Mumbai: Polio-hit couple spend most of their time helping others

Artists and self-taught graphic designers, Deepak and Sudha Jadhav subsist on barely Rs 5,000 a month themselves and teach photo editing and animation courses to children with disabilities

Afflicted by polio as kids, Deepak and Sudha Jadhav understand the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities are taught vocational skills so that they won’t have to depend on anybody else to make a living.

Deepak and Sudha (right) are looking for a place to teach their current batch of eight children. Pic/Suresh KK
Deepak and Sudha (right) are looking for a place to teach their current batch of eight children. Pic/Suresh KK

Thus, despite making barely Rs 5,000 a month as artists and graphic designers, they forgo opportunities to improve their own life and instead teach photo editing and animation software to children with disabilities. They have taught around 50 children since 2009 and say that it makes them proud knowing that the kids are now doing well for themselves.

43-year-old Deepak who lost the use of one his legs as a child says he never considered himself ‘handicapped’ and, even in his teenage years, used to counsel others with disabilities to ensure that they continued looking up and were not depressed or lacked motivation. After one night in 2009, however, he decided to do something more.

Turning point
“I was completing a painting at Worli Seaface when I met Vilas Patankar, the owner of a pharmaceutical company. He saw that I couldn’t use one of my legs and came and spoke to me.

He saw my painting and told me that he really liked my positive attitude towards life. Patankar told me that I should help disabled people stand on their own feet,” said Deepak. “I soon realised that just counselling young students wouldn’t help them in the long run. Hence, the idea of teaching them graphics courses emerged,” he added.

Patankar helped them with the equipment and from 11 am to 4 pm, Jadhav conducts classes for Photoshop, Maya 2D and 3D, Coreldraw, Illustrator and other photo/video editing software. He says he learnt the software from a few friends and by watching videos online and that he works for himself only after 4 pm. His wife and he make a living by designing wedding invitation cards and visiting cards.

Giving them a voice
Deepak has also been teaching some of his deaf students to communicate in a manner understandable to everyone.

“When I taught them how to speak by using cameras to make them understand the lip movement, within three months the first sentence they said was: ‘Sir, mi yeu ka? (Sir, may I come in?). That was a proud and emotional moment for me,” he said.

The classes began in Worli, then they were shifted to Elphinstone and were also conducted at Patankar’s home for a year, but Deepak is currently looking for a new place to teach his current batch of 8 students.

Sudha said, “We reside with our son and in-laws and they have never made us feel awkward or bad about anything. The aim of teaching these students is to make them feel confident about themselves and never let them live with the term ‘handicap’.”

Uphill journey
Deepak could begin with his Std I studies only at the age of 12 because no school allegedly accepted him before that. He was then allowed to skip Std II, IV, VI, VIII and IX because he was intelligent and performed well academically.

He had to discontinue his studies for some time after that due to financial reasons and began teaching Std X students to support his family. He completed his HSC only after his younger brother began earning. He then married Sudha, an artist who was part of one of his creative teams.

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