February 18, 2014
Heroes are not always those who change the lives of those around them. Sometimes true heroes are those who muster the courage to turn their own world around. I met up with Irwin Peter Menezes on my trip to Mangalore, last month and his story is one that vows to inspire millions.
Irwin was very young when he was diagnosed with polio. The sickness left him crippled below his waist in a way that he never walked again; but this didn’t discourage him to live a life that most of us only dream of living.
“I’ve been driving a rickshaw for five years now,” says Irwin. “I always wanted to drive a rickshaw and so I’m glad I achieved my dream.” The charming young rickshaw man helps people commute in and around Moodbidri, Birav, Taccode and other adjoining areas. So what is the best part about his job? “I love meeting new people and making new friends.”
I ask Irwin what a typical day in his life is like. “My day starts at 5.30 in the morning,” he says. A cup of tea and his morning prayers see him through the day up until noon time when he meets his friends for lunch. “I don’t drive my rickshaw all day. It depends on how many rental calls I get. You could say I get around 3 to 4 customers when business is peak.” Once Irwin is home, it’s family time! “I love playing with my nephew,” he says with a smile. “Ghara matarin, burgin and pete zaijett, na zalyaar zainaa (Elders, kids and pets are what make a house, a home).”
If you thought driving a rickshaw is Irwin’s only achievement, hold that thought! Irwin took an open-school, Grade 10 examination which he passed and is also computer literate. In addition he is a self taught carpenter (see the image of the easy-chair crafted by Irwin). “I used to observe and work with the carpenters who came to our home,” he says. Irwin has even learned tailoring and straw-designing. Any other hobbies that you have? “I love singing; I sing at church and am part of the choir.”
Irwin draws his strength from God. He believes that God provides and will help. “We must face our life like it is and not give our challenges too much importance; just behave normal.” He attributes his success to his trust in the Almighty and hard work. “Listen to your elders’ advice and take help from your friends,” he adds.
Optimism and enthusiasm personified, Irwin Peter Menezes is one man you definitely want to meet. So the next time you’re in Mangalore and need a ride, you know whom to call!
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