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August 24, 2023

Navjot Cycle Rickshaw Walla

Name : Navjot Singh

Age : 22 years old

Location : Alampur, Ropar, Punjab

Business : Cycle Rickshaw Delivery Service

Navjot Singh is a much-loved personality around the streets of Alampur, where he is seen daily delivering goods on his cycle rickshaw. People fondly refer to him as ‘Navjot Cycle Rickshaw Walla.’ But this was not always the case. When he was born with intellectual disability and bilateral claw hand and foot deformity, local people shied away – speaking in hushed tones they would say hurtful comments like ‘what a burden for the family!’ and ‘how can they manage with his behaviour?’

Today, nothing could be further from the truth. Navjot is no burden – an asset in fact – bringing home Rs. 8000-10,000 per month from his delivery business, and proudly managing his own affairs. Of course, it was not always this way, and Navjot’s parents struggled in the early years to manage him and integrate him into society. When he was 7, he was sent to a local government school, only to be bullied or ignored by the other kids.

It was not until his parents discovered Ambuja Manovikas Kendra (AMK), that things began to settle in his life. In 2015 at the age of 14, he was enrolled at AMK where he received regular therapy to strengthen his fine motor skills, and develop his communication. He learnt many life skills like grooming, eating, hygiene and social development which saw him come ahead in leaps and bounds in terms of how he could manage his daily life.

On graduating from AMK, he was integrated into the Skill Development & Rehabilitation Centre cum production centre for youth and learnt pottery – making diyas and other decorative items and selling them from his home. But his mother saw so much more potential in him, and shared with AMK staff that, despite his physical limitations, Navjot was an excellent cyclist – having learnt to ride from his elder brother. 

Capitalising on this skill and interest, AMK worked to improve his riding skills and develop his self-confidence. Navjot practised for hours for carrying a heavy load on the back of the cycle rickshaw to see if he could manage. And soon he was ready for business.

Seeing potential in this simple skill, AMK mobilised the local community to explore the possibility of helping him set up his own cycle rickshaw delivery service. Buoyed by the positive response, a local donor was found to purchase the cycle rickshaw, and businesses were canvassed for their support.

A local kirana store came on board – taking orders on his behalf, Navjot got to work delivering groceries to people’s homes, bags of cement to construction sites, ferrying bags of seed to farmers for sowing, and transporting catering materials for functions. Covering 15 km per day across 6-7 villages, Navjot knows every lane and byway – finding short cuts along the way and manoeuvring his rickshaw with skill and agility.

Grinning from ear to ear and clearly proud as punch with his achievements, Navjot exclaims, “I’m a working boy now” and is quick to make clear plans to purchase his own modified motorcycle to speed up his deliveries in the near future. He and his family have refused to submit to societal norms of hiding disability away in the home, and as a local celebrity (having been featured on local TV), he has become a role model and inspiration for all!

Impact

Rs. 8,000-10,000 Monthly Income

15 km distance cycled each day

Servicing 6-7 villages

78 Graduates from AMK's Skill & Rehabilitation Centre

August 24, 2023

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