Family of Disabled: A Beacon of Hope for People with Disabilities
As per the last census of India, the total population is 1.23 billion, of which about 2.1 per cent (over 21 million people) suffer from one or the other kind of disability.
Founded in 1992, Family of Disabled (FOD) is a non-profit organisation founded by Dr Rajinder Johar – an occupational therapist with 20 years of experience from King George’s Medical College, Lucknow.
The organisation aims at building and nurturing the capacities of disabled persons to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities and assist them in becoming self-reliant.
Johar was working and enjoying his stint as a therapist. However, his life took a dramatic turn when he was rendered bedridden for life following a gunshot injury to his cervical spine. He became quadriplegic (paralysis of all four limbs).
He was left with two options.
The options of succumbing to his condition and leading a meaningless, dependent life; or starting fresh. He chose the latter, gathered all his force and bounced back with a vengeance.
To put his academic and professional knowledge and vast experience to good use, he set out to rehabilitate people living with disabilities by assessing their pressing needs and introducing programmes to meet them.
After becoming disabled, he could now sympathise and empathise with people at crossroads of various disabilities. He spent ample time planning ways and means of their holistic rehabilitation and emerged with the most unique and exclusive schemes.
Family of Disabled got registered as a public charitable trust.
Starting with a single project in 1992, FOD introduced an array of programs for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) under Johar’s guidance, expertise, and stewardship.
Economic rehabilitation of people with disabilities is at the core of the organisation. FOD has a self-employment program called Apna Rozgaar Scheme under which PwDs living in poor socio-economic conditions are helped to start or expand their petty trades. This program empowers them to become self-sufficient, leading to a life of dignity.
Another significant initiative taken by FOD is sponsoring or assisting students with disabilities in attaining quality education. FOD believes that education is the key to empowerment and inclusion, and it has undertaken this program to ensure that no student with disabilities is left behind due to financial or other constraints.
Apart from these programs, FOD also provides various services, such as medical aid, counseling, and legal assistance to persons with disabilities. It also conducts awareness programs to educate society on disability-related issues and promote inclusion and accessibility.
FOD’s founder, Johar, was a living example of courage, resilience, and determination. Despite his physical limitations, he remained steadfast in his commitment to the cause of disability rehabilitation and worked tirelessly to create a more inclusive and accessible world. His legacy lives on in FOD, which continues to serve and empower persons with disabilities with dedication and compassion.
A combined effort
Preeti Johar, daughter of Rajinder Johar, joined her father in his mission almost 20 years back as soon as she completed school. She used to volunteer her time even during her school days, as her father found it difficult to hire people to work for him then.
Johar introduced his children, Preeti and Pankaj, to volunteering at a very early age. They became the youngest volunteers and started contributing their time after returning home from school.
After completing school, as her father’s health started deteriorating and concern regarding his enormous work bothered her too much, she decided to take the plunge and join him full-time.
Overall, the organisation – “Family of Disabled”- is trying to transform the lives of people with disabilities through its innovative programs and services. Its founder, Johar, was a true visionary who believed that disability is not an obstacle to success but an opportunity to rise above the challenges and achieve greatness.
FOD’s work is a testament to Johar’s vision and continues to inspire and empower people with disabilities to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives.
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