Flora Shah was 6 months old when she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy – a condition that led to movement disorders. She could never walk. Over the years, she also faced difficulties using her right hand properly.
Today, the 21-year-old is a proud student at Maharaja Sayajirao University of Vadodra, Gujarat.
A first year student in the Master of Commerce course, Flora completed her Bachelor’s from the same college and she dreams of getting a good job after finishing her studies. She is in this position today because of her hard work and the fact that her parents never lost hope. They made sure she received the kind of education she deserved. Flora too never let her condition come in the way of her aspirations.
“Initially, no one was ready to give me admission in any school because of my condition,” she remembers.
After trying at many places, she was finally admitted at Maharani Girls High School in Vadodra, where she studied till Class 7. Later, she moved to Shree Sayaji High School. In her Class 10 and 12 board exams, Flora secured the first and second positions respectively at the district level. She also received a certificate of recognition and a cheque for Rs. 5,000 from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was the Chief Minister of Gujarat at the time.
Because of difficulty in moving her right hand, Flora’s speed when writing exams was often very slow compared to other students in her class. So she was unable to complete her exam paper sometimes.
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But nothing can deter her spirit to study. She recently received the outstanding student award for her performance in the B.Com final exam. Her teachers and friends also play a huge role in the story of her success.
“My teachers have been very supportive and have always encouraged me to move forward. If such colleges are present all over the world, people like me will never be left behind. Sometimes, when I am unable to go to class, I easily study from home, and my teachers guide me over the phone whenever I have some doubts. My friends too – they are always helpful. They share notes and come over to my place if I need them. They never discriminate against me because of my disability. In fact, they have always considered me an equal. If people at my college were not like this, I would not have been able to reach where I have,” she says.
But more than anyone else, it is her parents who Flora thanks the most.
“My parents have done a lot for me. From school to college, they dedicated their time to make sure that I was able to complete my education,” she says. Her mother is a homemaker and her father owns a shop in the city. From Class 1 to 4, Flora’s mother used to go to school with her, stay there throughout the day, and then bring her back home. Later, she would drop her in the morning and come back to pick her up. Till today, her father carries her to her classroom on many days because some classes take place on the upper floors. He does not care if he has to leave work to do so.
“I want to study hard and get a job because I don’t like being dependent on anyone. I have always dreamed of becoming an independent woman,” she says with a hopeful smile.