Mohammed Gaddafi is a differently abled person. Not wanting to depend on anyone, he gave his best and studied hard to get a PhD degree. His dream was to get a government job, but it was easier said than done. So, wanting to support himself and help others like him, he has started India's first bike taxi service run by differently abled people. In his words,
"I saw a differently abled person on his bike at Marina Beach one evening. He parked the bike in one corner and started begging. I was shocked and when I confronted him, he asked, ‘How can we lead better lives just because the government has provided bikes?’"
That is when Mohammed realised that with no source of income, differently people were taking desperate measures to feed themselves and their families.
Unable to sleep that night, he found the man from the beach, helped him service his bike, and pasted a taxi sticker on it to help him make a dignified living. He proudly says,
He now earns Rs 500 on a daily basis without having to let go of his self-esteem. He calls me often to thank me for helping him retain his dignity.
A friend of Mohammed's suggested that this could be a full-fledged venture, and that was how Maa Ulaa, with bikes provided by the Government of Tamil Nadu for disabled people, was born.
Though the concept of bike taxis is new to Chennai, people have taken to them rather quickly as they do not feel vulnerable around the differently abled.
However, they did face a roadblock in the form of auto drivers who saw them as a threat. Over time, though, they have come to understand the plight of differently abled people and now even help them find rides.
Read this in Tamil.