“Know your strengths & create opportunities for yourself”- My Take by Vasundhara Koppula
31-year-old Vasundhara Koppula is a wheelchair user from Hyderabad. Vasundhara has been working closely with the disabled community for the past many years. She is also a renowned mediaperson. This youngster started her own media company ‘Weave Media’ in the year 2014.
I was born and brought up at Anantapur, a town in Andhra Pradesh. I was affected by polio when I was hardly two years old. My family consisting of my mother and brother are my biggest pillars of strength.
My school days were fun. In fact, my teachers and friends were very supportive. They treated me like a regular child and I never faced any discrimination due to a disability. But accessibility was a problem inside the school campus. I hardly used to drink water because I did not want to use the washroom which was inaccessible. So from morning to evening, I used to stay thirsty.
I completed my post-graduation in journalism. My biggest dream was to become a television anchor. I even moved to Hyderabad to follow my dreams. But only when I stepped into the outer world did I realize that people saw my disability rather than my abilities.
Many hurdles in achieving independence
When I moved to Hyderabad in the year 2010, I wanted to become independent and earn my living. Many people told me that I cannot do it because I’am a wheelchair user. I wanted to prove them all wrong.
I came to the city to find a job that I will love doing. After searching a lot, I realized how people were hesitant to hire a disabled person as television anchor. Some of them even asked me if I can look and act like a person without a disability on-screen. I cannot do that because my body is affected by polio.
Nobody wanted to take a risk. So my dreams never got fulfilled.
Juggling roles with ease
I started working in an advertising company as a content writer. After that I worked with a couple of television channels as a program producer. I was sitting on my wheelchair and working for many hours.
My colleagues were encouraging. But I knew that it was not coming from their hearts. I got very less pay when compared to the others. The discrimination was quite obvious. For most of them, I was like a CSR element. They claimed to have given me an opportunity to work for them because I’am a disabled person. I knew I had the abilities and skills like everyone else.
I quit my job and decided to change career because I do not want people to see me differently.
Launch of Weave Media
I started my own company Weave Media in the year 2014. We are into media services and event management. Today, I have over five employees who work for me. We do events for disabled people and also hosts the blind cricket series. We have been organising the Pride of Hyderabad awards as well.
It has always been difficult to establish myself in the industry. Most of the people think that I’am not dependable due to my disability. So they keep asking how can they trust me and give work. They do not even want to give me an opportunity. It is high time that people change their attitudes towards disabled people.
I am proving myself. No one can tell me what I can or cannot do. Nothing will stop me from chasing my goals and dreams.
I hope to create more opportunities for disabled people. But right now, I’am struggling myself. So when I establish in a better way, I will hire more people from the community. Currently, I’am planning for a business hub for disabled people.
The many recognitions
In 2018, I was awarded the ‘Advantage Woman Award’ from ICICI Bank. The same year, I received the ‘Visisht Seva Puraskaram’ from Andhra Pradesh government. In 2019, I received an award from the Indian National Human Rights Organization.
I also won the title ‘Most Voted Girl of the Nation’ for the Miss Wheelchair India programme in the year 2013.
“Know your strengths and create opportunities for yourself. I have mobility limitations. But I try and do all that I can sitting on my wheelchair. Nothing and no one must stop you”.