Marking the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda this year, a youth convention was organised by the Ramakrishna Mission with the support of the Department of Culture, Government of Andhra Pradesh. Held at the Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence, the occasion invited certain young achievers to address youngsters about their journey of struggle which led to their achievement. Like Arunima Sinha, the first woman amputee to scale Mount Everest.
Arunima who conquered the behemoth of a mountain on May 21 this year 2013, moved the crowd by her inspiring tale. A national volleyball and football player, she was travelling by Padmavati Express when four thieves entered the compartment and started snatching jewellery. When she refused to give her gold chain, she was thrown out of the running train. The incident turned even more gruesome when she collided with a train coming in the opposite direction, crushing her leg and leaving her with several fractures.
Arunima underwent multiple surgeries without anaesthesia (as there was no anesthesia available at the civil hospital) and was later transferred to the All India Institute of Medical Science in Delhi. Struggling to recover and come to terms with her amputation, Arunima had to also deal with speculations that the accident was actually a failed attempt at suicide. Though disheartened, she made a stellar comeback by conquering the highest peak in the world. Her elder brother, OmPrakash Sinha, took an early retirement to support his sister. He was the only one who believed in Arunima’s dream of climbing the mountain.
Shares the courageous 25-year-old, “There are two ways to handle criticism -- either you take it to your heart and get depressed or you take it as a challenge and prove it by your actions. Taking negativity in a positive way is the key to make any challenge into a victory. Dreaming is not enough. It also requires a lot of effort.”
The national player underwent rigorous training at the Uttarkashi camp of the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation for almost a year before she could make the climb with her artificial limb. Arunima now plans on opening a sports academy for people with disabilities near Lucknow to encourage them as well.
While Arunima is the crowning glory, Manish Pandey and Kiran Kanojia’s stories are inspiring in their own right. Having both lost a leg in a train accident, they haven’t let the loss of a limb stop them from living their life to its full potential. Currently based in Hyderabad, Manish is training for the Paralympics set to take place in March next year, while Kiran, an Infosys employee in the city, has been an active marathon runner and has plans of competing at the Paralympics as well.
Shares Manish, “I can complete 100 metres of running in 12.6 seconds. I am practicing to break the world record which is 11 seconds.” His next target is the Commonwealth Gmes in October.
For Kiran, who stays at Faridabad, tragedy struck just before her birthday. But almost two years on, she remains optimistic and finds inspiration in fellow disabled people who have achieved. “Of course it is Arunima and there is Aditya Mehta, the cyclist.” Aditya has in fact just completed a cycle run from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
The audience were given a chance to interact with these heroes, hopefully inspiring them to surpass their own expectations.