“I want to become a social worker to help my own people in my village,” says 21-year-old gentleman Asif, who lives in Arekurhatti in Dharwad district in Karnataka in a small house given by the government (Janata Plot).
Asif’s father purchased a tractor on a bank loan, he drives on his own, but there is a bank loan yet to be paid. Asif’s mother takes care of the family. His younger brother is a 7th grade dropout who took the responsibilities of the family; he runs a small vegetable shop.
Until the age of 5, Asif was in good health. As he was growing, his disability also increased--both his legs started to bend. “My parents were practically seeing it, due to lack of education and poverty, neglected me,” says Asif.
As a young boy, he joined a nearby government school. He loved to play games. He only completed his 5th grade in his village because the village did not have high school; he had to get admission at a nearby village which is 7km from his home.
But Asif’s grandfather loved Asif very much; he was disturbed by his disability. He wanted him to be doing well and getting a good education.
Asif joined 6th grade, but the disability still increased. “I started getting pains,” says Asif.
But with all pains and difficulty, Asif continued his schooling. “When I was in 8th grade I was feeling guilty about my disability. All my friends walk straight and why I’m like this? But still, I took an admission to 9th grade and discontinued my studies.”
As the days passed his grandfather was more worried about my physical condition.
“My grandfather took me to so many temples and mosques to get cured of my fitness. I just can’t remember the number; how many gods and goddess we visited. But all was in vain there was no answer from any gods. I was admitted more than 15 days in a government hospital for my surgery; no doctors were able to examine my disability”.
However, his grandfather was struggling hard to get him operated on.
This was Asif’s story until he met OEI.
“I didn’t have any passion to study until I met Operation Equip India,” says Asif.
Asif’s grandfather met the OEI field staff and introduced him to OEI. He was enrolled in child/youth sponsorship program. He was diagnosed with Rickets that had deformed his knees and elbows. He underwent corrective surgery for his deformity with the assistance of OEI and recuperated through regular therapy and mobility aids. He stayed for more than 6 months at the center.
“I found a new life in Operation Equip India,” says Asif.
“After my recovery I went back to my village and completed by 10th grade.”
“My life was changed; the staff at the project gave me moral support to pursue my education. I was also accommodated in OEI dormitory for easy travel to my college. I took admission for 11th grade. They provided me education’s fees and other educational materials. I travel everyday to the college without anybody’s assistance. I was tutored to score well in my academics.
“OEI was the main platform to explore my hidden talents” explain Asif. “I learnt a lot being at the OEI hostel.”
OEI supported him to join spoken English and computer class to do well on his exams.
Today, Asif is doing BSW II year. Her mother is a Self-Help Group (SHG) member.
“My words cannot express the love and care taken by Operation Equip India staff. I learnt a lot from them.”