By Rupal Hariyaow
February 7, 2017, a typical Thursday evening, turned into something extraordinary for our whole team of Pravah ICS, when a WhatsApp message from Sadri saying, “Naresh got his tricycle today!” flashed on our phone screens. This five letter sentence narrated to us a story that was enough to move us all into tears of immense joy and pride, stirring so many inexplicable emotions within our hearts, all at the same time.
Naresh, a 16-year-old teen who holds many dreams in his eyes was born with a disability in his legs and was not able to stand on his own for many years. This, however, did not stop Naresh from trying and with the help of a few villagers who would tie bricks and stones to his legs for support, Naresh gradually started walking with the help of sticks on his own.
Naresh, a 9th grade student is a member of Sadri Youth Club – a club that was formed by our team in Sadri, Rajasthan during our Pravah ICS journey of twelve weeks. This journey has given so much to each and every one of us and now that it’s been almost a month since it ended, we are still receiving gifts. Naresh getting his tricycle and new crutches is one of those gifts for us.
Ever since word spread of a Youth Club being formed by us in Sadri, Naresh was keen on being a part of it. He had asked us several times, “When is it going to happen, when is the Youth Club going to start?” a rather zealous kid! “Perfect for the youth club”, we would think and smile at each other. Not to our surprise, Naresh came almost every Sunday to the Youth Club sessions, even though they were held in Sadri Panchayat, situated on the outskirts of the village. Though it was hard and tiring for him to cover such a long distance with the help of his sticks, he never complained.
What took us by surprise was this rather grim looking young fellow called Vishnu, another member of the Youth Club, who after we did a session on “Ownership of your issues and village”, came up to us and talked about Naresh’s problem and how it would be very helpful if he gets a wheelchair. We were taken aback seeing him so concerned about Naresh and his will to find a solution. At the same time, it got us thinking on the lines of how inaccessible our places are for people who are physically challenged. One more thing that came into the mind was why we didn’t think about it. Maybe, in our tenacity of making him feel included, we became ignorant to the existence of the problem itself; hence never thought of a solution.
But, we were so glad by their efforts that we felt determined to find a solution. We talked to the Jatan team and they gladly sent facilitators to the next Youth Club meeting, where Naresh’s issue became the topic of discussion which went on for more than an hour. Jatan facilitators suggested that it would be great if we make a petition for Naresh’s tricycle, get it signed by every Youth Club member, forward it to the concerned authority and ask for immediate action on it. Some members were unsure about making a petition to Naresh’s school as their previous efforts on going through the school authority to get help for Naresh had gone in vain, but they still agreed.
Jatan team helped us with the subject matter of the petition and our team member Sruthi Venugopal wrote it. The petition was then circulated and signed by all the members of the club. Even though we were all very happy about it, we were also a little concerned since we were leaving Sadri and didn’t know if this action would fetch any result or go in vain like previous efforts.
This time, however, it was different. The youth had understood the importance of taking ownership and took it very seriously even after we were gone. They contacted a doctor in Kankrauli Hospital, told him everything and asked him about the date of the camp which the government organized to distribute aid to physically challenged people and got their name registered. Now, that list had one more name – Naresh. That fortunate day came when the doctor called Naresh’s school principal and asked him to communicate the date – February 7. A few Youth Club members along with Naresh left for the camp early in the morning and stayed there till the evening until they got the tricycle and crutches. Not just that, they came back with a hearing aid machine for Khushi, a little girl in the village who could not hear or speak. Khushi can hear now! Thanks to the Sadri Youth Club members!
Vishnu confessed that getting Naresh a tricyle had been a dream of his ever since he had seen one in a hospital and it has finally came true. About Naresh, he is all giggles and smiles after getting his new trike and has been thanking his friends.
We are all still overwhelmed upon seeing their determination and efforts, love and support for each other. This incident has shown us what happens when we come together for each other. The youth of Sadri has taught us a lot of lessons without realizing it and we feel so proud of them all. They gave us a lot of hope with what they did and made our typical Thursday evening everything but typical.
(Rupal Hariyaow volunteered with Pravah ICS from October – January 2016 and was placed with partner organisation Jatan in district Rajsamand.)