“Self-help, Not charity”


Doesn’t this adorable picture look more like a photograph than a reproduction of a painting? It appears so true to life! This is a painting (or a reproduction of one) and the artist of this is not any ordinary person – This is a creation by J.K.Park. and he is one among several Mouth and Foot Artists, a group of truly extraordinary people.

A few days ago we received a packet in the post, it was from ‘imfpa’ – Indian Mouth and Foot Painting Artists. The contents of the packet were really amazing — some greeting cards, bookmarks, gift-tags and gift envelopes, all with the reproductions of original paintings done by the artists of Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists.

Their motto is “Self-help, Not Charity” ! Commendable, is all I can say.

They have lost the use of their hands due to accident, illness or birth deformity. They create paintings with the brush held in their mouth or between the toes. In the envelope, there was a pamphlet with pictures of some of the artists and their stories.

But they don’t ask for any pity for the situation they are in; instead, they are making earnest attempt at earning their livelihood with self-respect and dignity. Hats off to them!

The Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists is an international society which was formed in 1956. It is owned and run by the artists themselves. It has over 800 members spread across 74 countries. The Association offers financial and creative support, thus the members gain a sense of freedom and dignity as well as an opportunity to earn an independent, honest and secure livelihood. Currently, the Indian chapter of the Association supports 21 artists across the country.


When I saw this particular card among the other greeting cards etc., I was sure that a picture post card had found its way in the packet by error. Only when I read the script at the back, I realised that it was a painting by Manji Ramani.

20160827_175754-1 He lost his both hands in an accident in 1970, yet he successfully completed his  degree in Fine Arts and now runs his own private art school.

Theirs are true stories of brave achievements; and not only artistic but academic achievements as well. Srilekha Mandalapalli, who was born with a rare congenital disorder (Arthrogryposis), disabling both her hands and legs at young age, successfully completed her Bachelor’s in Commerce in 2003. At the age of ten, Manoj Bingare lost his both hands in a bus accident. He successfully completed Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and was also a recipient of Rastriya Balashree Award in 1999. There are several others in the Association who have received awards and won competitions.

“Know us for our ability, not our disability” That is what the heading reads. Their grit, tenacity, achievements – in short their lives,  are so great that any word, any adjective I may use to describe it, would sound shallow. At least I haven’t got words.

I would have said, my Salutes to them; but they are way, way above any such salutes!


Contact Details: Mouth and Foot Painting Artists: A-401, Dipti Classic, Suren Road, Andheri East, Mumbai – 400093.  Tel: (022) 40098877.

Email: contact@imfpa.org.        Web: http://www.imfpa.org.

(This is not a sponsored post; when I saw the pictures and the details, I felt compelled to write a few words)


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