An act of altruism you would find hard to believe once you consider the striking achievements he has garnered over the past 37 years. An IT Expert. Winner of A National Award from the Vice-President of India. A Psychologist. An Adventure Sports Enthusiast who is an avid mountain climber and para-glider. An entrepreneur. With one small detail to complete the picture–Divyanshu is blind.
Our complaining nature never allows us to grow beyond the limits, we create for ourselves. But there are a lot of people like you and me, who crush their limits, break the inertia of being in their comfort zones and become legends.
A nineteen-year-old boy, Divyanshu lost his eyesight to glaucoma and a severe bout of tuberculosis had almost declared him dead. At the age when one is perpetually dogged with the “what next” question, he was told that his future lay in making furniture and chalk pieces.
He was deeply disturbed by the conditions at the rehab facility as well. After seeing how they were treating poor people, Divyanshu realized that he had just lost his eyesight and not his dignity. He could not sit there for more than an hour and soon left the rehabilitation facility.
But the many years that followed tell a story of resilience, determination, and will power topped with a generous dose of humor and wit.
Divyanshu learned to navigate the world, and while at it, grew proficient in the use of computers and software. After 6 years, he quit an institute he had set up to teach the visually impaired computer skills.
According to him, computers seemed outdated; the brain is the most complex machinery.
So, he moved to pursue human psychology and eventually got into neuroscience. Everybody was shocked that how a blind psychologist would be able to treat his patients. But he proved everybody that, if he can’t see then it does not mean he can’t dream.
Apart from his professional life, Divyanshu desire to fly in the sky. Flying is one of mankind’s oldest dreams because one feels free from everything, joyful and purely himself. Like any other journey Divyanshu did, his blindness didn’t come in his way to fly, but the stereotype did.
Where we think walking perfectly on the road is a big deal for a blind person, Divyanshu’s success tells a different tale to our narrow-minded approach.
In 2014, he became the country’s first blind solo paraglider.
He is also India’s first blind trekker, mountaineer, scuba diver, marathoner, and the first blind pillion cyclist to ride from Manali to Khardung La (the highest motorable road in the world).
Divynashu received congratulatory messages from all over the world but he realized that the attitude of the world’s perception towards the blind community had not changed at all. He realized that play is a great tool. A great way for people with and without disability to understand each other, to build empathy and bring about social change.
Today, at the age of 42, he’s a self-made social entrepreneur and disability rights advocate who has founded two companies. One of these companies is called Adventure Beyond Barriers Foundation, formed to promote adventure sports for people with or without disabilities.
There was no other organization in the world similar to ABBF before. They were the only premier organization promoting cross disability-inclusive adventure sports, in essentially 5 verticals. Climbing mountains, trekking, and tandem cycling which is again a great initiative for the blind, because the blind can now cycle alongside a captain- scuba diving, marathons, and paragliding.
His foundation was also the official inclusion ally for the recently-concluded Mumbai Marathon 2020.
Losing your eyesight as a teenager can break the spirit of even the strongest of people. But Divyanshu never stopped believing that he was meant to achieve great things and that no disability would be able to stop him from doing things that make him smile.
It was always people’s attitudinal barriers and their stereotypes that tried to tell him that he could no longer do what he wanted to do.
But he always had the power of belief dragging him closer towards his dreams, with every step that he took to break the stereotype.