Lone soldier who won battles for many!

Bharati Pawaskar | JULY 18, 2023, 12:20 AM IST
Lone soldier who won battles for many!


At 50, the self-employed certified investment consultant for more than two decades shows no signs of slowing down. Besides his successful commercial venture, where he manages around Rs 90 crore worth of assets for his 150 plus clients, Avelino de Sa is a crusader for those who live with a disability. Through his role as the President of Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG), he has been a role model for others, not only in Goa but across the nation as well.

Avelino, a person with cerebral palsy, wears many hats and shoulders multiple responsibilities. He is widely popular among persons with disabilities (PwDs) due to his helpful nature. A member of the Crusaders for Jesus with Mary and the YMCA Panaji, Avelino is also associated with the local level (North Goa) Committee of the National Trust of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities. His brainchild DRAG will be completing 20 years in October this year.

Avelino has received awards and trophies for his various achievements. He bagged National ADAPT award for activism in 2015. Avelino has also been featured in Better India. He was declared one among top 50 modern day heroes in 2014. He is also featured in a book by National Handicap Foundation, Ministry of Social Justice, ‘Yes, We Can’ and is one in 100 successful entrepreneurs with disability.

Counting DRAG’s successful missions, he shares, “We have been successful in getting a lift installed at the heritage building Maquinez Palace at old GMC complex. DRAG also organised a Disability Film Festival. We have also been instrumental to start wheelchair accessible e-rickshaws in Panaji and Margao. One more will be started next month in August in Mapusa. These are available for PwDs who wish to travel out of their homes. Albeit, there is a fee, Rs 50 for first five km and Rs 100 for 10 km which I think, is reasonable.”

DRAG gets cases where qualified people have been denied promotions or employment because of a disability. DRAG was instrumental in Kadamba Transport Corporation buying two wheelchair accessible buses. It informs builders, colleges, schools about wheelchair friendly architecture. However, many temples, churches and mosques are still not accessible to the disabled, laments Avelino.

DRAG also has been working on having nominations in Panchayat for PwDs, and the process is in progress. After the Purple Fest organised in Panaji, there is awareness happening in various sections of the society, which is very heart-warming. Still some issues need to be resolved. DRAG has been demanding a lift at Institute Menezes Braganza for the past 10 years, informs Avelino.

Avelino recalls how he wanted to be a chartered accountant like his father late CN de Sa, but the exam was in Mumbai and there were no coaching classes in Goa, so he chose to be an investment consultant. His mother Yvette de Sa is a retired tax consultant. Good at managing money, over the years his advice has helped many to invest in the right assets and avail benefits.


Avelino explains, “The 1995 Disability Act was not implemented till 2003, because there was not much pressure on the government from disability activists. DRAG was found as an advocacy group of persons with disabilities to create pressure on the government.”

The State and the Central government have various schemes for the disabled – including scholarships, stipends, education free-ships, etc. There is no specific medical aid, however there’s reservation in government jobs. 

“We studied these and tried to fight for our rights. The fight is still on. We have won on many fronts, and there’s yet a lot more to achieve. I remember my activist friend late Javed Abidi with whom I worked on all India basis to fight for disability rights. He is no more but the seed of fighting that he sowed in me is still growing strong,” says Avelino.

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