Arunima Sinha, a former national level volleyball and football player is now the world's first female amputee and first Indian amputee to climb the Mount Everest. 29 year old Arunima lost her one leg in a tragic incident in 2011 while she was going from Lucknow to Delhi, when few thieves pushed her on the railway track on her resistance to give up her belongings. Today Arunima has instituted a Mount Everest in herself by just establishing such a huge goal during the crucial time of her life.
Q How did you cope up with the 2011 incident?
After the 2011 incident, I received lot of negativity from everyone. There were suicide rumours as well. But I feel there are two kinds of people in our society. One, who takes this negativity harshly, goes in depression and loose hope in life. The other is one who takes this in the form of a challenge. I believe I fall under the second category. I took it as a challenge and fought it back.
Q Why did you choose to climb Mount Everest of all?
I never wanted to live a life of an amputee. I never took the aid of a wheelchair or even a walking stick. I remember when I was in the hospital that time; I was going through this newspaper and suddenly one really good article on Mount Everest came. I questioned myself if I could ever do mountaineering. That was the beginning; my family immediately started encouraging me to pursue this goal.
Q What was the biggest problem you faced?
We all know the struggles in a women's life. That was always there. Apart from that, explaining people and making them believe in me was my biggest struggle. Also, financial problem related to cost of the expedition and equipments were also there.
Q Did you face any sponsorship problem?
I face sponsorship problem even now but Tata Steel has always supported me. Recently I had a talk with the MD of Tata Steel for my next expedition to Antarctica also. I believe everyone should know about these programmes introduced by such big firms and benefit from it.
Q Which are the mountains you have climbed till today?
My first ever mountain was Everest in Asia, followed by Kilimanjaro in Africa, Elbrus in Europe, Kosciuszko, Australia and Aconcagua in Argentina as the world's five highest peaks. My toughest experience was Carstensz Pyramid, Indonesia as it was a rocky mountain and extremely slippery due to the waterfalls there.
Q What do you do when you return from your Mountain Summits?
There is always a huge crowd to welcome me. After meeting my mother and the rest of the family, the first thing I do is eat. One gets very hungry after returning from such expeditions.
Q Can you tell us about your beliefs and inspirations?
I do believe that nothing is impossible if you have the courage to do it. Also, humbleness is the key. I remember my mother after I returned from the Everest, she said, "No matter how much you rise up you go in life, your legs should always touch the ground". My spiritual guru, Swami Vivekananda has also inspired me throughout the journey with his wise sayings and thoughts.
Q What is your strength in life?
The support and blessings from people around me is my biggest strength. People I don't know prayer for me when I go for my summit. These prayers work as my strongest weapons. My leg which was my weakness once upon a time has now become my strength too.
Q What are your plans after Antarctica?
I believe that we should always have one goal at a time and focus only on that. Right now, it's the Antarctica expedition. Also, these are temporary goals. My main aim is to open a sports academy for physically challenged to help them achieve their dreams in life. I feel like it's my responsibility to train and help people like me because someday someone helped me to reach this position.
Q What advice would you like to give the youth of the nation?
First, I would advise them to establish a goal for themselves because nowadays the main problem is that the young generation doesn't have any goal in life. Work on your goal very hard till you reach it. For people who lose hope easily and go in depression, I would say that God always gives problems to those he thinks can deal with. So, if you are facing that problem it has come to your life for a reason, to change something. Adverse situations come to bring a twist in your life, embrace it and fight it out. Also, learn to make your weakest point your strongest weapons, just like I did.