April 01, 2020
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This 42-Year-Old Paralytic Is Determined To Give The Disabled A Better Life

This 42-Year-Old Paralytic Is Determined To Give The Disabled A Better Life
IF the adage 'when the going gets tough, the tough get going' was proclaimed by our men fighting in Kargil, it sounds equally justified when Kamal Paswan, a 42-year-old paralytic, says it with quiet, firm conviction. That true dedication and grit can overcome the most insurmountable of obstacles can be realised while watching Kamal in his workshop—Viklang Kendra. This is the NGO that Kamal, armed with two wooden crutches and his fighting spirit set up after going through the trauma of being handicapped for the last four decades. His aim: to prevent others like him from facing the same problems he had to counter.

What distinguishes Kamal and his orthopaedic workshop is that he's Bihar's first handicapped person working for the welfare of the disabled and the non-profit workshop is run entirely by the handicapped. Poor disabled people are treated, trained and rehabilitated free of cost, and for those who can pay there is just a nominal charge, obviously to "run the Centre", says Kamal with a smile. So far, more than a 1,000 people have benefited from the Centre, receiving their 'artificial' lifelines that help them face the problems in day-to-day life which only a physically challenged person can feel, says Kamal.

Kamal, who is a matriculate, received a jolt early on in his life, when, at the age of three he developed paralysis in his left leg. Things soon became worse and by the time he was 10, he was about 75 per cent paralysed. But Kamal, refusing to wallow in his suffering, decided to fight it out. Keeping in mind the words of his school teacher that 'defeat is painful but it becomes doubly so if accepted without a struggle', Kamal made up his mind to help those similarly affected. Reaching the state capital with the help of a local politician, he enrolled at the Kamla Nehru Centre for Rehabilitation of the Handicapped and undertook training in a leather manufacturing unit specialising in making orthopaedic support systems for the disabled. After completion of the training, the then secretary of the Centre, K.N. Shandil, who was quite impressed by Kamal's compassion for the handicapped, suggested that he start an NGO. Encouraged and enthused by the idea, Kamal did precisely that. "Initially, there were a lot of hiccups but with the support of some well-known orthopaedics of Patna and some affluent persons, my dream was realised," he recalls.

Till date, Kamal has not received a single paisa from the state government or for that matter any other government organisation but he isn't complaining: "It doesn't matter if the government grants haven't come. I've received a lot of individual support and will continue my work for the benefit of the poor." He feels he owes a lot to the good samaritans—including some bureaucrats—who helped him realise his efforts. Kamal's Viklang Kendra, that strives to give the disabled a new lease of life, specialises in making artificial limbs and other prosthetic devices. Besides Kamal, the other three handicapped employees of the Kendra are Rameshwar Paswan, Kamal's cousin, Sunil, and Ranjan Rajak—a 12-year-old boy. Ranjan, whose right leg had to be amputated, was left destitute and without support till Kamal came to his rescue, "Now Kamalji is everything to me—my mother and father. For me he is greater than God," says Ranjan.

Kamal, on his part, is hopeful that someday he will be able to open branches of his Viklang Kendra in other parts of the state. This man's determination to achieve his goal is evident as he says: "When one sets one's mind to a task, success is bound to come". His unwavering resolution will certainly ensure that. Anyone who wishes to help Kamal in his efforts, can contact him at—Viklang Kendra, Vashisth Narayan Road, New Area, Near Congress Maidan, Kadamkuan, Patna-800 003.

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