A Lenasia resident in Johannesburg, South Africa, 55-year-old Sharad Narsai, whose leg was amputated after diabetes complications five years ago, has his life back – he can now walk on “two legs” – and he looks forward to finding a job.
Until recently, Narsai endured very limited mobility, but things turned around for him when he became the first South African beneficiary of an Indian philanthropist’s generosity.
The rejuvenated family man returned from India on Tuesday last week with a new well-fitting artificial leg that enables him to walk unaided.
Energised and full of hope for the future, Narsai spoke to the African News Agency (ANA) a on Christmas Eve.
Back from a three-and-a-half week fully sponsored healthcare stay in India – Narsai said all he wanted to do on the special day was spend quality time with his family.
“Just a small get-together with family going to Rietvlei Zoo Farm and having a braai,” was his modest wish. The farm situated in the south of Johannesburg offers a wide range of recreation, education and family outdoor activities.
Until a month ago Narsai had found it very hard to move around and looking for a job was out of the question. This meant that his wife, Nisha Narsai, has had to not only look after him but be the breadwinner as well.
They have a 21-year-old son, who is studying computer science at the University of Johannesburg.
Just when he was losing hope of ever regaining his dignity by being gainfully employed, Narsai’s luck turned. For five years he couldn’t contemplate looking for a job owing to his disability.
However, he got lucky when he was selected to be the first beneficiary of South Africa’s #OperationRehab, an initiative driven by Indian philanthropist and activist for the disabled, Shree Kanubhai Tailor.
Earlier this year Tailor, who is disabled, announced plans to provide free specialist medical care for poor disabled South Africans.
Tailor said his plan would, initially be to fly the South African disabled patients to India for treatment. He said he would later build facilities in South Africa to assist with the treatment of poor disabled people.
Returning from a 25-day free trip to India, where he received treatment that included a well fitting prosthesis. Narsai said: “I was treated like a king”.
Prosthesis cost about R150,000 and around R62,000 for the socket, which must be replaced every two to four years. These costs are beyond the reach of many, especially the unemployed.
Narsai has not been employed since his leg was amputated five years ago.
But with his newly fitted prosthesis he says he is ready to work and is keenly looking for an office job, preferably in marketing.
“My wife is very happy that I have my prosthesis and now I have to focus on finding a job doing office admin work,” said Narsai.
He couldn’t quite believe that it took the benevolence of another disabled man, who lives more than 8,000 km away, to change his life prospects – something he finds “truly amazing”.
Narsai describes his experience in India as “mind blowing” and believes South Africa has a lot to learn from India’s facilities for disabled people.
“It was mind blowing and completely exceeded my expectations. I have never been treated with such care and respect at healthcare facilities in South Africa,” said Narsai.
“It was truly heart-warming to see how well the centre cares for the disabled children, who are resident there. Many of them were abandoned by their parents because of their disabilities, but at the Disable Welfare Trust they are happy, loved and well educated.”
He said the art teacher at the centre’s school has no arms and paints using his mouth.
A young woman who spent her entire childhood there is now a qualified doctor and still comes back to work with the children, said Narsai.
He said this would not have been possible without the philanthropy of Tailor and his Disable Welfare Trust of India, which has assisted many disabled people in his native India. More than 4,000 children in India have received specialised medical care and education from the trust.
Tailor, intends to replicate this successful model in South Africa, under the banner #OperationRehab – an initiative to offer free and low-cost treatment to disabled people.
The Disable Welfare Trust of India states among its goals the aim to revolutionise the treatment and rehabilitation of disabled patients across South Africa.
There are more than two million people living with disabilities in South Africa and the trust plans for hundreds more beneficiaries flown to India for treatment and the eventual establishment of treatment and rehabilitation centres in South Africa.
Speaking from India Tailor said: “After Mr Narsai’s treatment we are currently treating patients from London and inquiries as far as Belgium is coming through. It means we are doing something correct”.
He said #Operation Rehab is a programme for all South Africans, which is coordinated by SA marketing and media agency Media Revolution.
Tailor invite “all South Africans with disabilities” in need of assistance to contact local coordinator Dharmesh Nagar at Media Revolution www.mediarevolution.co.za
– African News Agency (ANA)