Often times, the world is cruel, harsh and brutal to it’s inhabitants. We as humans face great difficulties within our lives. All of us will struggle at one time or another to overcome some kind of burden. Some of us will succeed in overcoming the barriers we face, while others will fail. Throughout the world many people face the bleak reality of living their entire life with some kind of severe handicap. In many instances, their condition will prevent them from doing many of the things they otherwise would passionately pursue. Getting married, having children, traveling, making new friends, and even finding a job can be a struggle for someone with a severe handicap. While those of us who are not handicapped probably will never fully grasp the ramifications of what it is like to live with a handicap, we can all benefit and find inspiration from those handicapped individuals that live happy, productive lives. One such amazing person is S. Ramakrishnan, the founder and president of Amar Seva Sangam. The following is the true story of S. Ramakrishnan’s passionate pursuit to help others in need.
S Ramakrishnan – Life’s cruel Joke
S. Ramakrishnan was born May 6, 1954 in Salem, India. During the early 1970s, S Ramakrishnan joined the Government College of Technology and enrolled in the mechanical engineering program. In 1975, as a fourth year mechanical engineering student, the ambitious Ramakrishnan decided to pursue a career as a Naval Officer, whereupon he soon began the strenuous tests of endurance, strength, and dexterity required of Naval Officer applicants. The dogged Ramakrishnan initially showed great promise and determination during his training activities. Then, one fateful day, during an obstacle-course training session, the young Ramakrishnan slipped, and fell some fifteen feet to ground. Ramakrishnan would later learn that he had suffered a severe cervical spinal cord injury. He would live the remainder of his life paralyzed from the neck down.
Despair, fear, and anxiety haunted Ramakrishnan as he transitioned from his life as a young vibrant naval officer applicant to whatever awaited him in his now unpredictable and vastly challenging future. Ramakrishnan underwent intense rehabilitation and treatment at the military hospital Kirkee in Pune. During his time at Kirkee, Ramakrishnan befriended Air Marshall Dr. Amarjit Singh Chahal, an orthopedic physician. Dr. Amarjit Singh Chahal convinced Ramakrishnan that even though his body was permanently handicapped, his mind was perfectly capable of functioning just as it had before he was injured. Ramakrishnan also attended group sessions with other recently-handicapped patients. Ramakrishnan began to learn that he would have to come to terms with his condition if he was ever going to move on with his life. He dreamed of one day finding success, happiness, and contentment.
Winning over the demons in Mind
Over the next several years, Ramakrishnan found loneliness, isolation, boredom, and the frustration of being confined to a wheelchair almost too much to bear. At one point, Ramakrishnan admits he even contemplated taking his own life as he desperately searched for some sort of soul-nourishing purpose to his existence. Ramakrishnan decided his new purpose in life was to help other people. Soon, Ramakrishnan began reaching out to other disabled individuals, helping them in any way possible.
A new chapter – Amar Seva Sangam
In 1981 Ramakrishnan opened Amar Seva Sangam (named in honor of his friend Dr. Chahal), a school for disabled children. Initially the school operated in a small shed on his family’s property with only five students. A.S.S. provided polio and measles vaccines as well as health-related courses and instruction for people living in rural areas. Over time the organization began to grow in popularity. In 1984 the well known writer, Sivasankari, wrote an expose of the small charitable organization, providing much needed exposure. As support for A.S.S. began to grow, Ramakrishnan purchased a small plot of land to serve as the main campus of A.S.S. In 1992, the successful accountant Shankar Raman (who suffers from muscular dystrophy) joined A.S.S. in hopes of reaching out to those in need. Raman currently serves as secretary of A.S.S. As a successful accountant Raman provides valuable professional guidance and service to the A.S.S. organization.
Impressively, Amar Seva Sangam has become a world leader in assisting disabled persons in need. The organization currently serves thousands of disabled individuals. Currently, A.S.S. provides rehabilitation services to the disabled at their Sivanandha Block. A.S.S. also provides village-based assistance to those who may be too poor or unable to travel to the established A.S.S. facilities.
Life lessons from S Ramakrishnan
When considering the accomplishments of S Ramakrishnan, it is important to remember that the obstacles and challenges we face in life are not meant to stultify our progress as human beings, but rather strengthen our resolve to improve the world as a whole!
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