The Mary Verghese Award 2013, instituted by the Mary Verghese Award Foundation to an individual, or organisation, who, or which, made an outstanding contribution to the cause of enhancing the quality of life of physically-challenged persons, was presented to K.V. Rabia, founder of the Chalanam Movement in Malapuzha, Kerala.

He was presented the award during the Rehab Mela organised by the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department of the Christian Medical College here on Saturday.

The award commemorates Dr. Mary Verghese, who, after becoming a paraplegic on sustaining a spinal cord injury in an accident, founded the PMR Department in the CMC exactly 50 years ago to serve paraplegics and other physically-challenged persons.

Bharadwajan, a social worker of CMC, who read the citation on Ms. Rabia, said that in choosing her for the award, the Governing Board of the Dr. Mary Verghese Foundation recognises her outstanding contribution to the cause of literacy and enhanced quality of life for the physically challenged, and, in particular, women.

“By sheer dint of hard work, she has drawn national attention. Lack of resources has not been a constraint at all to her,” he said.

Ms. Rabia has tackled extreme adversity and challenges of the kind rarely encountered by any person. Affected by polio, she has been confined to a wheelchair for almost three decades now. This nipped her education in the bud when she was pursuing graduation.

Besides, she is a cancer-survivor, having fought off the disease in a determined manner when she was in her early thirties.

George Tharyon, Head of the PMR Department in the CMC, who presented the award to Ms. Rabia, said that there were many parallels between her and Mary Verghese, in that the challenges they overcame were a source of inspiration to the physically-challenged persons.