Sunil Das

Sunil, along with Anna, were the first boys that David helped. In July 1999 these two 16 year olds with learning difficulties became the first members of the shuktara family.

David was living in a small flat above a beauty parlour in Kolkata, with his friend Alison from San Francisco and her husband Bryan in the flat above. They had set up a centre teaching typing and computer skills to children from low-income communities.

This was to become Uddami, and is still running today.

"These two frightened boys soon adjusted to evenings watching TV with Alison and I," said David. "Sunil would happily throw buckets of water from the balcony, over the heads of permed and coiffed society ladies below. We were thrown out."

With two boys and very little money they moved into two ground floor flats in a working class neighbourhood, and the rest is history!

Sunil adjusted happily to family life. He loves holidays, but Diwali is his favourite because of the fireworks. He is profoundly deaf, but he can hear fireworks and they always make him giggle.

He also loves anything that flies: from planes to birds, bats, insects, butterflies and kites.

Because Alison and Bryan were there on the day Sunil moved in, and have remained very connected to his life, we asked them to tell us what makes Sunil unique. Bryan said:

Everybody loves Sunil... and I think Sunil loves everybody.

He loves to go shopping, travel, and to eat in restaurants. He goes wild for airplanes, trains and fireworks. He loves to be around people. He loves his time at the computer watching videos, playing games or just fooling around. A few of his preferred films are Lawrence of Arabia, Monsieur Hulot's Holiday, Madagascar and Dumbo. He loves to select his favourites and then settle in for a long night of watching them.

We all say Sunil is developmentally disabled but over the years we have seen Sunil grow in his ability to communicate and express himself. He has mastered DVDs, computers and tablets that befuddle some of the rest of us. He knows what he wants and he finds out how to make things work so he can do the things he wants, when he wants.

Sunil is happy doing the things he can. When he can’t do one thing he finds another to do. Sunil is joyful. He is sometimes angry but the anger quickly dissipates and he returns to his joyful self. We should all be as quick to accept others, quick to discard anger and be as happy with what we have as Sunil. His nickname is 'The Master'.

Sunil redefines what it means to be 'disabled'.

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