Photo Credits: The Goan
Vinita Bicholkar has taken life head-on. A person with 75% cerebral palsy, the 24-year-old became a post-graduate in Counselling Psychology and has joined a job recently. With a bright academic career, Vinita aims to do something extraordinary for society.
Vinita has many challenges but that does not deter her from excelling in whatever she does. She is expressive about her thoughts and emotions. She loves dancing too, as it elevates her mood. She feels wanted with caring parents, and loving friends around. “They are my sunshine,” she quips and adds, “We all must be the sunshine in someone’s life and make others happy.”
With a supportive environment around her along with her hard work, Vinita scored above 80%. Awards followed her – Best Student, Best Performance, Achiever’s Award, and Outstanding Achievement of Person with Disabilities.
“We don’t want to ask for help, but our condition compels us to ask for help. I need physical assistance, to move or to pick up something. I cannot do it on my own. With this, life becomes even more challenging. We (specially abled) want normalcy in your eyes, not special treatment for us,” she speaks from heart.
She is aware that people who help her do things must continue doing it day in and day out for 24 hours and it becomes monotonous for them too. “I know how it feels to ask for help. If you want to survive, you cannot give up. Of course, they are your own people, they will do it for you willingly, but the question keeps haunting me -- why do I have to depend upon them?”
The world is changing, society is transforming too. Awareness about disabilities and how to be inclusive is also spreading fast. “But everybody does not look at us the same way. They feel we are different. But we may have other qualities and can shine like them. We have challenges as we are born with some disability, but for us, that is our normal life. We are an individual and have our own life. But when we are not included as a ‘whole’, it bothers us,” she expresses.
Vinita did her graduation from MES College at Zuarinagar with a major in Psychology and a master's specialisation in Counselling Psychology from Carmel College, Nuvem. Equipped with a PG degree, she is her own counsellor. Very vocal about her challenges, her aspirations and her dreams, Vinita doesn’t believe in giving up.
She shares, “I had to find ways to sustain my life because if God has given me this condition there must be a positive way to look at life. People who look at me as a person and not a person who has a disability are my strengths. Knowing that I need to deal with difficulties, I tell myself – you are not helpless, this is your god-gifted condition and you don’t have to look at it the way people look at it. You should not give up on life."
Friends cheer her up when she achieves some success and boost her morale when she feels low. “It is because of a bunch of amazing people that I could reach here. I wish to inspire others with my own example; how I paved my own path and got ahead in academics. I know the importance of education. Now my studies are over. I want to look at the other aspects of my life,” she says.
Psychology and a few people around her taught her to define life. “I overcame my guilt. I used to ponder if I was responsible for my condition and wondered how to look at life. Psychology completely changed my outlook towards life. I learnt that I am important, beautiful and wanted.”
Whenever Vinita is frustrated or feels choked up, she listens to music. “Music is a solace. Because I cannot live like others, I have created a safe space for myself. I enjoy my own company. I have online friends too. I accept that certain parts of my life are not in my control, so I just go with the flow and learn,” she shares.
Vinita’s words are a message to society -- “Try to be inclusive towards persons with disabilities. We are not the whole of a ‘condition’ but also human beings and it hurts when we are not given appropriate support to grow as a person. Be kind to people around you. It means a lot.
"To those who have disabilities, I want to tell you that you are not supposed to be responsible for the condition you are in. Accept it with grace, live with it joyfully and make the most of it. Don’t look at it as a limitation. These are extra, unique capabilities that everyone is born with. One must show to the world that all have an equal right to live. Dream big, despite all the obstacles; achieve something, do everything that you feel like doing, make yourself happy, prioritise your mental, and emotional health and just be yourself.”