Fading eyesight but not the zeal to live: The story of Vineet Saraiwala

What would you do if you were diagnosed with a disorder where you lose your vision continuously? This will get even worse when you find that there is no cure for this disease. What will you do? Most people will accept the fact and give up.

Vineet Saraiwala, an IIM alumnus, has refused to be such a person. He is suffering from the disorder named Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) – a group of rare eye diseases that affect the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of the eye). 

RP makes cells in the retina break down slowly over time, causing vision loss. Despite such odds, he is working tirelessly to help others, thus becoming……….

A ray of hope for others

Saraiwala refused to break down and felt about bringing change for people with disability. Saraiwala thinks back to the advice he had from Venkat Krishnan, one of his seniors at Future Group, who pushed him to take on the problem on a bigger scale. And Saraiwala launched Atypical Advantage with help from his blind investment banker brother Anuj.

Today, he is the proud founder of Atypical Advantage – one of India’s largest inclusive platforms for generating livelihood for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). 

Founded in 2020, Saraiwala’s Atypical Advantage provides a platform for PwDs to earn a living for themselves. To put it simply, the organisation itself describes, “Whether it is a singer looking for a show, a visual artist looking to sell their paintings or freelance/full-time job seekers with a disability looking for a career opportunity, Atypical Advantage bridges the demand and supply side inefficiencies and creates a level playing field.” 

The courage to never bow down, help others and make an impact on the society got imbibed in Vineet for a reason. The reason being, he has his….

Mother by his side

Losing his eyesight was embarrassing for Saraiwala, as he stopped leaving home and refused to meet his friends and relatives. However, with time, Saraiwala realised that it is good to live with reality rather than live in an illusion. 

However, he was not the one suffering alone on this journey, as his mother, too, sacrificed tremendously to help him sail through such difficult times. 

“I can count hundred little sacrifices she made to get our vision back. She took a vow in a temple and gave up eating rice and oranges. Imagine living without rajma and chawal, dosas and idlis, and my favourite poha for ages. My brother and I have given up on all religious superstitions as God has not helped us, but our mother’s trust stands resolute. We often joke with her about this blind faith and tell her to restart her sacrifices,” Saraiwala mentioned in one of his posts. 

Salute to Vineet’s deed

Disability can have a significant impact on a person’s life, both positively and negatively. But conquering difficulties and gaining confidence are important and admirable, which is exactly what Vineet has done. 

It is our highest responsibility as a society to let people with disabilities live the life they deserve. Vineet has taken up this responsibility via his organisation. Till today, the organisation has done over 100 shows and events across India, both online and offline, with clients including Amazon, Barclays, Nestle, HUL, etc.

UPDEED salutes the courage and intention to work for the marginalised group of our society. PwDs do not need the mercy of others but deserve the chance to showcase their skills and earn dignified lives for themselves. 

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