The International Day of Persons with Disability came with a completely new meaning for me this year. Firstly it held a lot of significance which earlier it didn’t, mainly because of awareness and understanding about deafblindness and people with deafblindness that came with the job.
I was an outsider, a mere spectator to the community of the disabled. I have come across people on ‘triscooters’ on the roads, or passing by at various random places, but never have I interacted with any specially abled person on a one to one basis. But since the past 7 months, I have talked to them, thought about them, studied them, written about them, cried and laughed with them and now I can say, I know them so much more and yet it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Along came the opportunity to be part of the event organised by Times of India and ONGC as well as the National Conclave organised by Sense India.
The strong community of people with disability gathered together showing their solidarity through cultural performances and participations. They came in wheelchairs, climbed the ramps on crutches, some dragged themselves on hand driven cartwheels, some found their way with canes or others shoulders. They were deaf, blind, deafblind, mentally challenged but none of that mattered. It was their day and they celebrated.
One thing common between them was the smiles on their faces. When they shared their stories of struggle, they narrated not their weakness, but what made them strong. When they were discriminated, misunderstood, cornered, ignored and even insulted, the one thing that made them keep on – the will to survive. But now with the right help, they are where they want to be. They sing and make merry because they have made joy a choice.
“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.” Helen Keller
There is a reason why they are called “specially abled” and not “disabled”. They can do everything like everyone else, but in a special way. They need to be equipped with the right tools and support which is our responsibility as fellow beings.
As for me, I celebrated with the “specially abled”. I interacted and heard beautiful stories from families and educators (which I will share with you soon). I captured those moments in time through my lenses. I remind myself that life may not be easy but you got to do the best you can with it. You got to learn, you got to adapt but you got to move on.
written by Sheryl Shiju Sam , Communications Officer @ Sense India.
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