Playing With No Handicap

  • Shilpy Arora / FG
  • India
  • Sep 14, 2012

Sunny Kumar, 8, was born with only one arm and no functional legs. He was forced to beg on the streets of Gurgaon, as the salary of his father was not enough to run the household. For him, studying in a school was a distant dream. However, thanks to Apni Duniya Apna Ashiana (ADAA), his dream has come true. Today, Sunny is one of the most intelligent students in his class, and scores more than 95 per cent marks every year. Studying in the sixth standard, he aspires to be a computer whiz.        

The man who made it possible is an ex-army man, Navin Gulia, who wants to make the streets of Gurgaon free of beggars. With his organisation, ADAA, Navin works for orphans and the physically challenged who have taken to the streets. After spending over 15 years in a wheelchair, Navin smiles when he tells the story of his life. At the age of 22, during his military training at IMA, he met with a serious accident. “I was declared 100 per cent paralysed, and I spent nearly two years in the hospital. But I don’t think it was a major loss. Millions of people suffer in this world, so why not me. This injury has, indeed, given me an opportunity to fight a much bigger battle – giving the underprivileged and needy children a lot of attention and care.” The real battle, according to Navin, is one that must be fought off the field, “against the corruption, and injustice that are prevalent in the society”.

Recipient of the prestigious National Role Model Award for 2006, Navin conceptualised ADAA in 2005. Today, the organisation provides food, shelter, education, and medicines to over 2,000 children who are forced to beg. Through a help centre in DLF Phase I, the organisation offers various facilities like school, library, and activity rooms to the children. They can visit the centre anytime – day or night. ADAA also provides grants to the children living in far-off places like Bharwana and Jhajjar. Navin and over 15 volunteers of ADAA visit nearby villages to help the differently-abled, guiding them in their career choices, taking care of their medical needs and other expenses.

Putting forth the example of Geeta, who lives in Barhana village, Navin says, “As she has an acute case of polio, she could not walk to the school. So, we offered her study material, and all the facilities to pursue her education through distance learning.” Today, Geeta is a graduate, and is looking for a job with the help of ADAA volunteers.

Having lived in the City for 40 years, Navin feels that Gurgaon needs to develop a social character. “You won’t find beggars in Chandigarh and Pune, because the society in these cities doesn’t accept it. People are more sensitised towards issues like begging. However, in our City, scores of children are made to beg on the streets. No one comes forward to help these children, which is a shame. The government doesn’t want to address any issue which cannot give it votes. Unfortunately, these kids don’t have votes. They don’t even have a voice. We as a society, are silent. We turn our faces away.”

Navin has been working hard to generate funds for his organisation. He had successfully launched many campaigns, like a 40-day cross-country road expedition, and “One India Campaign”, to generate funds for ADAA. He has travelled the periphery of India, covering a distance of more than 20,000 km. A motivational speaker and an adventure freak, Navin is also an author of a book, “In Quest of the Last Victory”. He feels his achievements have no meaning if he doesn’t bring about change in the society. “Your ability never restricts you, your thoughts do. If you think you can, you can,” he says – as he dreams of a day when the City would not have a single child asking for alms on the streets. 



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