British Asia News Network - London
London, Oct 9: 78-year-old Punjab-origin British lady Joginder Kundhi is a role model for those who shy away from achieving their dreams due to their inability or disability. She fought throat cancer, struggling to survive to the point that all hopes were lost and she was even on the death-bed thrice. But her sheer determination, commitment and indomitable will to fight the disease not only brought her back to life but even gave her the strength to become instrumental in lighting the lives of several voiceless people across the globe.
She lost her voice due to cancer when she was 50. But now, she is the voice for thousands of less fortunate people.
Joginder Kundhi's journey is indeed inspiring. She arrived in London from Tanzania when she was 25. Mother of four, Joginder's life was comfortable until 1980. But sudden pain in her throat changed her destiny in a way she had never imagined. Initially, the doctor who treated her for throat pain said it was a common thing, a symptom of cold or cough, but when her pain did not abate she underwent further tests to determine the cause. When she was diagnosed with throat cancer, her world fell apart, still, she mustered the courage to fight the disease for the next 10 years. She survived several painful moments, but when her primary vocal chords were removed in 1990, she became a disabled person without voice or speech. She became totally mute as no vocal communication was possible. The next five years she went through all kinds of struggle, but managed to get a speech-generating device. She can speak through the device, and though without 100% ability, her instrument helps her converse with people.
"Though my disability was clearly visible, and despite my limited vocal ability, I decided to help people, create awareness among the disabled people and do whatever's possible from my end," she says.
"For 15 years I travelled around New Delhi, Colombo and across the UK to create awareness among specially-abled people. My job was to motivate them. I wanted to bring such people to the mainstream. I also put in my efforts to help elderly people who were neglected by their children and those who do not have a family.
"I interacted with and trained several thousand people in India, Sri Lanka and the UK. But with age, travelling abroad grew tougher for me, so in 2010 I decided to start something in London for the elderly," says Joginder Kundhi, who exudes all the charm to motivate people who lack confidence, whether able or specially-abled individuals.
Yoga, Tai Chai, Bollywood dance for the elderly community:
Joginder communicated with a few surrounding elderly people and realised that spending time with them and interacting with them was the need of the hour here in UK. Many elderly women who lived alone or found life difficult without socialising started interacting with Joginder. And then came the 'Brent Punjabi Association' - though the name suggests a community, the forum is open to all without any barrier of region, religion or language. Several men and women have registered with the organisation, and every Tuesday they gather in London.
The members of the association participate in very interesting activities when they gather on Tuesdays. A busy day-long event motivates them and gives them a much-needed distraction from their daily routine.
Rajni Jagpal, member of the association for the last six years and now its secretary, says, "We used to start the event day with Yoga, but recently changed to Tai Chai, a kind of Chinese martial art, in an easy form for the elderly. Then we have a one-hour Bollywood dance session. The best thing is, many senior women who never danced in their life have learnt to dance now. Apart from full meals, there is entertainment like Bingo, music and other fun activities.
When asked about the source of funds for their activities, Jagpal says, "Wembley Stadium National Fund and Big Lottery are helping us by providing funds, and also, there is a nominal membership fee. "It would be nice if like-minded people came forward and funded us as we can accommodate more people in the coming days. Fund is always an issue for us, but it does not demotivate us. We are sure people will help us"
'My family, my children are extremely proud of me'
Joginder Kundhi's amazing journey has been full of ups and downs, but now she feels proud of the fact that despite the disability, she has managed to live her life and help others. "My family, my children are extremely proud of me. When I was fighting cancer they used to carry me while moving from one place to other, but today, they feel so happy for me that I could achieve something in my life."
Kundhi, an official 'Citizen Advocate', still helps people in need, whether they are specially-abled or elderly citizens.
She recalled the help extended by MP Barry Gardiner who assisted her in setting up the association and registering the charity. She is happy that even at the age of 78 she is active and helping others. Many elderly women have been able to overcome their depression, Alzheimer's and other problems due to their association with Brent Punjabi Asociation.
She looks forward to serving humanity as long as she can, and invites like-minded people to contribute to her cause. More details can be availed by visiting the charity's website or emailing them:
Inspirational, should be a example to everybody