Pallium India’s trustee, Ashla Rani received the second Znehazandram Excellence Award instituted by the Kozhikode-based Zmart Foundation for inspiring personalities.
Ashla, 39, was selected in recognition of her advocacy for disability rights in India.
The award was presented on November 11 at the Pallium India office in Thiruvananthapuram by Dr. Biju Jacob IA&AS (Principal Accountant General, Kerala) in the presence of Dr. Beena Oommen and Dr. Alex Oommen (ZMART Foundation Trustees), Fr. Koshy Alexander Ashby and Chairman Dr M. R. Rajagopal. Pallium India’s staff, volunteers and well-wishers joined the program in person or via zoom.
“I feel honoured to receive this award in memory of Sandra. The award goes to team Pallium India and to my mother, who enables me to do my bit,” said Ashla Rani.
The Znehazandram Award is an endowment setup for individuals who lead inspirational lives, by Karikkottu George Oommen and Rachel George in the loving memory of their daughter Sandra.
“In spite of hurdles, she refused to back down,” says the citation, “and her perseverance makes her a fitting recipient.”
Ashla recently received the Women’s Empowerment Award 2022 for her legendary rise as a leading inspiration to people faced with sudden life limiting challenges. Rather than being bogged down by a tragic accident that put her on a wheelchair, she turned it around into a life changing opportunity for herself and others.
Ashla had met with an accident which damaged her spinal cord 10 years ago. She has been on a wheelchair since and in spite of the many obstacles, rose to significance by making it her life’s mission to help find solutions for the physically challenged and fighting for their rights, while spreading the message that everyone had an equal right to life’s comforts and opportunities and never a charity.
“Public spaces should be transformed into inclusive corridors for the differently-abled,” Ashla says. “People’s attitude towards us must change. They want us to be inside our homes and never come out. We have equal rights in the society.”
Ashla used to work as a software professional with a reputed company in Chennai before the accident. She had completed her Masters in Computer Applicationsand decided to pursue her job since her company allowed her to work from home. But she quit since her village had poor internet access.
She later decided to move from Kannur to Thiruvananthapuram and started working in the field of palliative care. She works closely with paraplegic patients, holds awareness programmes about need to build an inclusive society and engages in social service to empower members from the disabled community.
ZMART Foundation is a charitable trust, headquartered in Kozhikode, Kerala, aimed at providing support to those in need. ZMART was founded in 2019, to uphold the principles of mercy, charity, and duty towards one’s fellow human beings, beyond the boundaries of religion, caste, and creed.