your son bakes some of the most innovative items like the red muffins and blondies (which ofcourse I saw in one of the inspiring videos of Sai Bakery on You Tube) I truly believed that I could be a part of this “yummy exercise” as prescribed by you, as I want to do something big, something creative. I also found that Sai is the only bakery that produces over 25 eggless varieties of whole wheat, multigrain and butter free cookies.
Though my physical self is often pulled back due to my distorted limbs, but I have not let my spirit be chained. I want to identify myself as one of the productive social individuals like anyone else, despite the fact that due to my 10 years old operation, my movement is restricted by a wheel chair, and I often tend to forget things, I exactly do not know, what syndrome can be allotted to my disability, and I do not even wish to know, because as I am reading more and more about you, I have started believing, that once I join your mission, there will be no ‘dis’ of abilities, rather they will be transformed to special abilities, with which I can learn something new, something fruitful and make most out of the beautiful life that I have by God’s grace.
Sai Bakery is an inspiration for the society, for common people, that each one of us has a responsibility towards society and lending out a helping hand can help persons with special abilities, identify their worth and utilize their talent for doing something good, which will not only help them learn something productive but also ensure their economic foothold.
Since the unfortunate event of my life, I have been trying to inspire myself with stories and articles of emerging heroes like Judy Collins (fighter of polio), and the next person to give me new hope is you.
The way you encouraged your son, Srinivasan to set up something which he dreamt for, you allowed him to “bake”, and supported him, so that he could infuse the dream in others as well, is commendable. In such situations, parents in India, ignore what a growing specially-abled kid is saying. The society feels that they do not have the “intellectual quotient” to determine what life is, but you ignored Sri’s Asperger’s syndrome, and not his will power and the result is Sai bakery.
Today grown up adults with short learning capabilities do not feel that they are lacking somewhere from the general mass, because your mission has invited these special people with encouragement to create a world for themselves, where they can learn, work and earn for themselves with due self-respect. The money is not important, the immense confidence that it imparts to people like us, is priceless.
We need special care and attention to survive, but our families are often tired of bearing with us, as the society generally calls any kind of physical or mental disability as a stigma, and they either show sympathy, or disrespect towards us. We may be different from the mass, but we are human like everyone else in the society and we want to live, proudly, happily and I am glad Sumitra Ji, that your initiative gives this opportunity to atleast some.
When I see Shoma on the videos, when I find her recycling the plastic bottles and papers into beautiful flowers and decoratives for the cakes, that too while moving on a wheelchair, I believe your words,
“We are not a regular bakery. We make products when we get orders and deliver them fresh. Our aim is not to earn profits but to empower and give a sense of respect and individuality to these adults who have been often ignored even by their own families,” and I wish I can do the same someday.
Sai bakery definitely doesn’t look like a bakery, but more like a ‘canopy’, a love nest, where you are bringing up a family with growing adults, and the institute not only fulfils their economic need, but more significantly their special needs, social, emotional and psychological needs.
Baking is just a part of engaging them in activities, but you look towards complete self-development of an individual with your special yoga, exercise classes, and spiritual development as well through prayer sessions. Today, the ones who lack so called “intellectual quotient” actually know what to do, because of you.
Today your family members, Babu, Anand ji, Sharmini Ji and Shoma, really inspire me a lot, some of whom are fighting with severe diseases like cerebral palsy, autism and retardation, but never express it on their face or in their work. Envisioning them gives me courage, I feel I am much more blessed and can easily overcome my weaknesses with your support.
Sai bakery started as a neighbourhood initiative in Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai, in 2013 supported by DORAI (Development Opportunities Resources Access Insight) Foundation, to socialize the specially-abled adults, when you felt that,
“We all have dreams, but to make them come true, it takes a lot of effort. When my son Srinivasa expressed his desire to set up a bakery, it was imperative that we supported him to work towards achieving it,” and eventually in the process, you have been a wonderful mother, a wonderful entrepreneur, and helped fulfil dreams of many individuals, by giving us a hope, a true support to rejuvenate our spirit, so that we can live our lives on our own terms.
Today you are successful in your aim. Not only have you initiated the removal of stigma from special ability, but have also succeeded in spreading an awareness and sensitivity in society, such that many like me, know about you and want to join you, and many from their hearts praise you and salute you for doing something so noble.
Sai bakery will continue to grow, and will help others grow with their abilities, and I will be really honoured if I could join your mission and give you the taste of my cakes.
Baked with love,
An ardent admirer with special abilities.