Akriti Jamwal. Updated: 12/4/2019 12:00:06 PM We the Women

Sandhya Dhar

It was International Day of Persons with Disabilities, on 3 December, Tuesday. We The Women has brought for you journey of Sandhya Dhar, who has mobility problems and 90% disability in upper limbs; with only right hand functioning. Despite hers, she is passionate to take initiatives for other persons with disability and minimize the challenges they face; she stimulates smiles all around with a smile on her face. That makes her story an interesting read so, read on.
Sandhya is Accountant in Relief and Rehabilitation in Finance Department. She is also founder of Jammu Institute of General Education and Rehabilitation (JIGER) foundation. She has worked for Humanity Welfare Organization for fifteen year now. Now, she is one of the members of advisory board of RPW act for Jammu and Kashmir.
She has worked as an Accounts Assistant in SC /ST /OBC BOARD, looking after National Handicapped Finance and Development component; in the Directorate of Finance Civil Secretariat Jammu; Relief & rehabilitation department, Government of Jammu & Kashmir; worked at Power Development Corporation Jammu CID wing.
All her achievements despite being a person with disabilities makes one wonder about her journey and everything that makes her who she is- a source of inspiration and a stimulation to those who have met with a mental block and cannot find a way forth. Here’s her story.
Born to Santosh and Maharaj Krishan Dhar, in the late winter of Srinagar, early in the year 1980, Sandhya is second child with an elder brother, Sanjay Dhar. When she was couple of months old due to high fever she had nervous breakdown due to which her body paralyzed. As per medical reports, given after every possible tests and diagnosis, all her organs were functioning normally. Still the body joints were weak and immovable which made the doctors conclude that hers was a case of cerebral palsy.
It is evident from the growth and strength exhibited by Sandhya that she has even stronger support system. The support system is obviously her family. Despite the heart-wrenching news that any parent could get about their infant, they kept it together and ensured Sandhya had best that they could provide.
Their (her parent’s) first focus was to do anything possible to minimize or reverse the affects completely. Sandhya’s condition was also a challenge for them. Every possible remedy-- the saints, renowned hospitals and rehabilitation centers were consulted. Sandhya was even admitted in Institute of Physically handicapped – IPH, New Delhi for two years, after which she was able to stand up and started walking slowly.
After turning 5, she was admitted to the local school. After finishing primary education in the school, she moved to Jammu with her family, reason being unavailability of rehabilitation centers in Srinagar. Here, she was enrolled in Adarsh Shiksha Niketan where she completed her middle school.
Sandhya had to deal with amplified version of all the challenges any school girl would on one side and was having her physiotherapy and other exercises on the other. Thereafter, she joined M. Dass School for her secondary school.
By this time the realization that her disability could not be reversed had synced in. Her family, especially her mother was aware that education would be her crutches in life that would make her stand on her own and therefore, they took her studies even more seriously than any other parents.
Shandhya’s mother clearly has played a great role in making her comprehend the significance of being independent, despite her disability. Shandhya shares, “My mother took the responsibility of picking and dropping me every single day till I completed my education among other things. I was completely dependent on her from eating to changing and even using the Loo. She has selflessly given away her life for mine.”
When Sandhya was merely a teen with matriculation examination coming her way, she started giving free tutions to those who couldn’t afford it. She reminisces, “Passing class 10th and 12th were a very big achievement for me looking back. My family celebrated with immense joy and pride.”
After completing her school, she joined Government Degree College Parade Ground Jammu and completed B. Com – Bachelors in commerce degree in 2000; even was awarded Best Student Award during the same. After which she pursued Master’s in commerce followed by one year Diploma in Computers as well as MBA Degree.
In 2009 came the great news of getting employed as an Assistant Accountant through J&K State Subordinate selection Board in Department of Finance, Government of J&K. She completed the required one year trainings in accounting through J&K government in 2010.
Meanwhile she was not only educating underprivileged kids but also assisting those with disabilities to go through the formalities and get disability benefits. This intent is what later took form of JIGER where both disable and underprivileged kids study together in guidance of teachers with disabilities as well. This helps all the parties to understand each other and study in inclusive environment and gain confidence.
JIGER also work towards ‘Wheel-chair’ donation; celebrates World Disability Day every year and awareness of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act and its framing for Jammu and Kashmir.
Life is not easy for any but for any person with disabilities it could be unimaginably harder- not something most of us could even comprehend. Even the small task could stand in front like gigantic mountains that one has to summit. But such people not only have to make up for what they lack but also for what we lack as a society.
Growing up and even today underestimation and discrimination; stereotypical remarks of society, even those draped in empathy ; lack of access be it Transport, Library and other facilities due to absence of proper infrastructure were other major challenges Sandhya had to face.
Even today she stresses on inclusivity and accessibility for the persons with disabilities in our system. She acknowledges the new settlements-Malls and other shopping complex being Disability friendly but also wishes that such sensitization towards the persons with disabilities to speed up many folds.
Sandhya has not married by choice as she believes that she cannot take up anybody else’s responsibly. But despite that she has taken up the responsibility of the child (whom she adores) of her younger brother (also adopted) Arjun, who takes care of Sandhya. She understands her dependence but also acknowledges her individuality and purpose of her life.
It is evident that life hits harder to those who are more vulnerable. Talking about the women with disabilities Sandhya reveals that the society has biases even there; the prejudices run even deeper. These women are more prone to crime against women. That is why according to Sandhya it is especially important to protect and sustain women with disabilities.
Sandhya’s word for women out there is- “Instill confidence in yourself. We women are not cattle or commodities. We have to realize our value, protect and preserve our dignity and make it a choice to be treated no less than anyone else.”
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