At just 15 years of age, Anoushka Aggarwal is inspired. Spending 10 days of her Spring break with Dr. Devendra Raj Mehta of Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS), the world’s largest limb fitting society based in India, she witnessed lives being instantly changed.
Though having volunteered earlier with NGOs as Make a Wish Foundation and Neenah, witnessing such transformation has been an experience like none other says Anoushka, the young American School of Dubai (ASD) student. While at the centre, she learnt from Dr. Mehta that in about 50 years since its inception, this rehabilitation centre in Jaipur has assisted over 1.55 million physically challenged individuals by providing world-class artificial limbs, rehabilitation aids and other appliances at no cost through Jaipur Foot.
In an interview with Saffron – the Society Insider, Dr. Mehta a graduate of the Sloan School of Management at MIT in the United States, and head of the Jaipur Foot team, says, “The minute you start instituting a charge for your service, the most vulnerable populations are the first sector of the society to be marginalized, and it’s precisely this sector of society we wish to serve the most.”
Sentiment and Science
He immediately points out that their $45 ultramodern prosthetic is simply unmatched when compared to a similar $12,000 limb produced in the United States. “The beauty of the Jaipur Foot is its lightness and mobility, as those who wear it can run, climb trees and pedal bicycles. Their knee replacement developed in cooperation with Stanford University costs a mere $20.”
That’s quite an achievement. He adds, “Too often the NGO sector relies solely on sentiment. We need to marry sentiment with science. The Jaipur Knee is made of self-lubricating, oil-filled nylon and is both flexible and stable, even on irregular terrain.”
As a non-profit social enterprise staffing 22 centers across India and servicing 65,000 patients each year, Jaipur Footprint
Jaipur Foot is a global leader in prosthetic science, production and manufacturing. “You will find the Jaipur footprint in the most difficult places on Earth,” asserted Dr. Mehta. “Those are the places that need the most help, and urgently. Today there are mobile clinics setup in 26 countries around the world, including the war torn regions of Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan. Talking of coming to the Middle East, Dr. Mehta said, “We have signed a MoU with Qatar and soon we will have a centre there too.”
Speaking to him, you get a simple understanding that doing good to others seems to be his religion. “We wish to restore and advance the human dignity and self-respect of those we serve,” stated Dr. Mehta.
Anoushka cannot be thankful enough to her grandmother who directed her to Jaipur Foot. From her rendezvous at the centre she has come to realize the human capacity of a single individual when focused and directed towards a particular goal.
On their Feet
“Spending time with Dr. Mehta and the patients has helped me realize how privileged I am, what poverty is, and how we can make an effective difference in so many peoples’ lives by helping them truly stand on their feet,” she empathises. She witnessed five-year-old crippled with Polio and 65-year-old without arms and legs dragging themselves across the floor to 15-year-old on crutches, having lost her leg to cancer. Learning of their despair, helplessness, and yearning for living life for the better, has made a dent at an impressionable age Anoushka is today.
Walk the Talk
With this new perspective and appreciating the value of life, she hopes to lend compassion and emotional support to the cause. She plans to raise awareness amongst her school’s student body and her peers as well. “I have expressed to my principal at school (ASD), Dr. Steven Leever to spread awareness about this unique project for which he has immensely encouraged me and promised complete support.”
For a young girl whose role model is someone who learns from mistakes, radiates positivity and spreads happiness to those around, Anoushka is striving to live by her inspiration. “I already have 20 signatories from my school (ASD)who will join me to Jaipur to volunteer at the BMVSS centre and experience how Jaipur Foot is turning people’s lives for the better.”
And taking inspiration from Dr. Mehta, Anoushka has decided that while still on her choice of path to pursue Medicine as a career option, today she wants to be instrumental in creating awareness about Jaipur Foot, because it matters to her!
QUOTES FROM FEW OF THE SIGNATORIES AT ASD
Eujean Cha,”There are many people with disabilities that we just don’t know of, who need prosthetics to lead their lives. I believe that the American School of Dubai is capable of bringing students together that can potentially help those in need in Jaipur.”
Adi Sethi, “I believe Jaipur Foot is an amazing organization that provides free prosthetics to those who cannot afford it. Thus I think this will be perfect for ASD service as it promotes values and gives back to the community.”
Arman Sadighian, “The club that has been initiated by Anoushka is great as it will get students together to create awareness for those in need.”
Saanika Kumar, “It’s a unique idea and I support the initiative. I know that bringing this to the ASD community will help more people in getting them the much needed prosthetics.”
Amina Al Masri, “I think Jaipur Foot is a great idea. Having a support community and raising awareness so that we do not have this social taboo is truly amazing.”
Yasmeen Maqbool, an all-time softie is the Features Editor of Filmfare ME, Salt ‘n’ Peppa and Femina ME. Her passion lies in telling stories about people who do what they do because it matters.
Photo Credit: Anoushka Aggarwal