“I want to make Hyderabad a 100 per cent accessibility-friendly place for the psychically disabled,” says 42-year-old Narsing Rao Bongurala, who has always been confined to a wheelchair. Narsing had established a NGO called Wonder on Wheels (WoW) in 2014 with a singular objective — fight for the rights of the physically challenged and sensitise society on the long-standing accessibility issue.
“Every time I venture out of my house, I’m worried that I will be stranded,” he says. “I have constantly faced this issue in most of places in the city, including offices, movie theatres and even malls. Sadly, I can't even go to a temple to worship,” he laments. He thus felt a strong need to address the issue.
Since the last eight months Narsing and a set of volunteers have been trying to create awareness about the issue. “These are still small steps towards solving the bigger problem. We have a long way to go before we can achieve this dream,” he says.
A web designer for several software companies in the city, the struggles Narsing endured to reach this juncture is not something he will ever forget, he says. “I started my career by running a public telephone booth that the then government had granted as part of a welfare programme. I used to earn Rs 1 back then,” he recalls.
A chance encounter with a journalist who gave him his first computer and the wise advice to learn certain software helped change his fortune. “I quickly learnt Ms Office by myself and began to make copies for him. He would pay me `12 back then,” he adds with a smile.
His younger brother, Vinod Kumar Bongurala, a computer engineer, went out of his way, learnt a page-making software and taught his brother the basics. “I picked up from there and mastered it,” he says proudly. Since then, he has designed and composed for over 50 books including those for prominent writers like V.V.L. Narashima Rao and K. Madhav Rao.
“The amount of love and support people have shown me is very heart warming,” he says. He is currently learning more recent software including Word Press, Drupal and Joomla.
His life has been nothing less than a roller-coaster ride, he says. “From running a PCO booth for a rupee to dealing with clients across the globe, a lot can happen in life if we stay positive,” he says, adding, “It’s not our disabilities, but our abilities that count.”...