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An update from Karunya

Renee Schreurs

Back in February this year we shared with you our plan to get a new leg for Karunya.

Karunya is 24 years old and a volunteer with CARE Foundation. As a young adult she received help from CARE Foundation to enable her to attend higher education. Karunya’s parents both died when she was young and without CARE Foundation she would not have been able to attend university.

Karunya has only one leg –  a result of the motorbike accident that killed her father. From the age of 13 Karunya has a wooden leg, which was il-fitting and clumsy. This wooden leg caused her extreme pain and was so heavy to walk with Karunya could barely manage 50 meters. Social stigma and practicalities prevented Karunya from finding  job.

In May this year Karunya flew to the Netherlands, the home of My Name is Kumar’s founders Renee and Tim. Thanks to the incredible support of so many of you and the brilliant work of clinic Stel Ortopedie Karunya was able to receive treatment and physiotherapy which replaced her old wooden leg with a brand new prosthetic leg made especially for her.

Karunya spent a month in the Netherlands living with Tim’s parents while she received her treatment. She used this time wisely taking english lessons and even driving lessons (something she was never able to attempt before)!

Now Karunya is back in India she is far more mobile and comfortable. When she walks she has no pain so she is able to enjoy many more activities and has increased independence. Her new prosthetic limb has also had a marked effect on her confidence. She told is that recently she was approached on the street by someone who once knew her and who rudely asked which leg was her false one, as he couldn’t tell the difference. She walked away without saying a word, proud that she felt comfortable to do so. She is even wearing leggings again, a small thing she would not have dared to do before.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Karunya is missing the Netherlands a lot. It was the first time in a long time that she experienced living with a small family, having been an orphan since she was 13 and having always missed her parents a lot. In the Netherlands she loved being taken care of and really feeling loved as parents do, which gave her further confidence. She is very grateful for this experience and looks back to photos and reads her diary from that time often.

Unfortunately, it has remained hard for Karunya to find a permanent job. Misunderstanding and fear can prevent employers from hiring someone with a handicap – a not uncommon problem in India. Nonetheless, Karunya continues to improve her English and is currently writing her exams for her Masters of Commerce. She remains determined to pass her driving test!

Karunya continues to volunteer with CARE Foundation, much to the delight of all the children who love her so much.

Once again, thank you to all of you who supported this life changing process for Karunya. It’s not over yet…

Below are some photos of Karunya's time in the Netherlands.