Julekha is a 19-year-old orphaned girl, she was found by Kalpana Verpe at a roadside at a tender age of seven. Kalpana is the founder of the NGO named ‘Aniket Seva Bhavi’ in Pune. She raised and took care of her as one of her own.
Julekha lives in a shelter home run by the NGO which works for the betterment and welfare of special children. She does not know how to read or write and is a mentally-challenged girl, yet she won a bronze medal at the Special Olympics 2019 hosted in Abu Dhabi. She was a part of India’s Volleyball team.
My Medical Mantra spoke to Julekha and asked her about one of the greatest moments of her life. Julekha said, “I am very happy that we won a bronze medal, but, we missed out on securing a gold. I really wanted to win it, the next time I go there I will surely my best to win a gold medal.”
While sharing her experience about her trip, Julekha candidly admits, “I was excited as I was travelling in the plane for the very first time. And, when I looked out from a window, I could not believe my eyes. Watching clouds float by from the window of a plane was a lifetime experience for me.”
This achievement hasn’t come easy and Julekha has invested a lot of time and effort to reach where she is today. The past two years have gone by with Julekha preparing for the volleyball sporting event at the Olympics.
Yogendra Joshi, a volunteer with NGO ‘Aniket Seva Bhavi,’ spoke about the formative years of Julekha and what sparked an interest in volleyball, he said, “Julekha has no interest in the studies, so we enrolled her in the activity class. During the sessions, her interest in volleyball grew and she started playing it. Since the past two years, she has been preparing for the Special Olympics. And today, she has made all of us proud by winning a bronze medal.”
Kalpana Verpe, the woman who took her in at a young age and raised her said, “Today is the biggest day of my life, and I can’t describe my happiness in words. Julekha has us all proud. She is a really a special child.”
Verpe further said, “Julekha has seen a number of ups and downs in her life. But, she never lost hope at any given point. I am sure her struggle and achievement will inspire many in the years to come.”
Verpe had a message she would like to share, she said, “Differently-abled kids are seen in different parameters by others around them. But, these kids also have something special in them. People should not discriminate against them and treat them as normal.”
Over the years, Julekha has successfully come a long way ahead, though her path was difficult. For an orphaned mentally-challenged child to become an Olympic Bronze medallist seemed rather impossible, but she did it. Her journey is truly an inspiration.