Nishant, from Sullia, Dakshina Kannada, has started dreaming again. After an accident that left him with a spinal cord injury, “I was confined to bed for two years. It was painful to see my parents skip programmes and festivals in order to take care me,” he says. He then enrolled himself to Seva Dhama, and he now nurses an ambition to become a wheelchair motivator. His greatest strength? Getting back his independence. Tree climbers, farmers, construction workers among others in the hinterland who survive the fall with a spinal cord injury, eventually suffer a painful death. And the rehabilitation centre Seva Dhama in Southadka in Belthangady taluk in Dakshina Kannada has emerged as a hope for them and their families.
Seva Dhama, which celebrated its first anniversary recently, has already been hailed as a model centre among the four spinal cord injury rehabilitation centres operating across the state. It’s the brainchild of Vinayak Rao from Kanyadi, who himself is a wheelchair user. In 1996, Vinayak, 26, was electrocuted and paralysed waist-down due to the injury to his spinal cord. Within a few years of the accident, he got rid of his self-pity and launched Seva Bharathi in 2004 with an objective to transform his village into a model village, and help those in distress. In 2017, he enrolled for a 21-day course conducted by the rehabilitation unit of Christian Medical College (CMC) in Vellore for persons with spinal cord injury. Impressed with the centre’s initiatives to enhance the quality of life, he decided to mainstream bedridden people by launching a similar centre in Dakshina Kannada. It became a reality when The Association of People Disability India (APD) partnered with Seva Dhama.
Southadka Shri Mahaganapathi Temple committee magnanimously waived off their rent while permitting Seva Dhama to use the ground floor of the temple’s guest house as a rehabilitation centre for the next three years. Dr Senthil N S Kumar, serving as director (technical) in APD, says many persons with spinal cord injuries die without being rehabilitated. Without insurance, the hospital can’t offer help beyond a certain point.