Meena Dadha Tells Us How Visiting An Artificial Limb Camp Drove Her To Change Lives
- IWB Post
- August 11, 2017
Not everyone has the courage to win over a fatal disease like cancer and then set out to help society.
We found one such “not everyone.” Meet Meena Dadha, the founder of Mukti Foundation, who established Mukti in 1986 after visiting 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 battled breast cancer.
Today, Meena is operating an artificial limb centre, Mukti, where she has been employing people with disabilities to 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 from the garage of her house in Chennai, with the help of her husband and little funding of her own. Her team has now helped to 300,000 people to get prostheses for free. They have also partnered with a US based organization that provides them assistance in prostheses’ design.
Upon the suggestion of Dr. Sarada Menon from the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF), Meena started employing people with mental illnesses. She says, It was such a great step forward, and I am glad that it had happened. Today, many of our technicians are people with disabilities and are being trained to make artificial limbs for Mukti.”
Tell us more about your team.
Meena: We practice what we preach, and actually half of our employees have orthopedic disabilities. Many of them were incapable of walking out of their homes 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.
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 on our own. We have trained technicians for centers all over the country and beyond.
Share some fun off-duty moments with your team.
Meena: On our regular days, our work place is filled with emotions and more emotions. We are just happy about being able to do such work. However, I’d like to specially mention Ayudha Pooja and our annual day celebrations, wherein the entire team gets candid and dances the night away.
How does your family help with Mukti?
Meena: Mukti does not receive any financial assistance from the government and therefore has to rely on support from the family, friends, and well-wishers.
Share one story of courage that is dear to your heart.
Meena: A boy named Jagadish came to us when he was 3. He was born with a congenital anomaly of the left leg. They got in touch with us through a man they met at a railway station. We got him a limb and made him study. He has now grown into a fine individual and is studying Engineering at St. Joseph College, Sholinganatlur. Jagadish has excelled in art, sports, and music. I am proud of him.
One ability you see in people with disabilities that others fail to notice.
Meena: Their acceptance towards the situation gives them an 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.
How do you support the inclusivity movement for the people with disabilities?
Meena: Mukti Artificial limbs provides 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 for their families but self-sufficient, and in some cases, even bread earners.
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 anytime!
One experience 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