Geeta's Story - My life in Raphael

I was born with polio, unable to walk and four years old when my parents left me at Raphael in 1972. It was to become my home forever.

I joined the Little White House (LWH) where there were about 70 children and started attending the primary school on campus. During that time a lot of overseas volunteers used to come and help us with our studies and play with us. They used to help me do exercises and would take me to school in a wheelchair.

One day I was told that I would be going to Delhi for further treatment. General Bakhshi – Uncle Bakhshi to all of us - was the Director at the time and he had decided to send me to Tirath Ram Orthopaedic Hospital, New Delhi for corrective surgery. I went to Delhi with Mrs E Buxton and was left in the care of Dr Kohli. The doctors advised callipers for me and the hospital staff trained me to walk with their help. It was very painful initially but with persistence and physiotherapy I was able to walk by myself. I was there for nearly eight months and returned to Raphael in 1973.

I re-joined the school and completed my primary education. Then I went to the Church of Northern India school, Dehradun to continue my education. I was put in the hostel as it was difficult for me to commute every day. I made a lot of friends in the school. They helped me in my daily chores. During the vacations and festivals, I would return to Raphael - my family, my home. In 1985, my parents suddenly arrived at Raphael and I was very excited to see them after so many years. I thought they had come to take me home. They promised that they would come and see me when I finished my school leaving examinations in 1987 but sadly that was it.

At Raphael I was made responsible for looking after the younger children in LWH and helping them with their studies. Uncle Bakhshi got me a tricycle and enrolled me in a typing class so that I could learn to type in English and Hindi. I also did a basic course in computers. In 1995, I was given the opportunity to work in the Raphael office as an assistant to the Liaison Officer.

In 2012, I received the Disabled Employee of the year award by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in recognition of my services to the institution. It was a proud moment for me.

In 2015, Sumati, my friend and childhood companion, and I were shifted to Martyn Cottage, an independent cottage on campus where we each had a room to ourselves. I do all my own household chores and it gives me a sense of independence.

I will remain ever grateful to Uncle Bakhshi for his kindness and consideration. I would also like to thank Ms Priyo Lall for motivating me and pushing me to learn. It was she who arranged for a disability scooter for me which has made my life so much easier.

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End Mohini Road, Trans Rispana Nadi, Dehradun, 248001. Uttarakhand, India.