Nineteen-year-old Sujatha Burla, fondly called Suzy, was all set to go abroad for higher studies when tragedy struck. A freak accident during an impromptu road trip to Shirdi left her immobile below the shoulders. “Before going abroad, I had set up a studio at my home and loved to capture different subjects with my camera. During this time, my friends casually suggested why not go to Shirdi? En route, a speeding truck rammed into our car; the next thing I know the doctors were telling me that I would never be able to walk again,” says Suzy.
The memory of the pain and frustration of life changing in a moment remains to this day, but Suzy has chosen to rise above her circumstances. Today, she offers hope to the less fortunate and tells them not to give up on their dream at her orphanage, Shraddha, which is home to 25 children.
“I was working as a stock market trader from home at the time when I met a lady at the hospital one day. We both got talking and I found that she was having difficulty supporting her children financially. So I suggested I would take care of them. Since then, they have been living with me,” shares Suzy.
Word about her soon spread, and more people began approaching her. “I talked with my mother then and both of us decided to open an orphanage with the income I earned from trading.” However, the effort it took to do this wasn’t easy. The accident had affected Suzy deeply. “I sank into depression. My so-called friends also moved away which was quite a blow. I lost my father soon after. Coming out of that agony was difficult, but I overcame it,” recalls Suzy. But she chose to rise above her circumstances and found happiness in helping others.
“All the children go to private school and I visit the home twice a week. My mother takes care of the day-to-day activities.” She ensures the children get the best of facilities at her home. Between running the orphanage and trading, Suzy also worked in a TV show becoming the first paraplegic anchor in India. She is the recipient of six national awards for her work as a paraplegic social activist. Life may have dealt her a big blow, but Suzy remains optimistic. “I live each day as it comes,” signs off Suzy.