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The Gopal family worked together as a team to empower their daughter Vaishnavi who has cerebral palsy

Vaishnavi Gopal, who has cerebral palsy, is an assistant librarian with a renowned school in Dubai. A motivational speaker, Vaishnavi has inspired many people with disabilities to become independent. Her biggest asset is a family that supports her through all ventures.

For Vaishnavi Gopal, nothing is impossible. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was less than three months old, Vaishnavi works as an assistant librarian at the famous Gems Modern Academy School in Dubai, which is also where she completed her school education.

Her determination and confidence is quite inspiring and backed firmly are her parents. This family's journey to empower Vaishnavi is truly motivating.

Vaishnavi's mother Sajitha Gopal says that she used to worry a lot after the diagnosis but her husband Gopal Radhakrishnan was a rock of support and together they looked at ways to empower Vaishnavi.

Vaishnavi, who is also pursuing her tourism studies, is an indpendent professional and Sajitha says she will always be by her daughter.

As a parent, I have never felt that my daughter has a disability. The term disabled creates a mental block in the minds of people. That is how our society has always been. As parents, we started working with Vaishnavi to empower her right from the time she was diagnosed. As a family we stood together and worked as a team. - Sajitha Gopal, Vaishnavi's mother.

Vaishnavi completed class 10 at a regular school and went on to finish the rest of her schooling under the NIOS. She would intern as an assistant librarian at Gems, and school authorities were happy with her performance. They offered her a faculty position. After Vaishnavi, many other disabled students were enrolled as well, hence Vaishnavi is truly a trendsetter. "Her hard work and confidence has inspired many other children. That is precisely the reason why she got employed at the same school", says Sajitha.

Sajitha was working with a special school in Dubai and have been instrumental in forming many parent support groups there under the Indian Consulate.

Sajitha says when it comes to awareness about disability, schools in India and Dubai are poles apart. "Since Dubai has people from across the world, I feel awareness is greater. When we go together for a walk, people look at Vaishnavi like any other person while in India, we are flooded with questions and sympathy". Sajitha believes that every child has a spark inside them which needs to be ignited, and only parents can do that. "Do not every give up on your child and do as much as possible to empower them. Firstly, accept that your child has a disability and move ahead. Stay positive through all odds".

Gopal also says the education system in Dubai is more enabling of children with disabilities. "When she was growing, I realised that Vaishnavi has a lot of untapped potential. Disabled children can do so many things when they are given the right opportunities. Of course, not everyone is the same. Just go an extra mile to spot their talents and accept them for what they are".

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