Having dedicated his life to helping people with disabilities, the belief that ‘the only disability in life is a bad attitude’ has become deeply ingrained in Gurdip Singh Deep.
As chairman of the Chandigarh unit of Cheshire Homes, the doughty crusader is determined to soldier on in his mission of rehabilitating physically challenged young people who have come to the city from all over the country to make a living.
Chesire Homes, an international charitable organisation that was founded in Britain to help young disabled adults through volunteer local communities, today has 24 centres spread across India, one of them being in Sector 21 in the city. Set up in 2002, the residential home currently houses 17 inmates who are provided vocational training and all other amenities to enable them to become self-supporting.
Over the years, Deep, 68, a banker by profession who is also a consultant for several financial companies, has ensured all the home inmates, all of whom are economically disadvantaged, are given an opportunity to become normal members of society by not only being able to lead independent lives financially but also support their families.
“Till now we’ve identified nearly 7,000 physically challenged people in the city through our outreach programmes. We try to provide them assistance as and when required but only take in those who have a minimum 60% disability in our home. We help the residents to acquire a sense of belonging by contributing in any way within their capabilities, to gain confidence and become self-reliant.,” he added.
While sharing his routine, Deep said the members of the organization visit the home regularly to ensure inmates have improved their functional abilities such as mobility and communication skills.
“Besides holding free medical checkup camps, we also pitch in by buying aids and appliances like crutches, wheelchairs and tricycles for those whose can’t afford them.”
What concerns Deep the most is that in India inclusion and accessibility for the disabled remain major problems that require urgent government action.
“Though various projects have been initiated in the private sector to ensure the differently abled can gain access in any building without any trouble through ramps and elevators, government buildings, these facilities are still largely absent at train and bus stations, hospitals and even toilets,” he says.
Asked for how long he would continue to follow his chosen vocation, he laughs and says: “I’m only 68, this is only the beginning!”