“HANDICAPPED” is a word often seen in public transport indicating reserved seats for people with physical disabilities. Does our responsibility towards this unfortunate section of society end at reserving a seat in public transport? The most important is our attitude towards them. We must understand that they are just like us only with some disability. They too have feelings and dreams like us but unlike us, they cannot always express their feelings or fulfill their dreams due to their disability. It is our duty to stand by them, give them support and motivate them to fulfill their dreams. There are many handicapped and underprivileged people who have not accepted defeat in the hands of their disability but instead have fought hard to overcome all hurdles and earn their livelihood with their heads held high. “My earning may be low but I have not chosen the path of begging or anything illegal. Every morsel of food I eat is bought with my hard-earned money Didi”, said Kakoli, a blind lady often seen selling incense sticks and phenyl around Shyambazaar. Kakoli and her husband (also blind) are part of a group of about 50 blind people who make incense sticks and phenyl and sell them to earn their livelihood. It is not as easy as it seems. A very difficult job with very little outcome. “I love to sing Didi, I sing for Shiva. One day I will collect enough money by singing to visit Tarakeshwar Dham. I want to sing to Baba but how will I go? I am blind and I am scared people might take advantage of my situation.”, said Raja(Blind). “I am unable to earn enough to buy a wheelchair for myself. It is difficult to carry all the load and walk with one leg”, said Kanai (who lost a leg in an accident). “At our income, we cannot afford to waste Didi. Sometimes I misjudge the amount of rice I cook because I can’t see and there is excess. It turns a little sour the next day but we still eat it with lemon, onion, and some salt”, said Sathi(blind). “Doctor said it is too late for my eyes but Jhilik(daughter) is young and something might be done but I don’t have the money for medicines, surgery is out of the question Didi”, added Sathi. “My husband asked for some sattu and I mixed besan in the water thinking it was sattu.”(giggles) said Sampa (blind) and her innocent giggling brought tears to my eyes. I could almost visualize how tough it might be for them to do their daily jobs, leave alone earning. The rainy season is like hell for them. Without vision, they are unable to avoid puddles and muddy roads. Sometimes they even step into drains. We do not face these problems in our daily lives and thus never realize their pain. They need our support and motivation, a little aid, and some help. It will not only make their lives easy but their smile and their happiness will bring down upon us the blessings of the Almighty. Many times we have seen or read in newspapers about people with no arms drawing and writing with their feet. I salute all these people and their effort but there are still many disabled people who need our support and motivation to start a better life. Petals have already changed many such lives by helping start their own little business or supplying them with raw materials to make something that will yield good profit. Petals motivate them by organizing tours and programs for them so that they may never feel left out of society. So why not join us in this venture? Let’s love them Unconditionally. Let’s be their hopes. Let’s make a dream come true. Let’s make them feel equals.
They might be physically disabled but we have to make them feel able.
Sriya Pan Moitra