A Drive to Live
Wednesday,28 Mar 2018
A former marketing professional, paralyzed neck-down in a car accident on April 1, 2011 with serious injuries to his vertebra, did not give up and strived hard to empower those with disabilities and enable them to overcome their anxieties and limitations and today, Prajith Jaipal, 40, a paraplegic is undertaking a 2,500-km car journey on April 1 to set a strong example and send across an inspiring message to a society which perceives physical paralysis as cul-de-sac.
He is set to take the journey from April 1, 2018, on the seventh anniversary of the accident to start his drive from Kozhikode to New Delhi.
He asserted, “I want to pick up my life from where it stopped. A lot of people suggested that I make the journey around September, when the weather is more favourable. But I was insistent that I wanted to start the journey on that day.”
Jaipal will be driving from Kozhikode in Kerala to Delhi whilst stopping by several states including Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. He hopes to meet PM Narendra Modi when he reaches Delhi.
Elaborating on his long journey, he expressed, “They should all lead a normal life, but many are worried. I believe that if one person changes, if one person makes the effort, the society will change. So I have decided to start with myself. I will be driving in my Celerio car, that has been altered for this purpose. What I also want the government to address is to consider increasing pension given to disabled people. It is now just Rs 1,000.”
He asserted that intends to meet and hold talks with corporate companies and NGOs to convince companies to hire wheelchair users as he stated that public acceptance and employability continues to evade wheelchair users.
He expressed, “My company was not convinced about me joining back. They doubted whether I would be able to work as I used to earlier. They even doubted whether I could work at all. But despite trying to convince them, they were not willing. In a way, I cannot blame the company, since there was not one employee who used a wheelchair. If they had at least one disabled employee, they would have been more receptive and accepting.”
He added, “They have for now allowed me to hold a talk at the company. When I got in touch with companies to fix my schedule, I found that less than 1% of these companies currently employed disabled people. That shows a lot.”
Jaipal has now begun an e-commerce firm with his brother-in-law and also ventured into farming, along with a close friend. He began an initiative called Wheelers Club as well.
However, during his endeavours, he noticed that the society is not disabled friendly when it comes to the infrastructure of the workplaces as well.
His initiative is inspiring for not only people of this country but worldwide as well. By voicing his views and beliefs, Jaipal has thrown light on a very poignant topic. And by creating awareness for the same, many unheard voices are getting a platform to be heard which will also help in trying to make the lives of people living with disabilities better and enable them to gain better opportunities.