Despite relying heavily on a wheelchair for moving from one place to another, Shobhika Kalra has helped build a whopping 1,000+ ramps across the United Arab Emirates. In addition to that, this 28-year-old Dubai resident is leaving no stone unturned in a bid to make more places wheelchair accessible.
"As part of this campaign, we’re launching an app Wings of Angelz, named after our social initiative, to build a database of places that urgently require ramps," Kalra told Gulf News.
She also pointed out that they've been doing project-specific work, which has been based primarily on one-off inputs until now. However, they have since decided to kick the initiative up a notch.
It is worth noting that Kalra's actions are backed by her plans. According to this young Indian expat, who has had Friedreich Ataxia for a long time, dealing with challenges is now an inseparable part of her life.
"Despite my condition, I have always believed that hard work pays off. It’s important to believe in yourself and the work you do. Things will eventually fall in place,” she said.
Kalra asked her parents, who lived in Abu Dhabi at the time, to send her to boarding school when her grades fell second place since she was always a topper. “I felt I was too pampered and convinced them I needed a hostel life," she noted.
Her parents finally enlisted her in a school located in Hyderabad, which is a major center for the tech industry in India. However, the future had something else in store for her.
Taking into consideration that Kalra kept losing her balance and faced difficulties walking straight, her mother, Dr. Alka Kalra insisted she got a medical checkup before leaving the comfort of her home. Much to her chagrin, Kalra was diagnosed with her disorder when she was just 13.
She was left with no choice but to drop out of regular school since the classrooms were located on the second floor; however, she was given the permission to continue her education through distance learning program from another institute.
"This helped me regain my confidence," Kalra said.
"I not only finished schooling but also went on to college and earned myself a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s degree in Psychology,” she added.
Her incurable condition was getting worse and as a result, Kalra had to start using a wheelchair when she was 18.
She decided to make the UAE wheelchair accessible following a disconcerting incident back in India when she had to be carried to her seat in a movie hall that did not have ramps. This experience made her realize that there aren't enough ramps in the UAE as well.
In an effort to change the situation, she teamed up with her sister Ruchika. She first began with the pavement situated outside Rashidiya Metro Station which lacked ramps.
She contacted the RTA and informed them about it. Much to her delight, her idea was received quite well and the ramp was built in about a week. Kalra hasn't looked back since.
Image credit: Wings Of Angelz / YouTube screencap