Conquering disability — The story of Divyanshu Ganatra

Pune: Divyanshu Ganatra lost his eye sight at the age of 19 to Glaucoma. "When something like this happens it is traumatic and you go through all kind of depression and anger. I think like everybody reacts to trauma, my reaction to trauma was no different," he remembers.

Today, Ganatra is the founder of Adventures Beyond Borders Foundation — an organisation that promotes inclusive and outdoor sports for persons with and without disability.

So how did he overcome his disability to become a Information Technology expert, a renowned psychologist and a social entrepreneur?

"When I went for rehab they told me the best I could do was make furniture or become a telephone operator. My question to them in the 90s was that everybody's talking about IT, everyone's talking about computers, why can't I do something with computers? And they said well, you've to accept reality. You are blind, you can't see," says Ganatra.

Undeterred, Ganatra studied computers and built a highly successful career in IT, which spanned over six years. But the need to do something different coupled with a fascination for the human mind prompted him to leave the industry to become a psychologist.

"During this time was when we were starting to program computers to do what the human brain does. You start reading about the human brain, reading up about human dynamics, and I got so fascinated with that part of how our brain works and functions. I was so awestruck and I fell in love. I quit IT and I just wanted to study the brain and that's how I got into mental health, psychology and studying cognitive neuroscience," adds Ganatra.

The love for outdoors, which he developed in his childhood, pushed Ganatra back in adventure sports, some 12-13 years after losing his eyesight. In 2014, he became the first blind, solo paraglider. "The whole world wrote in saying this is amazing, this is inspirational and what I learned through that is that people were writing me off as an exception and that's not what this is about. How can I use adventure sports to help change attitudes. Attitude was the biggest challenge I've always faced. So I decided that this could be one great way of changing people's way of attitude towards persons with disabilities," says Ganatra.

The desire to use sports to bring people with and without disabilities saw his found Adventure Beyond Barriers. Through the non-profit venture, Ganatra and his team continues build empathy and shatter stereotypes.

"There are multiple ways in which you can use your sphere of influence to build an inclusive world. And I believe what this world needs is empathy and for us to celebrate our differences. And that's what I strive to do every single day," concludes Ganatra.

Updated Date: Nov 24, 2017 17:33:29 IST