Kiran Warankar, 28, who is partially blind, had been looking for a suitable life partner without disabilities before he met his wife, Nirmala, who also suffers from visual impairment. Sunil Sangtani (30), also blind, has been searching for someone to share his life with. Varsha Pagare (30) is polio-affected in her left leg and is looking for a husband who would understand her disability and needs. These and several other differently-abled people have got a platform to find their partners through Voice Vision’s fifth matrimonial meet for the disabled.
The meet is designed to bring together people with different disabilities who have been looking for a life partner. “I started Voice Vision 17 years ago with my father for training blind people in computers. I had heard about talking computers in United States and so I trained myself and then started training others like me,” says Sushmeetha Bubna, founder and director of Voice Vision. Sushmeetha was born with cataract and lost vision in her one eye by the age of 12. She lost vision in her second eye as well when she 24.
“Apart from training people with disabilities, I decided to expand what we do, since it is hard to find matrimony for differently-abled people. So we started the matrimonial meet in 2013 and it has only grown in five years,” she adds.
Kiran had attended the meet last year and it changed his mindset about marriage, he says. “Since I was partially blind, my parents and I wanted a spouse who was normal. But when I attended the meet last year, my perception changed. My wife Nirmala and I understand each other’s condition,” says Warankar.
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He met his wife through his social circle after attending the event and they were married in December 2016. The happy couple was attending Saturday’s meet to tell their story to other participants. “We are very happy together now,” quips Nirmala.
The meet believes in matching capabilities rather than matching disabilities. Here, the visually impaired meet with people suffering from polio, the deaf meet people with cerebral palsy. There are 122 participants in the meet this time, 64 male and 58 female. For the first-timers, it’s a unique experience where they find respect, acceptance, understanding, friends and possibly life partners.
Sunil is attending the event for the first time and he travelled from Jaipur with his mother. “I’m looking for a partner who has the same disability as me as she would then understand me completely,” he says. His mother Varsha is happy that her son has got a platform where he can find someone he wants to spend his life with. “When Sunil told me about this I was ready to come with him. It is a very nice idea,” she says.
For 28-year-old Ajit Rathod, an accountant, the meet is a completely new experience. He suffers from foot drop, a result of an accident that changed his life five years ago. “I have been looking to get married for a while but since the accident, it has been difficult. I have come here because I don’t care if my partner has a certain disability.
There should be understanding and compatibility, that is all,” he says.
Many here have faced rejection in life due to their disability. But at the matrimonial meet, even if one might not find the ideal life partner, they will find acceptance and new friends. “I was once rejected by a man because of my height. I am on a wheelchair, how does my height matter? I was very disheartened then. But this meet has changed my thinking. There are definitely positives here,” says 26-year-old Balraj Kaur, who suffers from cerebral palsy.
She is an MPhil student of disability studies at Kalina University. “For me personally, the disability aspect is a social stigma and nothing else,” she adds.