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.
His sister, who lives with Crouzon syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, is now a 43-year-old woman. She often visits an NGO to spend her time. Mohit points out that unfortunately, beyond making candles, diyas or baking cookies, there’s not much that the world allows these individuals to explore.
“Things have changed, but our perception of the differently-abled has not. Is making candles and graduating high school the best they can do? Who are we to define their potential?” he asks.
And it was this question that led Mohit, a Delhi-based photographer, to start an initiative called Know Disability, which is meant to shatter these stereotypes against disabilities.
When did the initiative begin? “It started in 2015. I had followed my passion but still felt unfulfilled. So I quit my job and decided to hold a 10-day photography workshop for people with disabilities. I wanted to share with them the knowledge of what I loved doing. But then there were things they taught me as well!” he shares.
Till date, Mohit has trained over 300 kids from various schools and NGOs. Among those, more than 15 students now work as professional photographers!
Mohit adds that by applauding their smallest achievements, we are limiting them in their minds.
And so, his students are no less; instead, they are his superheroes.
“When a special needs child passes Class 10, their parents feel that it is a big achievement. However, this is wrong and in a way, patronising. The child is not incapable of getting ahead. The parents need to stop defining the limits for their children and instead, push them to do much, much better,” he points out.
Mohit’s simple philosophy is to help these children and adults get freedom from any such limited expectations. By saying that they can do whatever they want, and building their confidence, one can genuinely aid them to be the best version of themselves.
After all, indeed, there ain’t no mountain high enough!
“Let’s expect more from them—making candles, and diyas is excellent, but they are capable of a lot more, he concludes.
MG Motor India and The Better India present MGChangemakers Season 2, with stories like that of Mohit’s, which prove that when individuals curate meaningful experiences, large scale social change can be triggered. As Mohit says “In the end, we all bond over one thing, our love for stories. It’s a human thing.”
Check out the journey of this inspiring photographer in this video below: