TAMIL NADU

Disability not a handicap for them

CHENNAI, AUG. 14. Madhuri Kapur is as gorgeous as the late Hindi actress, Nargis Dutt. Mithu (as Madhuri is known at home) has similar features -- aquiline nose, porcelain skin and curly hair tightly braided into two plaits.

When Mithu was born 33 years ago her mother's heart broke to find that her baby had cerebral palsy.

Mithu's mother, Saroj, soon learnt that her daughter would never move without help and could never speak a word. And a determined Saroj made sure Mithu would ride a horse, swim in a pool, make friends, work on the computer, paint a watercolour... The last reason is why Mithu was invited by Mukti, an NGO working for the disabled, all the way from Kolkata to Pondicherry.

At a press conference, Poonam Lalchand, chairperson of Mukti, Chennai, and Nirmal Mirza, chairperson at Kottakuppam introduced Mithu and three other talented artists who headed south for a week-long art workshop and exhibition that began at Ananya Art Gallery today near Pondicherry.

A volunteer at a cathedral, Mithu and even teaches disabled children to paint, says her mother, who worries long and hard about her daughter's future.

"I think if she gets a scholarship to go abroad her future would be secure after my time," says Saroj.

Mukti, started 18 years ago, gives away free artificial limbs for physically handicapped people.

More than 1.25 lakh people have been helped over the years, says Ms. Lalchand. For the third consecutive year, Mukti is showcasing artworks of disabled people in Tamil Nadu, the first two exhibitions of which were held in Chennai

Along with Mithu and her mother, Sheela, an award-winning artist from Lucknow who paints with her feet; and the brother and sister both paralysed by polio Ganesh Kumar and Sunitha Thrippanikkara, 21, who also paints with her mouth, are participating in the workshop.

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