Down but not out
Hemalatha, aged 25, hails from Tiruvallur District of Tamil Nadu. Having secured a Diploma in Computer Engineering, she worked for some time in a private company before being forced to resign due to her limited mobility. She went through a period of depression as she did not like being confined to the four walls of her home.
Her meeting with Vasantham Disabled Person’s Organisation (DPO) opened new vistas. She organised the Disabled Person’s Organisation (DPO) in her village and was elected its President. She was trained as a leader and even obtained a Scooty from the Government with the help of the Vasantham Federation. This increased her mobility and boosted her confidence.
Fired with the passion to help those in similar condition, she visited the neighbouring villages and organised the persons with disability (PwDs) into DPOs. She has single handedly organised 12 Village DPOs (VDPOs) in Ellapuram Block. She became a known face among the PwDs. She helps them harness the entitlements and welfare schemes from the Government and other Community Service Organisations.
Seeing her dedication to the cause of persons with disability, Vasantham Federation entrusted to her care the home based support of 30 CP children – for a stipend of Rs. 4,500 per month.
A person with good articulation and advocacy skills, she was elected President of the Ellapuram Block level DPO Federation which consists of 32 VDPOs (325 PWDs). After three months she was elected Vice President of the Vasantham District level Disabled Person’s Organisation (DDPO) which has 10,070 members as on date. She is now playing an active role in the DDPO.
“Many disabled girls/women like me come forward to assist PwDs and strengthen our bonds so that we can enjoy the fruitfulness of life.” – Hemalatha
Text editing and photo by Samarthya India