A visit to Jaipur when I was young changed me greatly. I saw my cousin brother struggling with spinal muscle atrophy, a genetic disorder that left him unable to walk. He underwent multiple excruciating surgeries before he turned 21 and to this day can’t walk.
Still, he has great resilience and bravery. When he visited me in New Jersey he once told me, “When I come to the US, life is so different. Here people with disabilities have so many opportunities.” As a child, I know that he wanted to play sports and the inability to participate in games left him terribly lonely and isolated. It was heartbreaking for me to see my cousin suffer.
Separately, I was also struck by the fact that my cousin was far luckier than some as he had access to good medical care. What do people who are less fortunate do? How do they function?
My cousin is one poignant story, but there are 56.7 million people in the world who live with disabilities. According to the US Census Bureau nearly one in five people have a disability in the United States.
I felt I just couldn’t sit by and do nothing. In 2015, I founded Prosthetics for Change, the first subsidiary of Jaipur Foot USA. We should treat any differently-abled person in the same way we would treat a family member.