I am Pranay Burde, a 33 year old living in Mumbai, India.
I live with my parents, two brothers one elder and one younger, sister-in-law and eight year old nephew.
We are a strong family of seven. We family members all together get involved in almost all activities concerning family matters. My family members know that a strong family is most important in the life of a person with Down syndrome.
When the family is strong, children with and without Down syndrome feel safe and secure. Strong families have strong connections outside the family. That is community and we call it extended family. I am proud to say that we have strong support from community and association of parents with which my parents and I are associated.
When I was young I used to play with friends of my brothers. This has immensely improved my social skills. I got support from every section of the community like watchmen of the apartment building. When I was learning roller skating watchmen used to hold my hand and support me learning.
This involvement of all family members and members of the community and neighbours made me perform better and learn good life skills and be what I am today.
I am proud of having a strong family.
At the age of 19, in April 2007 I joined The Leela, a five star hotel in Mumbai. I worked with The Leela as full time employee for over thirteen years until 17 March 2020 when the Covid19 pandemic gripped my country. My job required academic skills like alphabetical as well as numerical knowledge. I used to do my job with great care. I proved myself on the job by taking lead in managing various departments of The Leela independently.
Besides being in open employment, I have been in various creative activities like making decorative wall hangings, table mats, greeting cards, Gift Envelopes and Punch Craft Gift Envelopes with different forms of arts and crafts for several years.
This is the unique art being practiced by a few recognised artists. Probably, I am the only Indian with Down syndrome who practices this art. I learned this art from my mother Mrs. Prasuna Burde. This craft consists of drying flowers, flower petals and leaves in a flower press to flatten and exclude moisture, then mounting these on special paper such as handmade paper, ingress paper to create different kinds of designs. I have been making these artefacts for several years and presenting to my friends. But like a blessing in disguise, I chose this art work as my profession. I make these artefacts in large numbers and sell locally as well as online and earn my livelihood. I am proud to be self employed.
National and International Recognition
My journey from a child with Down syndrome to a young professional and an artist is unique and commendable. My skills have won me admirers everywhere and my hard work has resulted in numerous accolades Nationally and Internationally. Some are as under:
- “National Award 2017”: The Award was given to me in public recognition of my performance as the ROLE MODEL in the category of Intellectual Disability.
- “National Award 2014”: The Award was given to me in public recognition of my performance as the most efficient employee in the category of Intellectual Disability.
Both these awards were conferred on me by H.E. President of India on 3rd Dec 2017 and 2014 which is observed as International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
- “World Down Syndrome Day Award 2014”: Awarded by Down Syndrome International. I got this award for advocating for my rights and advocating inclusion of Persons with Down Syndrome.
Excellence in Sports
I am a winner of Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal each in various events in Roller Skating at Special Olympics, National Games. Besides roller skating, I play cricket, football, basketball and swimming.
I attended number of Self Advocacy Training programs and subsequently participated as a trainer in various Self Advocacy training workshops organized by Parivaar, National Confederation of Parents Organizations.
I am a regular speaker on Self Advocacy at the National Parents’ meets, Regional Parents’ meets held across the country as also at programs organized by number of organizations.
I am proud to say that I am an active member of Self Advocates Forum of India (SAFI). SAFI is the only registered organization of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities in India.
I participated in 12th World Down Syndrome Congress 2015 in Chennai and delivered keynote address on “Capacity Building of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities”. I was fortunate to get an opportunity to hold the flag of one of the participating countries.
I also participated in group discussion of a group of Self Advocates and represented the group for making the group’s views clear at “Panchayat” a programme for Self Advocates at WDSC 2015.
As responsible citizen I have been exercising my voting rights at Parliament and State Legislative Assembly Elections and Mumbai Municipal Corporation Election as well.
I am an excellent dancer and have been part of Bollywood choreographer Shiamak Daver’s Institute for the Performing Arts.
Right from childhood I have been participating in various adventurous activities. I braved all odds during the 26 July 2005 deluge in Mumbai, and had to stay overnight on the road with no communication and power. I saved myself from drowning.
I started travelling by myself at the age of 11 when I was in school. Seeing me travelling all by myself the school presented me as a role model to parents of the school. As a result many parents were motivated and trained their children to travel by themselves.
I am computer savvy and operate computer and do data entry, typing, formatting and emailing. I am on Facebook. I have smart phone and use it with ease.
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