[Women Achievers Series] Show your abilities, forget about disabilities: Ganga Chhantyal
Ganga Chhantyal was a healthy child till six months old, but all of sudden her lower body part got paralyzed followed by fever and some strange sickness. Having lived in a remote village in Baglunj district with no access to hospitals, she was taken to local traditional doctors who worsened her condition. As a result, Chhantyal couldn’t walk properly. "My school was two hours walk away from home, and my friends used to tease me for my disability throughout the way and in school," she recalls the childhood days filled with struggle. "I also wished to live life as happy as others but my fate had something else." She feels her life would have been different if she was brought to the capital city for treatment in the right time.
It was a mere history as Chhantyal now thinks that disability is just a state of mind. Today, she is not just a wheelchair basketball player but also a singer. She feels comfortable in her state and is respected as a member of a diverse and productive workforce. People, who used to demean her, appreciate her diversity, which has positively contributed to her both physical and mental health. Her life changed to some extent after the 2015 earthquake, when many differently-able persons stayed together in a camp in Kathmandu.
"I met with many people and realized that they were lagging behind as compared to others. We discussed on starting an organization about indigenous and differently-able women. Subsequently, the organization was established," She recalls the beginning of her venture. She started playing basketball since then. Basketball training is organized every Saturday afternoon in Jawalakhel, where many girls and women like Ganga practice for at least three hours. Under the slogan 'Show your abilities, forget about disabilities,' they take part in various competitions as well. When she was back in village, she never imagined that such sports could even exist.
"Before establishing the organization and working for the differently-able people, I used to feel I was the only one with physical deficiency in the world. I was much worried and hopeless. But I am happy now as I have handled my family and sports well and actively involved with organizational works simultaneously," Ganga shares about her working career. Her service is voluntary but she is satisfied with the accomplishments. She is thinking about making a team, training them and playing in large platforms and competitions, so that a positive message can be disseminated in the society.
"Our society lacks awareness and has a different perception about differently-able people. They usually think we are incapable. The situation can be improved when someone among us reaches to a certain height or makes some major achievement," this is the only thought that haunts Ganga time and again. She feels heartbroken to see some of her friends begging and singing at the roadside to make both ends meet. "Differently able people should be included in every opportunities and programs, and even in planning. The Sustainable Development Goals have aimed to leave no one behind, so people like us shouldn’t be left behind. Without our meaningful participation in development works, SDGs cannot be achieved," Ganga shares, expressing her commitment to fully support SDGs.