The upcoming Purple Fest 2023, India’s first-of-its-kind inclusive fest, will mark the celebration of inclusion as the society accords recognition to the ‘purple ambassadors’ who have toiled on the fringes all this while to rise beyond the barriers. Here is the part 2 of the Know your ‘Purple Ambassadors’ series.
Jeeja Ghosh was born with cerebral palsy, a condition caused by lack of oxygen to the brain either during pregnancy, or at the time of delivery. It may also occur due to trauma to the brain within 2 to 3 years of age. She is a qualified social worker (MSW) from the Delhi School of Social Work, Delhi University. In 2006 she completed her second masters in Disability Studies from Leeds University, UK. Jeeja has been involved in the social sector for more than two decades. She believes in the rights-based approach and dignity of all human beings. She has been a part of the disabled people’s movement and is connected with other disabled rights activists pan India. In 2007 she received the Shri N.D. Diwan Memorial Award for Outstanding Professional Services in Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities by the National Society for Equal Opportunities of the Handicapped (NASEOH), Mumbai. She received the Role Model Award from the Office of the Disability Commissioner, Government of West Bengal, in the year 2009.Jeeja’s interests also lie in writing and creative arts. She has a passion for writing poetry. She acted as a lead supporting character in a film called One Little Finger: Ability in Disability directed by Dr. Rupam Sarmah. A documentary made on her life ‘I am Jeeja’ directed by Swati Chakraborty and produced by PSBT won the National Film Festival award for the best film on social issues in the non-feature film category.
KY Venkatesh is an athlete and a prominent sports personality and has been decorated with various medals and awards. He has a medical condition of dwarfism. He has represented India at the 1st International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships at Berlin in 1994. He also won the 1st International Gold medal for Shot put in Multi Disability Championships held in Sydney, Australia in 1999. A Silver Medal at 4th Israel Open Badminton Championships in 2004. He is the first Indian Athlete to represent our Country at 4th World Dwarf Games – 2005, won 6 medals in Shot Putt, Discuss Throw & Badminton (Singles & Doubles). He played a key role in getting international affiliation from International Dwarf Sports Federation (IDSF), UK. He is also the recipient of Padma Shri Award in 2021, won the Limca People of the Year Award in 2015, Ekalvya Award in 2005 and Kannada Rajostava Award – 2004. He is presently the Hon Secretary for Karnataka Para Badminton Association & Treasurer for Para Badminton Association of India which conduct National Para Badminton Championships, without State or Central Government Financial Support every year.
Kamal Kanth is 28 years old, born and brought up in an interior place Niajpur of Brahmgiri Mandal, Puri District, Odisha. He sustained Spinal Cord Injury at the age of 21, while playing volleyball with his friends. With the injury of T6 level, his body is completely paralysed waist down. He was in depression despite undergoing rehab training. Participating in a wheelchair marathon was the turning point in his life. He is India’s first wheelchair marathon runner. He developed Wheelchair Basketball, Swimming, Rugby, Marathon, Javelin, Discus, Shotput, Athletic teams for Odisha state. He is now employed with a Bangalore based NGO, EnAble India.
Karishma Kannan has an intellectual disability of down syndrome, underwent early intervention at Mathru Mandir, Chennai and developed early learning skills at Srishti Special Academy, Bangalore. She later trained in pre-vocation and Creative Movement Therapy at RASA, Chennai. In 2008, Karishma relocated to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with her family where she learnt to paint and developed the skill. She is a certified yoga teacher from the J-Yoga college of Japan. She also taught yoga for special children. She has now relocated to Bangalore and has set up her own Art Studio and a recreation centre for young adults with down syndrome. Karishma’s journey as the contributing member of the society began in 2011 with her first solo painting exhibition titled – ‘I Can, You Can, We Can’. Since then, she has had 4 solo exhibitions and two auctions, in India and Vietnam and has donated over 160 paintings. Karishma is now a self-advocate and her work has been recognised internationally. Karishma is also the recipient of the ‘World Downs Syndrome International Award’ 2014.
To be continued…