‘I want to get married’, an epic line by a physically-challenged man on a wheelchair is what inspired Kalpana Chowdhary, a leading Mumbai based Indian social activist, who’s been extending selfless services to Cancer patients, AIDS patients and people with other disabilities for 20 years, to come up with a special matrimonial portal with free registration for the physically disabled and specially abled individuals looking for life partners. This said, Kalpana is no middle-aged matchmaker doing the rounds of homes and arranging marriages. Instead, she is a matchmaker on a mission!
What is it all about?
“Specially Abled Matrimony is an institution that is aimed at providing free assistance to the physically disabled and helps remove the fear of loneliness from that strata of society where marriage still remains a taboo and is one of the most hidden fantasies,” says Kalpana, founder of Jan Seva Foundation, an NGO she founded in 2011 – primarily focused at providing, supporting and developing the neglected, downtrodden and under privileged ‘human segments’ of the society in the areas of education, healthcare, livelihood and human rights.
“I have had a passion since my teens to continuously give myself fully to helping those in need and creating opportunities for them to excel through training them across effective skill sets, so that they can then change their own lives and continue the cycle of improvement. JSF undertaking of implementing a century’s change in a decade by adopting a 100 villages in total, planned for the period 2015-30, was received in fervent awe,” says Kalpana.
What is the social impact of Specially Abled Matrimony?
Specially Abled Matrimony caters exclusively to the people with special needs or those wanting to marry someone with special needs. It serves as a platform to connect with liked-minded souls who can find their match on this portal. It helps all these special people to get in touch with similar abilities not only as a soul mate, but also find companions for the extreme cases.
Having an uncanny knack for connecting with and meeting new people, Kalpana, with her innovative plan, strongly believes that her notion could well transform the lives of the differently-abled for good. “Eminent personalities from various walks of life have given their consent to be a part of the cause – extending their strategic, advisory and active support,” asserts a confident Kalpana.
According to a recent report published by the UN– about 80 million with disabilities live in India and out of these only five percent actually tie the knot. This fact, appalling as it may seem, was shocking to her and she made up her mind to develop a mobile app that would cater to 200 million-plus people globally with disabilities.
When matchmaking goes the app way!
Therefore, after four years of its start, Jan Seva Foundation is now working to put in placea free dating app for the differently-abled and help them find the right match“ This is a unique mobile app that will enable people with disabilities to run into like-minded people, build confidence and nurture relationship,” says Kalpana. Interestingly, she also found that matchmaking amongst people with disabilities happens on an intellectual level through understanding each other’s impairment and limitations. Therefore, this app, built with exclusive features for the specially-abled like ‘screen readers’, places more emphasis on the personality of an individual than conventional social factors such as social class, caste, religion, or even physical appearance.
“Specially abled matrimony isn’t just an app to finding the right partner–as more people ‘come out’ to use this platform– we can reduce the fear, change stereotypes, and give hope to differently-abled people,” says Kalpana. “I feel it’s an outlet to deal with some of their biggest challenges and enable them understand better,” adds Kalpana.
All said and done, the road to success is winding as she met with her own share of roadblocks in the development process. “It is a charity model. I want to take it across the world without get restricted to just a few NGOs or people. I want people to know that this is very much a charity app, just like any other non-profit model,” confides Kalpana.
The road ahead
Kalpana is also planning to include other social issues like widow remarriages, etc., in the scheme of things. She is currently in the process of raising funds to build, launch, and market her ambitious app projects likely to be launched this December by the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi as part of his ‘Digital India’ push. If you would like to support her dream of making the world more inclusive and know more about her work, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special Song and A.V. for Janseva Foundation & Speciallyabledmatrimony.com