"Being disabled should not mean being disqualified from having access to every aspect of life.”
Emma Thompson

Raj Kanwar

A stolen childhood

Raj came to SKSN in 2000, two years before Polio Children was formed. She completed her high school education in 2008 and is enrolled in Polio Children’s vocational training program where she is learning skills in tailoring. “I was born in a village called Bhavad in Rajasthan. I have 4 older brothers and 3 younger sisters. Both my limbs are polio affected. I was not so by birth. My mother tells me that when I was 2 years old, I had a fever and was given an injection after which both my legs became useless. It was much later that I realised that I had polio just like my mother and my brother Bhanu.

In my village, I used to wake up at 7am or 8am and help my mother with domestic chores. My sisters would play with me but other children would refuse to do so, saying, “Who will play with you? You can’t even run”. The village school was far and I could not attend it. Every day, I used to curse my luck as I watched other children go to school.

A new dawn at SKSN

One day, my father heard about Sucheta Kriplani Shiksha Niketan (SKSN), a boarding school for physically handicapped children. The thought of going to school filled me with joy that knew no bounds. I was the happiest (child) when I got accepted at SKSN.

At SKSN, I wake up at 5am. After getting ready, I study from 6am to 8.30am. At 9am we have prayers followed by breakfast. The school runs up to 4.30pm. In the evening I play games with other children. We have our dinner after prayers at 7.30pm. Then we study until 10pm before going to bed. Everything is so systematic and we never feel homesick.

Polio Children makes life easier

Polio Children has helped us in many ways. Previously, we could not study in the evenings because power supply is so erratic. After Polio Children donated a generator, we were able to study late. I was also given my own wheelchair so I no longer had to crawl around. In 2004, we moved into the Girls’ Hostel built by Polio Children. Here I share a bedroom with 7 other girls. We have attached bathrooms and toilets, our own study area, our own kitchen, and plenty of room to move around freely. We all feel very safe here.

Building Self Esteem, little by little

When I was in my village, I cared little about my hairstyle and dressed casually. Life held no charm for me. Now I am a good girl. I take pride in my appearance and enjoy the company of my ‘sisters’. I want to tell the whole world that I am physically handicapped and NOT mentally. I am grateful to SKSN and Polio Children for making me capable of saying this.”

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