Meena Dadha Tells Us How Visiting An Artificial Limb Camp Drove Her To Change Lives
- IWB Post
- April 20, 2017
Not everyone has the courage to battle and win over a fatal disease like cancer and then set out to help society.
We found one such “not every one.” Meet Meena Dadha, the founder of Mukti foundation, who formed Mukti in 1986 after visiting to an artificial limb camp in Chennai.
Meena got married at the age of 17 and it was her husband and loving family that helped her shape her vision in life. She struggled with dyslexia during her childhood, and later breast cancer. Fighting them through, she discovered her passion to do something for the society. Today, Meena is operating an artificial limb centre, Mukti, where she has employed people with special needs who manufacture limbs using PVC.
“One day, my husband and I were invited to an artificial limb camp in Chennai. I saw over 500 people there who needed prostheses but only 100 got them,” She then started Mukti in the garage of her house in Chennai, with help of her husband and little funding of her own. From two to fifteen, her team has extended to help over 300,000 people for free until now. They have also partnered with a US based organization, that provides them assistance in coming up with better designs.
Meena is not only making people walk but also provide better lives to many. Upon the suggestion of Dr. Sarada Menon from the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF), she employed some people with mental illness. She says, It was such a great step forward and I am glad that it happened. Today, many of our our technicians are people with special needs and are even trained to make artificial limbs for Mukti.”
Indian Women Blog: How has Mukti transformed your life?
Meena: Mukti is my way of giving back to the society that has given me so much. This service has given me a lot of happiness and confidence.
Indian Women Blog: You employ specially abled people as your staff. Would you please share a success story?
Meena: We practice what we preach and actually half our employees are either orthopaedicaly or mentally challenged persons on rehabilitation. Many of them were incapable of walking out of their home to a shop across the road but today they travel long distances by public transport on their own. Each case is a success story in itself.
Indian Women Blog: How do you train your technicians?
Meena: 32 years ago, my first technician was trained by Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti, Jaipur. Now we have the capability to train technicians ourselves. We have trained technicians for centres all over the country and beyond.
Indian Women Blog: Share some of your favorite off-duty fun moments with your team.
Meena: On our regular days, our work place is filled with emotions and more emotions. We can’t help but be happy about being able to do such work. However, I’d like mention about Ayudha Pooja and our annual day celebrations, wherein the entire team got candid and danced the night away.
Indian Women Blog: How does your family involve in Mukti?
Meena: Mukti is a service project of M.S. Dadha Foundation, which was founded by me along with my husband, and our family. Mukti does not receive any financial assistance from the government and therefore has to rely on support from the family, service clubs and organizations, friends and well wishers.
Indian Women Blog: Tell us one story of courage that made you shudder.
Meena: Actually there are two. So the first one is about a boy named Jagadesh who came to us when he was 3. He was born in 1994 with a congenital anomaly of the left leg. They got in touch with us through a man they met on a railway station. We got him a limb and made him study. He has now grown into a fine individual. His mother, Mrs. D. Prema says, “When Jagadesh was three years, we brought him to Mukti. We met the founder, Ms. Meena Dadha, who was very kind to us. She provided our son with an artificial limb and took the responsibility of getting him educated at Shishya, the well- known school in Adyar, Chennai. Jagadesh studied there up to Std. 10. Everyone considers Jagadesh a pet child of Mukti even today. He is now studying Engineering in St. Joseph College, Sholinganatlur. With the encouragement and support of Mrs. Dadha, Jagadesh has excelled in art, sports and music. He also received the awards, Isaignyanamani and Layagnyanamani, for music from Sai Natayalaya, Nanganallur, Chennai. We are indebted to Mukti and Mrs. Meena Dadha. We pray to the Lord Almighty that her service to the disabled should continue.”
The second story is of a man who lost his leg in an accident and his job, too. His name is Venkatesan. Today is again employed and supports his family. He says, “My name is Venkatesan. I was earning my livelihood as a daily-wage worker. In January 2007, I met with an accident and it seemed that there was no hope for me. I had lost my left leg below the knee. I also lost my job and became a liability to my family. Two years ago one of my friends told me about Mukti. I came to Mukti and they fitted me with an artificial limb, free of cost. Once I started walking, I got a job in Hotel Pallava in Pallavaram, Chennai. I earn a decent salary, which is helping my family. I live today with respect and dignity. I am very thankful to Mukti for making this possible.”
Indian Women Blog: What one struggle are you very proud of winning during the dyslexia phase?
Meena: There is nothing to be proud of. In retrospect I wish I had done more as the need is much larger.
Indian Women Blog: You gift people the ability to move freely. Share with us the most memorable reaction on receiving the limbs?
Meena: I cannot express my happiness in words of the feeling I get when I see that people who came crawling, are soon seen walking, using a Mukti limb. The whole atmosphere gets charged with emotions. These moments are worth living and witnessing.
Indian Women Blog: One ability you see in people with disabilities that others fail to see.
Meena: Their acceptance towards the situation gives them immense confidence to fight ahead. They need our empathy and not sympathy. And let me tell you, people with all abilities at times lack the special ability to embrace themselves.
Indian Women Blog: What does your regular day look like?
Meena: I wake up every morning and begin it with one thought, “Each day of my life is happier than the other days. Today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will be still better.”
Indian Women Blog: How do you support the inclusivity movement for the specially-abled?
Meena: Mukti Artificial limbs provide the mobility to people in need but it is equally important to make them financially self-sufficient. We provide vocational training, education, job opportunities, and rehabilitation to them. They are no longer a burden on their families but self-sufficient, and in some cases, bread earners for their families.
Indian Women Blog: You are gifting people the ability to move. Let’s explore your life on the move:
- One occasion that made you dance?
Well I am a born dancer so I don’t need any occasion. I can dance any time!
- One memory that you want to run away from?
When the so called normal people don’t understand the specially abled people.
- If you were to go on a walk, whose hand you’d hold?
The all mighty is holding my hand and guides me. I do not need to hold any hand except mine.
- One travel destination you’d love to fly to?
Tibet and Sikkim