This profile was prepared when Setya Adipurwanta was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1990.
The New Idea
As long as the handicapped cannot get jobs, they will be poor, dependent, and consequently dispirited. The fact that they are not working also contributes to the public's perception that they always need help and therefore cannot work.Setya is setting out to change this destructive pattern on a significant scale. He begins by giving handicapped students broad work experience in school, and then sets up economically profitable workshops that provide work thereafter.In the schools for the disabled, he is creating integrated workshops where teams of blind, deaf, physically handicapped, and mentally disadvantaged students complement one another in, for example, producing uniforms, growing orchids, or cultivating honeybees. These workshops help the special schools fiscally prepare these youngsters to be contributing members of society later.Once a special student leaves school, Setya seeks to provide work in viable profit-seeking workshops. He is demonstrating how the disabled can be effective workers in a variety of solidly profitable businesses, hoping that these success stories will multiply once made known. Typically he mixes disabled graduates with school dropouts, organizing the work so that both sides can learn to work together, thereby helping each to grow in human terms as well as facilitating the work.He is careful to establish workshops only where the economics are good. He has gone into snail production both because it is a task this workforce can do well and because there is a snail exporting company in Yogyakarta, where he has started this work, providing a steady demand. Similar conditions apply to orchid growing, catfish breeding, and pet fish raising. To further stabilize these workshops, he is providing collective marketing support.