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Social Inclusion
Published on: July 25, 2020, 5:59 p.m.
Himalaya Fresh Start Foundation empowers people with disabilities
  • The first hesitant steps to a new future

By Sekhar Seshan. Consulting Editor, Business India

She lost both her legs in an accident when she was only 26 years old. Over the next four years, Muniamma (name changed) has spent a lot of money in medical aid and related treatments. It was only in the beginning of this year that they heard through friends about a three-day camp that would be held at Hassan in Karnataka, where prosthetic limbs were provided to amputees from Hassan and the neighbouring areas. She went, got medically examined and fitted with prosthetic legs. “Now I can walk again!” she says with her face lighting up.

The ‘Mega Limb Camp’, organised early this year by the Bengaluru-based Himalaya Drug Company, benefitted around 300 people, says Rajesh Krishnamurthy, the company’s business director, consumer products division. The camp attracted men, women and even children who had either lost their limbs to accidents or gangrene from infected wounds or diabetes. Some of the children had deformed limbs due to polio or birth anomalies.

After doctors examined them, these patients were fitted with new artificial limbs that could help them walk back home from the camp on the same day, after a procedure of three to four hours. At the camp itself, one hopeful says, “I heard about the camp and quickly planned to visit Hassan. I’ve met the doctors here, I am hopeful that I will be able to walk again, help my family financially and be independent.”

The company, which is dedicated to caring for life and has the stated vision of ‘happiness and wellness’, set up Himalaya Fresh Start Foundation in 2019 to enable and empower people with disabilities, in furtherance of its commitment to help differently-abled people discover their potential and lead a dignified, independent life.

The Foundation’s first initiative was a collaboration with Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS), known for the Jaipur Foot, and Rotary International to provide prosthetic limbs to enable people from underprivileged backgrounds.

The Jaipur Foot, which has already enabled some 1.8 million people around the world, allows a below-the-knee amputee to walk, even on uneven ground, run, climb a tree or a mountain, sit cross-legged, crouch, ride a bicycle, drive a car and swim. Typically, these limbs cost anywhere between Rs10,000 and Rs10 lakh – but, as Anil Surana of BMVSS says, having its own manufacturing facility, and the support of organisations like Himalaya Fresh Start Foundation, enables it to serve more people who are in dire need of these fitments.

The Foundation, which is working with BMVSS to impart vocational training to beneficiaries who can then look at having sustainable livelihoods, plans to conduct more such camps in future. The vision, as Krishnamurthy explains, is to continue helping differently-abled and economically challenged people achieve their dreams. “This is yet another step towards making a positive and meaningful impact on society, and it makes Himalaya the brand it is today!”  he adds.

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