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“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”

- Walt Whitman

The world is full of extraordinary people who overcome some huge obstacles in life. Over the past few weeks, I have had the pleasure to meet some of them. In my recent visit to Swabhiman’s ICRC (Inclusive Child Resource Center) I was able to meet many differently abled children along with their parents. Each and every single one of them has had to fight social and economic barriers throughout their lives. They have been called names, been given up on by others, been ridiculed at, but nothing seems to bother them. They come to the Center to be together, to learn a to enjoy. The 4-5 hours they spend there are the best hours of their day. For them, it’s a place where there’s nobody telling them who they are or are not. It’s a place where they can be their true selves.

In the Center, I met a boy named Baidhar Murmu, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy. He studies in the seventh standard in Loyola School. Baidhar is a serious boy who wants to do well and succeed in life. He was kind enough to let me and my friend interview him. This is how it went:

Interviewer: Could you please tell us a little about how your life has changed after Swabhiman’s Saksham Project?

Baidhar: Before the Saksham Project, I did not enjoy studying. But ever since I’ve been a part of this Center, there has been a great improvement in my academics. Since I’ve come, I have learned Hindi, English and Odiya. My mathematics has improved leaps and bounds. I feel like I’ve become good in the subject and I want to improve more.

Interviewer: What about school? How would you compare this place with school?

Baidhar: School is nice but I prefer the Center. In school I did not have many friends. But after joining the Center I’ve learned to be friendlier as I spent time here with other children in the center. I have made more friends in school now. I try to play some sports like cricket and football. I am now participating in more events now. I try my best every time. I also won a medal for group dance.

Interviewer: What do you think were your primary issues with studies earlier and what changed?

Baidhar: I think over time I realized how important it was for me to do well in studies. I tried harder to improve and I started enjoying myself eventually. My teachers in school eagerly clear my doubts. I also started going to tuitions outside the center. They have been of major help.

Interviewer: How important do you think your family’s support is?

Baidhar: My family is a major support for me. I do not have a very rich background. but my family still sent me to Loyola school instead of a government school. They have always wanted the best for me and I am grateful to them for that.

Interviewer: What would you like to be when you grow up?

Baidhar: When I grow up I want to become an engineer. I know that I have to work very hard to do well so I will keep studying and try my best. I know people are there for me. My family is working hard to help me. The Center Facilitator bought all school books for me. She also calls my parents to ask if I’m studying or not. She is the one who asked me to join tuitions outside. The other children in the Center also want me to excel. I am glad that I have so much support.

Interviewer: What is your advice to other people with disabilities?

Baidhar: To be friendlier and to work hard. With hard work you can achieve anything, and with the support of others you will always feel good.

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