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.
Day thirteen they said, shanti homam they said, your father's soul is on its way they said You did all you could as a family they said How do we learn to live with the void he has left I ask Who do we call when there's that word of advice we need Did we do everything to make him comfortable as he did for us all his life I wonder Who will call me Sunitha in his voice Whom shall I call Appa... He taught us to take on the world with confidence So what if we were the so called weaker sex He was a champion of women and not a person in need was turned away from his doorstep He showed us the value of friendships The joy of shared laughter and sweet secrets It's evident in the way His friends swear by him It's evident in the affection they showered on him To do right by people, no matter what the circumstances And to learn from challenges, indeed rise above them! To keep faith in the power above Plan, organise, preempt and succeed were his mantras You could set the clock by his time Come rain, hail or sunshine Every shirt in his wardrobe lined up like soldiers Meticulous to the T, impeccably turned out in his sharply pressed clothes His presence was the highlight of every occasion The quick wit and great sense of humor drew a laugh from even crusty old men More of a friend to his granddaughters and sons in law Mentor, advisor, buddy and the world's best father to my sister and I He lived by a code that made bigger men salute him Colleagues loved him, he had a kind word for anyone who met him He lived for my mother, lived up to the promise given to his father in law He made her independent, and her happiness came first in his book Other people have envied him for his prowess in the kitchen As for us we used to wait for the Wednesday when he cooked for us He would entertain us for hours with stories of adventures from his youth Each one had a nugget of wisdom in them His values and morals are what we carry forward Our every action a reflection of his teachings It will get easier with time they say At least he didn't suffer too much they say He had a good life they say But as I close my eyes every day These questions repeat themselves in my mind Who will call me Sunitha in his voice Whom shall I call Appa….