A social worker & entrepreneur, Sooraj is finding ways to empower India’s disabled community
Sooraj PA, 38 years old, met with an accident a few years back after which his spinal cord was permanently damaged. He is a wheelchair user now, but is determined to give his best and also chose social work in his path ahead. Sooraj, who is active amongst India’s disabled community is now finding ways to empower them and make community members independent.
For many people, an unexpected disability in life comes as a shock which takes years to overcome. For Sooraj PA, 38 years old, a fateful accident on 14 July 2012 changed his life forever. His spinal cord was damaged leaving him on a wheelchair for the rest of his life. But he was not ready to give up and decided to gather all broken pieces to start afresh. Today, this youngster is an active social worker who works closely with the disabled community. Apart from making products of his own, Sooraj trains other disabled people to run their own businesses of making paper pens, umbrellas and so on. Originally from Kerala and now based in Delhi, Sooraj is not ready to give up in front of any obstacles.
An unexpected turn in life
Sooraj was born and brought up in Thrissur, a town in Kerala. After completing a B.Com and then Diploma, Sooraj worked for a company in Kerala before deciding to move to Saudi in search for better opportunities. He was on a vacation back home when he met with a car accident on 14 July 2012. Sooraj was driving his car on the highway. He applied his brakes on seeing a man jump in front of the car. But his car overturned and fell into a ditch after which he lost consciousness for a few minutes. When he woke up, he was still lying there. With the help of a few kind-hearted souls, Sooraj was rushed to the hospital after almost an hour of the accident.
He did multiple surgeries, put a steel rod inside and was bed-ridden for months. In the meantime, physiotherapies became an integral part of his life. While doing Ayurveda, he again broke his bone which made things worse for Sooraj.
In two years’ time, Sooraj started walking inside his home with the help of a walker. “It has been eight years since I’ve been on a wheelchair. Life has changed a lot, but my determination to do more things has made me stronger”, he says.
Foray into social work
While sitting on a wheelchair, Sooraj started looking out for ways to empower himself and also get a job. That is when he learnt about making eco-friendly paper pens. He became part of the ‘Handicorp’ team that worked towards giving job opportunities for disabled people. Over past few years, Sooraj has been instrumental in providing training to over 5000 disabled people from across India to start their own businesses.
Sooraj also makes paper pens, umbrellas, paper files and so on. One of his main specialties is making of ‘seed paper’. “All our products are made using recycled paper. There are seeds inside the papers that we use. So once they are thrown out, users can see a plant grow from it”, says Sooraj.
Sooraj wants to learn and grow. So he is also pursuing a law degree from Delhi University. “But due to lockdown and Covid pandemic, my studies have taken a backseat”, he says.
Sooraj is also the Secretary of ‘Voice of Disabled’, an organization that reaches out to disabled people. He is vocal about needs and requirements of India’s disabled community.
Sooraj is currently residing in the national capital Delhi with his wife Soumya. “Right now, my aim is to promote people with disabilities in all spheres and I’am doing my best for it. I don’t believe in sitting back and thinking of my limitations. I want to inspire more people with my actions and deeds”, he signs off.
You can contact Sooraj at +91 95622-80398.
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