Preeti turns 18 today! She was a bit sad because her family decided not to celebrate her birthday and even refused to give her the tiny amount of money she wanted to buy samosas for her classmates. An 18th birthday is a special one. Had she been born on the other side of the fence, there would have been a big celebration with friends and family and treats and presents. But in her case no one in her family wanted to mark the day. It will be a just like any other day. When her teachers and class mates came to know about this, they decided to surprise her and celebrate. So, without her knowledge plans were made and Saturday was party time.
On the menu samosas of course and Pepsi and sweets. The kids had a ball. They laughed and danced and then laughed some more and danced some more. They gorged themselves on fun. Once again Radha and Preeti proved to us that you can dance even if you cannot walk.
I am sure Preeti will remember her 18th.
It is sad that parents of special children born in underprivileged homes do not realise that these children are just like others, with the same dreams and hopes. Preeti had polio when she was young. This should not have happened but I guess her harried mom must not have given her all the vaccine doses. And to crown it all she was hit by a car and broke her legs. There was no physiotherapy which meant that she also lost her muscles and hence can not be fitted with calipers. Her home is located in a slum and you access it through a tiny, uneven mud road. When it rains or a drain clogs, Preeti is housebound. As she walks on her hands there is no way for her to wade through the filth and reach the main road where our transport picks her up. Some of you may wonder why we have not bought her a wheelchair. To understand you would have to come and see the reality. No wheelchair can reach her home, or any slum home for that matter.
In a civilised and humane society Preeti would have been in a normal school and could have aspired to any profession. She is a very intelligent and smart kid. But in India she could not be mainstreamed and thus never went to school. We have now enrolled her in the Open school and she will soon be sitting for her class X Boards. She is learning English and speaks quite well. We discovered this when she spent time with Andi one of our volunteers. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure she has a bright future.