Disability and Me…

I just had a lunch with a great friend, she told me how our common friend had misbehaved in a restaurant with a stammering waiter. He threw up his hands in air saying, “He can’t deal with him.” It reminded of my recent conversation with Anshul who told me that he was attended by two hearing and speech challenged attendants at an Costa Coffee outlet in the city. I asked him if his interaction had been satisfactory, he replied with affirmative. He said they communicated through signals. I think we can’t blame the organizations for not hiring the disabled, some of them like NIIT, BEL Ltd. and Costa Coffee are doing their bit, but we too have to change our mindsets and deal responsibly and with sensitivity.

When I published this post about empowering the disabled, one of the readers Praneshachar wrote me a long email about how his organization was providing employment to the disabled and empowering them. After reading his email, I realized he was clearly the person who had had several meaningful interactions with the disabled. I invited him to write a guest post about his experiences. Reading his article, I realized he has been working for a NGO that works for empowering the disabled. Here is what Praneshachar has got to tell us:

Disabled and Me

About 13 years back, a young 18-year-old physically handicapped boy was posted to my section. Everyone, seeing condition, thought that he will be another liability but he proved otherwise. I say another because his father was also an employee with our organization.

This boy had severe polio and walked with stretches with lot of difficulty. He joined under handicapped quota, passing just SSLC (10th). He was genius and had hands on knowledge about computers. Because of this very qualification, he was taken one grade above the staff level.

Seeing his IQ, I suggested him to do B.Com and then join some professional course. But he had different ideas. He was interested in technical stream. He joined computer diploma and successfully completed. He then applied when applications were called for diploma holders and got selected. This took him from level 2 to level 7. He moved directly from finance to technical department. Meanwhile, his father passed away and he took full responsibility of his family.

He didn’t stop at that. He joined BE in evening college and he will be completing the same. If he again applies when recruitment of engineers takes place, it will be no wonder if he jumps to level two in executive cadre. I appreciated and encouraged him for his grit and commitment. In spite of his handicap, he wanted to work on technical side, facing the challenges with lot of commitment.

I feel proud of him. Hats off to his parents who have not let him down!

I have come into contact with one blind man hailing from a village in backward district.

He works in technical area and happily married and has two kids. Both kids are normal. His wife and mother bring him to main road and leave. He comes from there to the factory. Whenever I have interacted with him, he is bubbling with enthusiasm. He has got great plans for his children. Kudos to him and his family!

There is third person near my house, he is physically handicapped. He is lame and walks with lot of difficulty. He runs a STD booth, he goes to the booth early in the morning. Around 6 o’ clock, he walks about 2 kms to catch a bus as no buses ply at that time near his house. He comes back only by eight in the night. He earns a decent income and lives happily with his family.

I had a happy stint with AASHANKURA (meaning RAY OF HOPE) a school of mentally challenged. I was closely associated with it for three years. About 55 children with various mental disabilities live here, a dedicated staff takes care of them. They are in school till they are 18. During this time, they are taught under various schemes designed for them. Some of them are taking NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) exam also. It is a great feeling when almost all of them are around whenever I visit the school. Number of children from this school have participated in National and International sports events and have brought laurels to country by winning gold, silver and bronze medals.

What they do after 18

Most of the boys are able to get into some place for work. The problem is for girls, as parents are worried about sending them too far for long and also for other reasons. Staying in house, girls can only eat and watch TV. It sometimes create inconvenience for parents, particularly mothers. These girls can not be kept in school as we take new batches after prolonged efforts & keen involvement of parents.

A Trust has been formed for this purpose. Now the girls are engaged in some new jobs: screen printing, printing greeting cards designed by them, selling some eatables etc. Right now organisation has allotted a quarter to them and provided a place for selling their items. Most of these girls are busy with their mothers actively associated in this.

We hope that the trust we started two years ago will grow. We are looking for a piece of land and have its own building, to extend the scope to larger activities. I am closely associated with it and doing my best in helping them. It is a great feeling to be part of it. Whenever I visit, I see the glow in the girls and happiness in the faces of mothers.

I have restricted my experiences with disabled to a selected few. I feel proud to be associated with all of them in some form or other.

Common man can do in small way what best they can do in their neighborhood if someone who is not groomed by parents must take up and instill confidence in them and bring them to main stream. Look for some NGO or other agencies who are doing great work. You can help them by getting involved, by contributing you time and resources, by encouraging etc. We must all do something to society all these have born or became disabled not for his fault. So it is up to individual to make up their mind. As they say: where there is a will, there is a way.

Thanks Poonam, for posting it in your blog!

Related Posts:

Empower the Disabled
Ray of Hope for the Disabled

Image Source: Worcestershire County Council

25 Responses to “Disability and Me…”

  1. 1 dinu July 4, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Touching post again Poonam and of course Praneshachar
    I used to work at a call center @ Bangalore, and they had disabled working in their admin office, and the Library …. πŸ™‚

  2. 2 RJ July 4, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Super post again! Reminds me of the quote – “The only disability in life is a bad attitude” (dont know who said that)

    In India, the ill-treatment towards the disabled is prevalent by a large number. Opportunities should be given equally. We tend to look down on these people. My school had a separate unit for disabled students and we never tried to mix up with them and I feel guilty about it now 😦

    Now since we have nothing ready for the disabled in our country we can learn from other nations, not re-inventing the wheel and ending up with a square! In the US, laws are made for these categories. 1. Kids 2. Senior Citizens 3. Citizens (Men and Women) 4. Disable – how cool can it get? I would also like to get this into everybody’s notice that even a curb on the streets has a small slope for those on the wheelchair & parking for the disabled too!

    We got a huge way ahead of us! Let’s help them be us πŸ™‚

  3. 3 Xylene July 4, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Our company has open doors for the disabled, we have slopes ( and no steps on the floor), seperate bathrooms etc.

    I think our public transportation, railway stations should be more friendly for the physically disabled.

    About the attitude of people, its hard to change some of them. Like my grand mom used to say Unless we lose our eye we will never bother on how different life is without it.

  4. 4 Reema July 4, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    I second RJ’s and Xylene’s thoughts. India is a disabled unfriendly country. There are no slopes at most railway platforms or building entrances…many such examples. We have to make them disabled friendly along with making people friendly towards such persons.

  5. 5 Veena July 5, 2008 at 12:33 am

    Great words Praneshachar.. I really appreciate the grit these people carry. Thanks for all the real life stories and I bet they are all set for improving anybody’s optimism towards life.
    This reminds about one Mr. Uday Kiran at Mysore.. I think I first saw him in one of the music compititions when he was singing. Later I learnt that he played violin, keyboard and Mridangam too. His mother and sister were encouraging him a lot and I guess he must have reacher heights by now.

    Xylene, true.. Theres a need for changes here but ya corporates atleast have started working on that I believe(others I am unaware of).. Also I was passing by a busy street and was seaching for a parking place for my car and I was very impressed with a traffic board which said, “Parking only for physically handicapped”.. I think such things are in real need.

  6. 6 vimal July 5, 2008 at 9:13 am

    Once again, a superb thought provoking post.

    U publish one each day, isnt it? some kinda resolution??

  7. 7 praneshachar July 6, 2008 at 4:02 am

    Poonam: Thanks a lot and your efforts are not measurable they are simply superb continue and I have full hope with a small section of youth who can think differently certainly things will improve. we all must be optimistic and do our little bit and this will certainly go long way in improving society and environment for less privileged class including disabled
    Dinu: Where there are touching hearts like yours posts like this will help for improvement and what begins at small level will grow into a movement in the long run
    RJ: thanks and wish the next generation make this happen make our country disabled friendly. As there are young people like u future is not bleak let us hope it will happen if all like minded start doing bit there will be sea saw change.
    Xylene:Thanks for you concern for disabled and your comment at the end is really true
    Reema: happy to note thoughts of young lot keep going and u can do ur little bit to improve.
    Veena: happy to note your thoughts of course they show your concern for society and I know you are doing a lot about it. happy to know about Uday Kiran I have also heard about him
    Vimal: Thanks. happy about your keen interest Poonam take note of his requirements.

  8. 8 RJ July 6, 2008 at 5:22 am

    @Praneshachar – I like when you say ‘young’ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜› & I am sure the youth is gonna make a big change. Have you visited youthunite?

  9. 9 RJ July 6, 2008 at 5:23 am


    A small step to a big change – maybe we will get somewhere πŸ™‚

  10. 10 Bhanu Joish July 6, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Great selfless work Mr. Praneshachar. Majority of the people only talk & forget but you are doing it silently and positively. It is very nice that Ms Ponnam has posted this in her blog. infact the people whom we call disabled, actually excel in many things, just an encouragement from people like Mr. Praneshachar & Ms. Poonam is required.

    Good work, Salaam from the bottom of my heart

  11. 11 Nagaraj Joish July 6, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Good selfless work done very silently by Praneshachar. Such positive work needs tobe published – may be without a name, if the person so desires. The negative work that goes around gets undue publicity and we start feeling that everything around is negative, where as there are equally good number of positive activities are also happening around us. The difference is perhaps only about the publicity.

    Most of us have been fortunate enough to fulfill our needs and hence it is our moral and social responsibility to contribute in any manner to those who are not able to meet their basic needs for whatever reason.

  12. 12 Poonam Sharma July 7, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    @dinu: Which call center are you talking about? Convergys?

    @RJ: Yes, we have lot to desire in terms of litigation. I don’t know how to change that. May be nominate myself as a MLA candidate? 😦

    @Xylene: Bingo! We need to have disabled friendly infrastructure and toilets. How do we get curbs and slopes made?

    @Reema: Question is how to get that action part done?

    @Veena: I learnt that he played violin, keyboard and Mridangam too

    That just proves that with support what can we not conquer!

    @Vimal: I have some time on hands, that’s why everyday. I saw you too have posted such a long post. I read halfway, will finish and comment soon. πŸ™‚ There are so many whys πŸ™‚

    @Praneshachar: Thanks for writing the post and responding to comments!

    @RJ: Shameless promotion on my blog. πŸ˜‰ j/k

    @Bhanu Joish: Welcome and thanks for your encouragement. How did you find this post, through Praneshachar?

    @Nagraj Joish: I agree Praneshachar has done a great job! It was worth publishing. Thanks for taking time out to voice encouragement. πŸ™‚

  13. 13 dinu July 7, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    @ Poonam

    Nope , 24/7 Customer, Bangalore

  14. 14 praneshachar July 7, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    RJ : i had glimpse of the http://youthunite.wordpress.com/ looks to be interesting read when I get time. Thanks for your link.
    Bhanu Joish: Thanks for kind words I am very happy about poonam and lot of like her are expressing concern about these social issues.felt great when salam came from bottom of the heart.
    Nagaraj Joish:Oh!! I am doing my little bit only certainly there are lot who are silently doing much much more. but when u do even a small work in this direction happiness u get is not measureable at all. thanks for words of encouragement it goes long way to do more.
    Poonam: you deserve lot of kudos for what all you have done thanks a lot for your comments u made me to write thats it.

  15. 15 vimal July 7, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    i kno, the question “y” makes people repel !!! πŸ™‚

  16. 16 RJ July 8, 2008 at 12:19 am

    @Poo – πŸ˜‰ You can join YU too? If you haven’t joined yet?

  17. 17 Poonam Sharma July 8, 2008 at 9:39 am

    @dinu: Ok! I don’t know why I thought Convergys.

    @Praneshachar: We could create a mutual thanking society! πŸ˜€

    @Vimal: No, it was very readable post, I liked it. There was nothing repelling. All why’s were interesting. πŸ™‚

    @RJ: I would have loved to join YU, only I already have 3 more blogs and I am not regular anywhere. 😦

  18. 18 praneshachar July 17, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    hi papa
    i didnt knw u write so well.its really a nice article.

    Poonam: Yes, Aashu, your Dad did write well! How is your nose now?

  19. 19 praneshachar July 24, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    aashu atlast you have read good
    poonam: nose problem is for my son viju he is fine thanks

  20. 20 Sanjay M August 6, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Reminds me of the winning is everything story – truly inspiring post with very practical examples by Pranesh. Very nicely written and really moved me and makes me think a lot about it. As Reema says, India is not a disabled-friendly country and one esp gets an idea about this after seeing abroad. In foreign countries all buildings are designed with disabled alternatives, and even parking is specially allocated. One can see this in well designed computer software as well which provides disability alternatives.

    This post has certainly left an impact on me to watch out for opportunities where I can support enabling this equality in our society, where differently-abled do not get marginalised out, and I believe if all us readers do this in our different professions, we should definitely make a difference – where all the discussion here is only a beginning! πŸ™‚

  21. 21 Poonam Sharma August 7, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    @praneshachar: Ok πŸ™‚

    @Sanjay M: Glad if this post could motivate you. I must again thank Praneshachar for it.. πŸ™‚

  22. 22 Amanda May 11, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    You should try to refrain from saying things like “the disabled.” Anytime you put a “the” before someone it is labeling. Refer to the PERSON first. As in saying an individual with a disability. Remember that we are all people. I want to be Amanda, not “the girl in the wheelchair.”

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