A fighter & survivor, Ashla Rani’s life story is truly inspiring & motivating
37 year old Ashla Rani met with an accident almost eight years back which affected her spinal cord. She has been a wheelchair user since then. In spite of the many obstacles, Ashla rose like a phoenix to work for the many others like her who have disabilities. Today, she is an integral part of Trivandrum based Pallium India where she empowers people with disabilities through many programmes.
37 year old Ashla Rani shows how determination and confidence can do wonders in life. A wheelchair user, Ashla who was working as a software engineer met with an accident almost eight years back that left her with a spinal cord injury. Ashla picked up all the broken pieces to start anew. Today, she works closely with paraplegic patients, holds awareness programmes and engages in social service to empower members from the disabled community.
Ashla recollects the fateful day when her life changed forever. She was working with a reputed company in Chennai and was returning back to her home to Kannur in Kerala. During her train journey, Ashla fell from the door of a moving train. A passer-by admitted her to a nearby hospital where Ashla was unconscious for over three days. She was bed ridden for a couple of years and she soon realised that her life had changed.
The first few years were difficult for me because I was someone who was always independent. So to depend on my family for everything was quite upsetting for me. But my mother and sister stood by me throughout. I had to undergo regular physiotherapy sessions. Since I wasn’t working, I couldn’t spend much time in hospitals because the bills were poling up. My hometown was in a small village in Kerala and that made things harder because I could not access any medical facilities-Ashla Rani.
Ashla, who had completed her Masters in Computer Applications decided to pursue her job. Her company allowed her to work from home. “A privilege which they granted me, but I couldn’t pursue it. There was no internet access in my home and I decided to drop my job”, she says.
The next few months were hard for Ashla since she faced many financial constraints. That is when she decided to work towards empowering the hundreds of people like her. From Kannur, she moved to the state capital Trivandrum and started working with Pallium India headed by Rajagopal.
“I loved reading out stories to others. So now I do that to the many people like me at Pallium India. I also do my bit to empower them by coordinating many programmes which has helped me to be empowered as well. I’am able to meet many people with disabilities and they have many stories to share”, she says.
According to Ashla, accessibility is the biggest problem faced by most wheelchair users. “People’s attitude towards disabled people must change. They want us to be inside our homes and never come out. We have equal rights in the society. I wonder what makes people think otherwise?”, asks Ashla.
Apart from the many empowering programmes, Ashla has also been holding counselling sessions. “A disabled person has many limitations. But there are many things we can do as well. So look at the positive side and things that you can achieve regardless of whether you have a disability or not. Look at things that can make your life meaningful and worthy”, she says.
Preetha Thonnakkal, a wheelchair user, has been closely associated with Pallium India. She says, “The one thing that you notice about Ashla is her smile. She patiently hears to other’s problems, a quality rarely seen in today’s times. Her relentless work towards empowering people with disabilities have truly inspired me”.