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My disability taught me to unlock my potential - My Take by Dhanya Ravi

In My Take this week, we have Dhanya Ravi who wears many hats, that of a writer, columnist, digital marketer, motivational speaker and social worker. Born with a rare genetic disorder called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Ravi is known as India's Glass Woman due to her fragile bones. But make no mistake, this lady has nerves of steel and has been acknowledged as a role model by no less than the government of India.

My family is made up of my parents, an older brother and his family. We are from Kerala and currently settled in Bengaluru. My life journey so far has always been fun, painful, full of learning and adventure.

For most of us, the days of childhood are the best times of our lives. Mine, however, was filled with frequent fractures and long days in hospital due to Osteogenesis Imperfecta-related problems. Until I was a teenager, I would frequently sustain fractures. I believe I have more bone fractures than bones in my body! Things weren't always easy but there were some people and many books that helped me learn from my struggles.

Juggling roles

I was home-tutored by a neighborhood aunty who took the initiative to volunteer and teach me until high school. I completed my graduation from the Indira Gandhi Open University and did an online certificate course from Climber Knowledge and Careers Private Limited.

I volunteered online on Malayalam music and channel forums for almost a year. These forums and the people in those groups helped me to explore the Internet. I had the opportunity to network with a few people across the globe as well. It was in early 2012 that I started to work as a data entry clerk for Trainingtree.com. Gradually with God's grace, I started to get opportunities in jobs that I really prefer. Presently I am a freelance writer, digital marketer and columnist.

I love reading, watching movies and listening to music during my free time. I am also a social evangelist and I share my life experiences on social media. I have spoken at various platforms like TEDx, private establishments and educational institutions. Through such presentations, I hope to build an empowered and inclusive India. I hope to help create a generation free of rare diseases.

Tryst with social work

I was instrumental in the formation of an NGO named Amrithavarshini Charitable Society based out of Kerala. I was an active member of the NGO for over 10 years. This NGO was like a learning establishment for me where I was able to connect with people with similar health conditions. Apart from positive socialization, it encouraged me to learn from others experiences.

I am active in mobilization and sensitization programs for OI and rare diseases, both in a personal capacity as well as in partnership with NGOs. I want to bring awareness to India about disability concerns and rare diseases. This is vital because that is where all the action starts towards inclusion. I also worked on a few empowerment projects along with NGO One Step at a Time (NGO) and on a rare diseases marathon campaign.

I do not have a role model. I believe that one must follow their natural qualities despite your limitations. Try and learn from mistakes. You can create an identity of your own. I have a strong family support system that stands with me through thick and thin. I am incredibly lucky to have some beautiful mentors in my life who have always prioritized on how adequately I can learn things in life.

I believe that everyone has to struggle to achieve their dreams or find a purpose in whatever stream they are involved with. In my case, it was definitely hard especially during my childhood days since I have encountered a lot of medical issues and bone fractures. But I believe that it is all about how we see the world. I'm a very content person now.

The life of a butterfly and its four stages has always amazed me. In the third stage, they set themselves free when they complete the journey as a caterpillar. Similarly, at some point, we need to look out on what we are working on and what we can do to make it victorious. It's my disability that taught me to unlock the potential of my ability.

We all need to learn to count our blessings and not problems. It is also important to make meaningful relationships and indulge in conversations with friends and family. Trust me, it will create magic. The time you spend for your loved ones and for yourself matters a lot.

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