Mel Kaur knows a thing or two about being different—she’s had spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) since she was four.
“I used to be able to walk—just differently from those around me,” says the 30-year-old. “But I had a fall when I was 12 and my condition worsened during the recovery period. This resulted in me having to use a wheelchair to get around.”
“My parents would take me to many doctors and experts to find a cure for me. But when I was 18, I realised that instead of trying to find a cure, I should accept my disability.”
After school, she worked as a customer service operator and telemarketer before realising it was healthier for her to get a job that can accommodate her needs.
“Both office jobs made me realise it was indeed tough for me to work a nine-hour shift without troubling one of my family members to assist me with going to the loo. Plus, my motorised wheelchair had spoilt at the time. I needed a new one but could not afford it.”
She eventually managed to secure a job with Daughters of Tomorrow, a charity that supports underprivileged women. Her current responsibilities include digital marketing and video editing and she gets to work from home on most days. But the best part about the job is it has kept her inspired.
“I get to meet people from all walks of life,” she says. “I meet our beneficiaries and realise I have taken so much for granted. I meet our corporate partners and realise I have yet to achieve a lot of things. I meet my colleagues and realise I’m at the right place.”
Mel has also learnt to accept some of the unpleasantries that come along with her disability. She used to get upset when people stared at her because it made her feel inferior. But now, she understands that most of the time, people are just curious.
“The first thing you’d notice when you see me is my pink wheelchair. But there is so much more to me than my disability. I love shopping, makeup, tattoos, travelling and memes. I get sad when a dog dies in a movie too. I’m just a woman who brings her chair around.”
For others in a similar situation, Mel has a few words of advice: “There will be times when you’ll doubt yourself, but think of all the things you have accomplished, and how you got there. Take one step at a time. If you feel that you want to try something new, go for it! Whether it works out or not, at least you know you tried.”