Walking with his wife, kids, friends new and old, Prabirda paid no heed to his crutch as he chatted cheerfully with everyone around. The absence of his left leg didn’t make any difference or give him an added advantage. All of us clapped our hands and participated in the Walk for Paralympics along with a hundred others. My interaction with Prabirda, a para athlete who champions in long jump and has won silver in Para Asian Games is just one of the thousand interactions all of us have with one another.
‘To make social issues inclusive and intersectional, like disability is not related with sports, LGBT is not related with disability, child rights is an entirely different sector, healthcare is also like that. To talk about all this, we need to link them at various intersections, more like what happens in the nervous system,’ says Shuvojit Moulick, Founder of Civilian Welfare Foundation, an NGO that organises the Walk of Paralympics in Kolkata.
Founded in 2011, the NGO has been working on raising awareness regarding Paralympics sports and helping the Indian Paralympic athletes to overcome the various socio-economic struggles they face. ‘CWF was made to talk about this nervous system and networking,’ he adds.
The Walk for Paralympics is a signature event hosted by CWF and the NGO takes pride in it being the one and only walk to raise awareness of Paralympics in this world. Date of the Walk is fixed. 28th of August is the date on which the walk is held every year. Weekday or a weekend, the walk must be carried out on the buzzing streets of Southern Kolkata, one of the populated areas of the city. Themes change every year depending on the needs of the time. What remains the same is the spirit of the Walk where people from various categories walk together.
For around 3 kilometres, people walk, with two legs or one, on wheel chair or crutch as one category: human beings. That’s what makes it special in its grandeur of inclusivity. From supporting some of Bengal’s well known Para-athletes like Saheb Hussain, Prabir Sarkar and others to organizing Para-football games (Manoball 2015, Udaan 2016), CWF has been actively involved in creating a healthy environment for Paralympics in India. Eminent sports personalities, media personalities and social activists too have extended their help to the organization for the cause.
(Source: Civilian Welfare Foundation Facebook Page)
This year-round work done by CWF in supporting the Para-athletes, sums down to this one particular day of 28th of August where each and every one, members of CWF, volunteers and even random strangers walk with differently-abled people sharing their lives and moments with them. Deepa Malik, who has received Arjuna Award for her outstanding performance in the Paralympic games, RJ Mir of Radio Mirchi, social activist Shampa Sengupta among others have promoted this walk in the past.
This year, CWF will be hosting its 5th edition of the Walk for Paralympics on 28th of August. The Walk will start at 2pm from Golpark (right in front of the entrance of the Rabindra Sarobar Lake beside Ramakrishna Mission) and will proceed towards Hazra crossing via Southern Avenue and Rashbehari. The theme of this year’s walk is, Awareness of Rio 2016. People are free to join in whenever and wherever they can. One can also call at +91-8961152946 / 9038097667 for any query regarding the event.
‘It’s great to see all of you beside us, you are there for us always. It’s a happy feeling,’ says Saheb Hussain, a Para athlete who has won 28 gold, 17 silver and 34 bronze medals in national and international Paralympics Games.
(Source : Civilian Welfare Foundation Facebook Page)
Keeping all the medical aid and facilities of ambulances, the walk runs on this feeling of togetherness, this feeling of belonging to one big family. Somewhere among the hundreds of participants, one finds an old woman, walking holding a poster. A cut-out from a newspaper featuring her son’s interview is pasted there. That’s how it happens. That’s how we walk. Shuvojit, the founder of CWF lives in Sweden as his aging mother bears his interview, his picture in a poster and walks along with us realizing his vision. Somewhere, the pain of missing her son who lives miles away from her gets dissolved in the cheerful melody evolving from the walk.
We aren’t alone. The joy of the Para athletes, their active participation from all over India gives us the courage to fight our daily struggles, be it missing our dear ones or taking that long jump with a high risk. Somewhere in the words, Walk for Paralympics, ‘humanism’ brushes its soothing colours making us believe that we can be lonely but we are never alone.
Article by : Aparajita Dutt