Like many women making a better life for themselves, Arunima Sinha was on her way to a bright future. But during a train ride from Lucknow to Delhi in 2011 for a job related meeting, the course of the then 26-year-old’s future changed.
She says a group of men tried to snatch a gold chain she was wearing. “When I said no, four or five of them threw me from the train,” says Sinha.
Another train was coming on and it ran over her feet, severing one foot while the bones in the other foot were broken in many places.
For seven hours Sinha lay on the tracks, with rats running over her legs,
unsure of how many trains ended up running over her in the dark night. “I was screaming, calling for help, but no one came,” says Sinha.
“I want to be strong in my heart. If I am strong in my heart, I don’t need my physical body to limit me.”
After a painful night alone, when the sun came up, some villagers saw her there and rushed her to the hospital where she learned that her left foot under the knee would need to be amputated. She now has a prosthetic and a metal rod in her leg. “I felt like everything was over,” says Sinha. “Even today it is hard for a normal girl, so imagine how hard it is for a handicapped girl.”
Dark thoughts entered her mind. “At first I thought about how hard it was going to be and I wish I had died instead,” says Sinha.
But her thoughts quickly changed. “If God saved me, he must have saved me for something,” says Sinha. “Either give up on life completely or you take the situation at hand and live with it.”
When she was lying in the hospital bed, Sinha says those around her used the word “helpless” to describe her condition. That’s when she decided that she never wanted that word to be associated with her again.
Sinha chose the toughest goal imaginable to prove her resiliency. “I wanted to do something no one has done before so I could be an example,” says Sinha. “I want to be strong in my heart. If I am strong in my heart I don’t need my physical body to limit me.”
In May 2013 she achieved the unthinkable, scaling Mount Everest in 52 days. At first the mountain guide refused to take her because of her prosthetic leg, which kept falling off during the ascent. “I was scared but I kept going,” says Sinha.
“I made my handicap an opportunity and then lived life.”
Her story is just one of many of the dangers women in India face in their day to day lives. “We need to make each individual woman strong so that she is able to protect herself,” says Sinha.
She now plans to open a sports academy for poor and physically challenged children in Uttar Pradesh.
“A real person is the one that takes a problem, turns it into an opportunity and then lives a life,” says Sinha.
To learn more, visit her on the web: http://arunimasinha.com/