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Archana Palahalli believes in facing odds with a smile

Archana Palahalli, founder of NGO Indian Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation was diagnosed with a disability in childhood. She has completed her studies to follow her passion and make her dreams a reality.

Archana Palahalli, who was diagnosed with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) as a kid, ensured that a disability does not come in her path in choosing her favourite career and then start an organisation for others who have her same disability. Archana's journey is all about determination, passion and never giving up in life.

Her NGO Indian Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation (IOIF) which was formed in 2018 aims to empower more people with the disability. Archana is busy building up her NGO and reaching out to more people.

Archana, who was born and raised in Bengaluru, completed her post-graduation to pursue a career as Montessori teacher. She stared a Montessori school in 1996 purely to chase her passion. But the school had to shut down owing to many reasons. Currently, Archana works as a consultant for Montessori schools and also helps children and parents make materials for schools.

My parents have always been very protective about me. So they did not want me to go for nine to five jobs because I would be away from them and also for safety reasons. The immense support of my parents and siblings has helped me to achieve many things in life. They stayed with me through thick and thin. -Archana Palahalli

IOIF was started by Archana with the help of Vijay Sonu who also has the disability and Dr Prasanth. Archana says that they have clear objectives for starting the NGO, and they have also started working full-fledged towards it. Their prime focus for now is to create a database of people who have OI in India. Secondly, there are many doctors who want to work towards knowing more about OI. The NGO aims to bring them all together. They also want to help children with the disability that is unable to go to school. IOIF also aims to empower people with OI to work from home to become self-reliant and independent.

"We want to create a better awareness about OI in India. Most of the families do not have the support that needs to be there, says Archana. They also plan to integrate alternate treatment methods for OI, most of which is unknown and not recognised. "There are alternative treatment methods like yoga that really helps people with OI. But most of the people are unaware about it. In western countries, experts emphasise on managing this condition through such methods which are effective, says Archana.

She says that her NGO is also willing to help people with OI from economically backward families who cannot afford treatments. They are working on getting funders and volunteers.

"If I did not have OI, I don't think I would have taken this path. I want to tell people that there is nothing to regret or feel bad about when you have a disability. Take everything as an opportunity and stay positive. I learnt a lot of compassion and empathy which our world today lacks. We need to hold on to the goods and let go off the negatives. There is no obstacle that you cannot beat, says Archana.

Arathi Palahalli, Archana's sister, remembers that she always was a kind-hearted and compassionate person since childhood. Her journey has inspired many people.

"Since I'am her older sister, I have seen how she has grown up to become such a beautiful person. She takes life as it comes and one can always see her smiling. People often complain about things that they do not have in life. But Archana focuses only on what she has, and that is one really remarkable quality about her. She has accepted what has been served in her plate and taken it with a smile, says Arathi.

ALSO READ: Ajay Balachandran defines his identity by finding joy in multiple roles

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