Polio left him crippled but it did not take away his spirit or his ambitions. Sandeep Kumar still harbours hopes of one day becoming a software engineer. These days, he is looking forward to representing Jharkhand at the Republic day parade in New Delhi in January 2007.
Polio struck Sandeep at a very young age, when he was just over a year old. Despite his disability, he went to school diligently, passing out from the Netarhat Government High School and then from St Joseph High School, Mahuatand. But with money in short supply, college seemed a distant dream for the farmer’s son.
Looking back today, Sandeep looks anything but dejected. “It does not matter much that I dropped a year. To meet my expenses, I started giving tuitions to children. In 2000, I came to Ranchi. I have dreamt of becoming an engineer ever since and my friends and relative suggested that I go in for a Bachelor’s degree in computer application. I wanted to get into a regular course but because I cannot go up and down too much, I opted for a correspondence course from IGNOU. Besides, it is cheaper,” he says.
Today, Sandeep is helping others like him; he works as an office manager at Madur Muskan, an NGO for physically-challenged women and children. “It is because of this organisation that I have got a chance to partake in the Republic Day parade. This will be my first visit to Delhi. I am excited to go there and meet the President. I will tell him to tell the government that what we need is support, not pity or mercy,” he says.
According to Madhur Muskan secretary Sandhya Kumari, “Sandeep is very hardworking and always says ‘If I cannot become a software engineer, I will take a loan and open an institute where the disabled can get computer lessons free of cost’. Seeing his dedication and determination, I feel he will surely succeed and I am always there to support him.”