Four years at Pallium India

2018 September 29
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Ashla Rani, Pallium India’s volunteer, writes:

September 28th marks my 4 years in Pallium India. I have done so many things in these four years; things I had never imagined I could do, even in my wildest dreams. There is so much to be thankful for…

It was the three-person army of Ganga aunty, Dr Sangeetha and Haridas sir who took the lead in searching for a place for me to work and live. After several months, Pallium India showed itself to Ganga aunty in the form of a small news item about a paraplegic rehabilitation center. Thus began the next phase in my life.

Now when I retrospect, two things stand out that helped liberate me from my cocoon.

First, the unconditional support of my colleagues. I was in a world where everyone helped each other, in whichever way they could. Second, the real wings in my legs in the form of an electric wheelchair. When Dr Chandrika asked me, in her sweet, quiet tone, how much it would cost for an electric wheelchair, I never thought she would find a sponsor from her own circle of friends and family. Nor did I foresee the freedom it was going to give me. Finally, when Mr Abhishek bought me one, it opened the doors to a completely new world. Till then, all I received was pity from strangers, as well as their non-stop queries, “What happened to you? Can’t you walk? Not at all? For how long?” (all in one breath) followed by a few sympathetic pats on the shoulder.

Once the wheelchair arrived, they started seeing me with new eyes and their questions changed to: “Aha!! Is this battery operated? How much does it cost? How do you charge this? How many kilometers can it go after charging once?” Children who usually avoided me began to approach, curious to see how I operated the electric wheelchair. I made friends with them by allowing them to try the joystick. The wheelchair gave me not only the freedom to move around but also freedom from sympathy (most of the time).

As years pass, things fall into routine and we take life for granted. This wheelchair has been my companion for 3.5 years. Yes, I do use it daily without thinking too much about it, but there were so many occasions when I felt grateful to be moving on my own instead of depending on others to push me around. And when I sat down on the evening I completed four years at Pallium India, this was the first thought in my mind. Every single act of kindness touches people much more than we can even imagine.

 

“My paralysis does not define me”

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