Bhubaneswar: Hers is no ordinary journey. It is paved with numerous layers of rubble and stones, a few speed breakers and a near-fatal accident, in which she lost her ability to walk.
Though bound to a wheelchair, Bhubaneswar-based Chumki Datta has scripted a success story by running an advertising agency and heading the movement for making the differently-abled economically independent in Odisha for which she was adjudged the Best Employee/Self Employed with Disabilities (female) under the Locomotor Disability category of National Awards for Divyangjan Empowerment 2017.
She recently received the award from President Ramnath Kovind in New Delhi. And she is the only award recipient from Odisha this year.
The accident in 2003, while she was returning to Bhubaneswar from Kolkata, failed to crumble her spirit and enthusiasm towards life. She pursued her dreams of becoming an entrepreneur and started her advertising firm at Khandagiri in Odisha capital. She has been running it on a strong footing since then.
Chumki is also actively involved in livelihood programmes of the Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Department (SSPED), Government of Odisha.
“Some families abandon physically-challenged individuals. In that scenario, financial freedom and self-reliance are vital,” said Chumki, whose agency designs and fabricates vending carts for the SSPED that aids the differently-abled to earn a living.
Her agency is also a part of SSPED’s programme, where the physically challenged are engaged in producing handmade paper, notebooks, files, etc. that are sold to vendors and even exported.
“We are also planning to start a production unit of handmade soaps, in collaboration with the government agency, which will exclusively employ those with physical deformities,” she said.
The event in New Delhi commemorating International Day of Persons with Disabilities was an experience of a lifetime for her. Individuals and institutions were awarded for their exceptional contributions and achievements for empowerment of persons with disabilities in 14 categories.
For Chumki, the photo session with President Kovind was a dream come true as he congratulated and encouraged her to continue the good work.
A firm believer of being in pursuit of your dreams, she said, “In Delhi, I met this woman, who suffered from muscular dystrophy, but could make beautiful paintings using the brush with her mouth. It is inspiring to meet such positive individuals, who time and again prove that nothing is impossible if you set your heart and mind to it.”