The Lady who woke up from a Nightmarish Ordeal to find herself on Top of the World
It all began with a tragic moment in Dr. Arunima Sinha’s life while travelling to Delhi by train. A national-level volleyball player, who was all set and prepared to appear in a recruitment exam, she sat in one of the unreserved coaches of the train but things played out cruelly for her. Dr. Arunima faced a bunch of goons who wanted to rob her of her luggage and gold chain. But she paid a heavy price for resisting. Thrown out of a moving train, she fell on the tracks, when another train came marauding over those tracks and crushed her left leg from below her knees, fractured her right leg from the hip to her heel, and fractured the bone in the lower back. This incident left her with a severed leg and pelvic injuries. She lay there hoping for help all night, making every breathe she took no less than a struggle with monster-size rats eating off her injured body. By then she had lost so much blood, that she couldn’t move or resist them. Unfortunately, help didn’t arrive until six the next morning, and the courageous survivor underwent critical physical damage.
Treatment didn’t change things much except that it spared her life from the pinion of death. After an advanced treatment at AIIMS, she received prosthetic replacements for her limbs. During the four-month-long stay at AIIMS to undergo treatment and medication, Dr. Arunima decided to give herself a goal to conquer the highest peak in the world. She gave herself the commitment to climb the mighty and magnificent Himalayan peak.
At that stage, it was challenging to convince people she was stern about her life’s motives. But then she sought the guidance of acclaimed mountaineer Bachendri Pal, and later she joined the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering at Uttarkashi, Dr. Arunima proved she meant taking her life’s decisions in her steady hands. It took her eighteen years of rigorous training to get acquainted with the art of mountaineering and pioneer her climbing skills. Support came from her mother, who encouraged the strong-willed woman to carry on and work towards fulfilling her goal. For two years, she climbed several peaks in preparation for her “once in a lifetime ascent,” including the 6150 meters high “island peak.”
She also conquered the 6622 meters high Mount ChhamsherKangri, along with a TSAF (Tata Steel Adventure Foundation) instructor, Susan Mahto. But her ascent towards her dream summit began on the first of April back in 2013. After a climb through the treacherous terrain and the extremely cold climate, she finally made it to the top. There was once a time when she faced the social stigma, the resulting pity, and after her limb’s amputation. But now Dr. Arunima believes that this enormous success was an answer to all those who thought an amputee couldn’t achieve this much in life.
The majestic Himalayan peak of Mount Everest had earlier broken the spirits of many able-bodied ambitious climbers, but it respectfully bowed down before Dr. Arunima. It earned her the title of the World’s First Amputee Climber to have climbed Mount Everest for her country, India. However, this was only the beginning. In the future, she targets to climb the highest mountains in all the seven continents, a target that no other amputee climber has ever set before. So far, Dr. Arunima has already summited Africa’s Mt Kilamanjaro, Australia’s Kosciuszko, South America’s Mt Aconcagua, Antarctica’s Mt Vinson, and Russia’s Mt Elbrus. In fact, she is the first amputee to climb Antarctica’s highest peak Mount Vinson (a feat that she achieved on 1st January, 2019).
Dr. Arunima has also written her autobiography titled “Born Again on the Mountain,” published in 2014. Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a part of the book’s launch event. In the year 2015, she was conferred with India’s fourth-highest civilian award, Padma Shri, and she is also the proud recipient of the Tenzin Norgay Highest Mountaineering Award.
Presently, Dr. Arunima has engaged herself in various social welfare works through her foundation, Dr. Arunima Sinha Foundation. She also runs a non-profit school for underprivileged handicapped children. Now that she has successfully challenged and deferred the notion that specially-abled people are not dependent and weak, she wants to extend help to other physically challenged people to achieve their goals. Her current plans also include opening up a sports academy for those with physical disabilities for which she has acquired a piece of land in Uttar Pradesh.
The resilient and valiant Dr. Arunima desires to see others like her receive an equal opportunity in society and equal respect from fellow human beings.