Have you imagined what life would be for a differently-abled child? Do they have dreams and aspirations just like any of us? Yes, they too wish to succeed, to excel, to explore, to travel, to dance, to sing; the list is endless. Yet, they have not accepted the way they are. The first thing that generally comes to mind when one looks at a differently-abled child or an adult is a lot of questions. Instead of empathy, one generally shows sympathy, limiting their thoughts in the present.
Our special students enrolled at Project Sambhav from Deepalaya Learning Centre, Sanjay Colony were fortunate to meet an inspiring personality on March 22nd 2021. The occasion was a joint celebration of World Disabled Day (March 15th) and International Happiness Day(March 20th). The guest was someone who could easily relate to the hardships they face.
Ms. Vidisha Baliyan, Miss Deaf World 2019 and a retired Indian tennis player was our chief guest. With only 15% hearing capacity in one ear, Ms. Baliyan had a great run as a Tennis player but a back injury after Summer Deaflympics 2016 put a halt to her tennis career. "Tennis was something she could not imagine surviving without. The incident had pushed her into depression. But this was another challenge for her. She did not stop and went on to participate in a beauty pageant, to win the coveted crown of Miss India Deaf 2019 eventually to become Miss World Deaf 2019.
Vidisha’s achievements as an athlete, model, motivational speaker, dancer, and youth icon are awe-inspiring. She has many awards to her credit including National disability award 2019. Her story not only inspired the students to dream big; it also helped the parents to have a different perspective and instilled faith and confidence. Parents who spoke during the event said listening to Ms. Baliyan gave them the courage to let their children pursue their passion. They promised they would let them soar high. Many mothers shared their experience and vowed to help their children excel in life
Ms. Baliyan was given a tour of the campus. She was mighty impressed with the Community Library and our Sambhav project. She found drawings and handicrafts made by the students very attractive. Her manager, Shankar needs a special mention here for all his help in today’s event. For a hearing-impaired person, it is equally difficult to speak. Ms. Baliyan mentioned that she practices extra hard to perfect her speech. She prepares and practices two days prior to any public event. Her passion for excellence is still on as she continues to pursue her Masters.
Many parents were surprised to see her speak fluently and they promised to encourage their children to practice speech. Mr. Pawan Kumar translated the speech into sign language for our Hearing & speech Impaired students. She remembered her ever supporting parents with gratitude. Hearing Vidisha’s success story did impact the students, teachers, and parents. Teachers and parents promised to encourage their children to excel in life like Vidisha Baliyan. This will be an unforgettable meeting for each one of our students of Project Sambhav.
According to the 2011 census, a staggering number of 26.8 million people are disabled in India. Apart from the physical disability, these people endure social, economic, and cultural ostracism and differentiation in their daily lives. To battle, the superstitions, social boycott, fear, and anxiety from their own families and society is no mean task. Their mere existence is therefore stressful and the plight of such children from the lower strata of society is deplorable.
Deeapalaya, through Project Sambhav, identifies differently-abled children from the urban slums of Delhi and nearby places. The project aims at providing them education and life skills to empower them and make them self-reliant. We continue to remove the superstitions from the minds of people and help them see the true potential of every child. Vidisha is a role model for everyone, not only special children. We want our children and their parents to come together and be on their own just like Vidisha.