Twenty-eight states, 40 cities and nearly 19,000 kms in just 84 days. Till some time ago, travelling was a distant dream for Arvind Prabhoo, Nishant Khade, Sunil Sancheti and Neenu Kelwan, a small group of physically challenged Mumbaikars.
It wasn’t so because they didn’t have the time or money, but because of inaccessible public transport, sidewalks, lifts — almost everything. Yet, they made it happen, and all their travels were on wheelchairs. The group is now ready with a photo book, Beyond Barriers Incredible India Tour that shares anecdotes and images from their journey across India.
“The idea was to gauge whether India is accessible for the physically challenged,” explains Arvind Prabhoo. So, what was the finding? “Very bad. It’s not just roads or public transport, but even education institutes and government offices that are inaccessible for us, despite the fact that it’s mandatory for them to be barrier-free,” he says.
The book is a collection of photographs from all the places that they visited (with and without barriers) and people, who despite being on a wheelchair didn’t limit their ambitions. “Most people on wheelchairs resort to fate, living inside their houses. Our aim was to inspire them to go out and see the world. It’s only when we mix up with the world that we would be able to get what’s rightfully ours,” he adds.
Prabhoo and his team also wanted to create awareness about disability among people. “When people look at someone on a wheelchair, they think of them to be mentally unsound. We want to change all of this,” he summarises.