Padma H. Reichwald
The year was 1979; I was listening to a Hindi music program on WKCR (Columbia University Station). Suddenly I heard an announcement for a dance Program at Manhattan School of Music to raise funds for Heart and
Hand for the Handicapped (HHH). This announcement went on to say that the funds raised at this event will go towards helping handicapped children all over India to realize a life of self-reliance and dignity.
Being a Desi disabled woman, I immediately connected with this message. I realized that this was my calling to give back to my disabled brethren, who are left in solitude, neglected and forgotten. How lonely that
must feel! So I joined HHH as an executive committee member in 1980.
Few years later in 1985, I left HHH. Although I was not an active member for these years but my heart was always with HHH.I came back in 1999 and decided to launch Polio Initiative as one of the fundraising
project to support other victims of polio like myself.
In 2003 I met Maya and the following year Anil Dadheech, both Desi & disabled. To my amazement I realized that in all these years, HHH had only one disabled member and that was me. Now there were 3 of us who were
actively engaged in HHH's mission to support other “Differently Abled” children like ourselves. It is my hope that our involvement and presence in HHH will help non-disabled members understand that our mission is
the same as theirs! We are No Different! We don’t always have to be taken care of. We can also support others like us.
Its 2022, as I reflect on the years gone by, I ask myself, why after 40 plus years am I still here!
The answer is very simple. To know that you have played a tiny role in supporting a handicapped child To realize his/her dream. To help them walk! To help them build a world of their own making! To bring a smile
on their faces! Trust me, that smile on a child’s face is “priceless”. As long I have breathe and strength left in me, I will continue on this journey with “HHH” …….! Rest is in God’s Hands!