Polio has been one of the most fearful diseases over a period of thousand years. Once infected by it, what comes next is physical immobility coupled with a tough time from the members of the society. However, the story of Abha Khetarpal ,a 100 Women Achievers Awardee by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and a winner of The Universal Design Award by NCPEDP, will leave you with a sense of inspiration and respect for her.
At the age of three when most of us were busy playing in nurseries, Abha became a victim of polio. Her family, being her constant support, provided her with the best of treatments and education, supporting her ambitious nature, which made her, tries anything and everything that was feasible to be done by her. Thus, began the journey of the women, who later on became the first ever person to launch a mobile app for people with disability in India.
Valuing life as the most precious thing which she holds, she tries to get the maximum out of a day by considering as if it were the last day of her life. Modesty, being one of her features, makes her state that everyone faces some or the other problems in their life. However, the intensity of those troubles changes as what the people without disability take for granted, others have to fight hard for it. Not only are the leisure activities disrupted but also career options are suddenly made to seem restricted, difficulty arising in even making friends.
Her aspiration is pretty simple: to make the most out of her life. She considers that commitment and dedication are two essential requisites for achieving one’s dreams, and it is only through hard-work and perseverance that one can overcome their obstacles.
Reflecting over the support which she has received from the near and dear ones, the only instance when she has felt lack of assistance is from the State, which still has not able to make places and buildings friendlier towards the people with disability.
What has made her survive in adverse of situations are her qualities of resilience and patience.‘Despite my disability’ is a phrase that she feels over hyped the success of any person. Thus, she believes that by incorporating disability into her life, she has been able to reach to a point where she is satisfied by all that she has achieved.
When the world is moved by competition, it is lucky to come across her person who preaches the saying that no one else but we ourselves are our own competition in life. She believes that success shouldn’t be measured by quantitative terms such as ‘equal to’, ‘less than’ or ‘failure’ but rather by reflecting over the fact from where one started and to where one has reached in life finally.
When asked what role does a society place in the life of a person with disability, she says,” Society has a major role to play in everybody’s life whether disabled or non disabled.
Unfortunately our society has abundance of sympathy even without our asking for it! We are a culture that is expert in showing pity, sympathy and giving onomatopoeic reactions. The person who sympathizes is always remains at a higher pedestal than the person on whom sympathy is being showered. The former being the rescuer and the latter being the rescued. All his is psychologically very damaging. But let me tell you here that pity and sympathy both are injurious to health! What we need is empathy. But sadly empathy is conspicuous by its absence in our society.”
If there is any change that she wishes to bring in the society then it is to ‘inject high doses of sensitivity and sensibility’ in the people. She feels that if the attitude of everyone changes irrespective of being a person with disability or not, only then the society will move towards betterment and growth.
She does not agree with the words like ‘Divyang’ or ‘differently abled’ being used by the people, as it would lead to a situation of identity crisis among the people with disability. According to her, it is incorrect to give such names just on the basis of difference in the body of the people.
Stating that what our country lacks are not the policies but the implementation of it, she shares her mother and father as the source of motivation and inspiration in her life.
Her motto of life are the four ‘A’s- ‘Acknowledge, Admit, Adapt and Accept.’, whereas the message she wants to convey to everyone is that we should always maintain our self esteem, and never let our dignity be compromised. We should create ourselves and renovate our life.