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Rare bone disease has not stopped Sirisha from leading an independent life

Born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta or OI, a rare genetic disorder, Sirisha KV struggled as a child in the absence of a proper diagnosis. Today as an independent working woman, she seeks to show the world that disability need not be a barrier to becoming a self-reliant person.

Living with Osteogenesis Imperfecta or Brittle Bone Disease, cannot be easy but Sirisha K V's smiling face shows no signs of the toll coping with it has taken. Much of the secret to her incredible strength and positivity lies in the way she was raised. Her parents have never let her feel less than anyone else and raised her with much love and affection.

The world at large saw their daughter as weak, dependent person and advised Sirisha's parents against educating her. But her parents ensured she received a good education at home and later when the time was right, enrolled her in a good school.

Many family friends and relatives would tell my parents that it is useless to educate me as I would be of no use to them in future due to my limited physical abilities. The attitude of the society is disheartening and the narrow mindedness harms the prospects of people with disabilities. - Sirisha K V

The education made her aware of the world around her and instilled in her a desire to be a part of the mainstream. She grew up to gain immense confidence in her own abilities and potential. No wonder Sirisha is recognised as an OI warrior and her achievements have been crowned by various awards including the national award in the Best Employment category given conferred by President Ramnath Kovind. She also received the National Award for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities in 2017.

Given the struggle and despair they faced in the early years for want of proper diagnosis, Sirisha's father is proud of her. His dream of seeing her an independent woman has finally been fulfilled. "I am very happy the way Sirisha has created a life for herself", says a proud S Vijaya Kumar. "I always encouraged her to be independent and confident about her life choices. It has not been an easy journey for us as parents and for our daughter, but she has emerged shining after years of struggles".

After her MBA, Sirisha first worked as a data entry operator. Today she is with ANZ Bank where she believes she has found her calling. "The office space is extremely accessible and exclusive caretakers have been provided for the disabled staff members to be cared for during work hours. I feel that if such steps are taken by other firms more disabled people will come out to work as there is a lot of talent in disabled community and is untapped due to lack of accessibility."

Sirisha's job not only gives her financial freedom, it also gives her an opportunity to build awareness in society, to change attitudes towards disability and disabled people. "I want to improve my personal career and look out to help people who have rare disabilities. I want to do everything that I can in my life without the fear of barriers and societal judgments."

Sirisha lives alone in Bengaluru and has a helper for day to day tasks. Her determination to be self-reliant is inspiring says former colleague and friend Vijay Manjunath. "She is always very positive and proactive around the workplace. Her life has been extremely challenging yet she has faced the struggles and found success in her career".

Few would argue with those words.

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