When clinical psychologist, Mala Giridhar and her husband, Dr Giridhar, a psychiatrist, decided to address the stigma associated with people with disabilities, little did they know that one day their efforts would empower the people they wanted to help both financially and emotionally. The husband-wife duo runs an NGO that engages people with diabilities to make items like pens and folders from newspapers and clocks, lamps, bags, purses boxes and photo frames using banana fibres.
Mahesh Kumar Ranani, 62, started losing his eyesight when he was in the first standard which gradually deteriorated over the years and it was difficult for him to cope up with academics as he wasn’t studying in a special school at the time.
Durga Prasad Patnaik, 47, was left paralysed from the shoulder down in a road accident in June, 2015. The chartered accountant from Bhubaneswar sustained a spinal cord injury, was hospitalised for about two months and is now wheelchair-enabled.
Mohit Ahuja was confronted with the existence of social labels quite early in his life. “The world creates separate boxes for people to inhabit and pre-determines the scope of their potential. It happened with my sister, who was labelled differently-abled. Although we were born from the same womb, we inhabited very different worlds,” he says to The Better India.
Kanchan Gaba has a few go-to lines that she includes in every motivational speech. Erase all the boundaries around your dreams. The problem is not whether we can achieve something; the problem lies in the way you think. If you restrict your imagination and thinking, you will have a hard time reaching your goal. No problem in the world is bigger than your dream. A two-time recipient of the President’s Award, is a lawyer/legal consultant by profession who has dedicated her life to uplift the underprivileged sections of the society, through ‘Turnstone Global,’ a Kolkata-based NGO. “Honestly speaking, sometimes these words are helpful even when I need inspiration,” the 40-year-old tells The Better India.
Also commonly known as Nick Vujicic, he was born with tetra-amelia syndrome (absence of limbs). He is a motivational speaker who has touched the lives of millions. He swims, plays football, and pretty much does everything, just like any other person. Nick didn’t let his disability stop him from staying happy, achieve his goals in life and live life to its fullest. He founded an NGO named Life Without Limbs through which he motivates people to have faith in Jesus, who he believes gives him strength. He also starred in a short film called The butterfly circus for which he was awarded best actor in a short film by Method first Independent Film Festival.
Muniba Mazari belongs to Pakistan. At age of 21, she met with a car accident that left her lower body paralyzed. She spent 2 and a half months at a hospital and underwent 3 major and 2 minor surgeries. The list of her injuries is a long one, out of which, her spinal chord injury changed her life. She started painting and discovered her skill when she was bedridden for 2+ months. While she painted portraits of sorrow and how she felt, others found her work absolutely astonishing. It has been almost 10 years since her accident, she is now a motivational speaker, a prolific artist and interestingly, a wheelchair model and television host. Rising from Pakistan, she wants the world to recognize the talent and zeal of Pakistani girls. Being a model and a motivational speaker, she is also one of the most famous people with disabilities.
One of the greatest living minds on the planet does not need an introduction. Stephen hawking stands among the most famous people with disabilities who have changed the world with their life’s work. He is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist. His work involves black holes, gravitational synergy theorems, quantum mechanics and a bunch of other things that I need another lifetime to understand.
Aarunima Sinha, the first Indian Amputee to concur Mount Everest. She lost her leg when a group of thugs pushed her from a moving train. She constantly received pity and sympathy from people around her which she did not appreciate and she was not ready to accept that she could not do things just like everyone else. So, she climbed The Mount Everest and proved to the world that will power and dedication matter more than a perfect body to achieve great things in life. If these famous people with disabilities can do things which even physically gifted people cannot do, then there is nothing you cannot achieve in life.
She met with an accident when was 16 years old. While plastrering her wound, doctors missed a little something is her ankle which later worsened with time. As a result, she had to lose her leg and now has a prosthetic “Jaipur Foot”. She did not let her loss of leg demotivate her and now she is one of the most popular classical dancers of India.