Anuradha, who’s now 32, was only one year old when she fell into a fire, badly burning her hands and face. For a few years she was unaware of having any disability – toddlers tend to just get on with things – but when she started school she noticed people would stare at her and it affected her confidence. “I felt ugly,” she says. “When people asked what happened I didn’t know what to say.”
A few decades passed and Anuradha was still suffering from a lack of confidence. She’d left her husband, and was trying to support her two children (son Raj, 10, and five-year-old daughter Mohita) by working as a teacher, but was barely getting by. She was under a lot of pressure, cried after each day at work and felt trapped as she didn’t think she had any other options for earning an income.
Anuradha has come an enormously long way from the days when she didn’t know how to fill in a form. Now, when people need a loan she explains the procedure and helps with the forms, and she advises others on the various government schemes and facilities. She’s vocal about the rights of people with disabilities and has already had a big impact in her community.
“There is a post office nearby where people get pensions, but there were no chairs or ramp,” she says. “It was improperly constructed and someone fell down. So I approached officials with an application and the next construction it was taken up. This benefitted not just people with disabilities, but old people and widows who use the services.
“The government needs to take action… so people are aware of rights and facilities and won’t have to run from pillar to post to access them.”
Anuradha is a strong supporter of personal responsibility. Her message to other people with disabilities? “Don’t think ourselves disabled – be confident in heart. We have to prove to ourselves that we can do better. There are many people with disabilities who can contribute to society, like we are standing on our own feet and doing things for ourselves.”