I have FA, FA does not have me

On the International Ataxia Awareness Day (IAAD) – 25th September, Hasitha Illa shares her story to create awareness on Ataxia.

Friedreich’s ataxia is a rare genetic disease that causes difficulty in walking, a loss of sensation in the arms and legs, and impaired speech. It’s also known as spinocerebellar degeneration. The disease causes damage to parts of your brain and spinal cord and can also affect your heart. “Ataxia” means lack

Hasitha Illa from Pune was diagnosed when she was 10 years old. After many visits to different hospitals and many misdiagnosis it was finally confirmed that she had FA (Friedreich’s ataxia )

She was attending a mainstream regular school, which was not inclusive.  Her walk got stares from many. She says there were many incidents of discrimination and she was left out from many events too.

Her choice of B.Tech as a degree course was also questioned, and she felt that many were demotivating her. But she remained focused  and got her B.Tech Degree in Medical Bio Technology. She is now preparing to join PhD in Genetics. She has never considered her disability as a barrier which would slow her down in her pursuit of her goals.

“ In my journey of life, there were many incidents where I felt I didn’t want to live such a life. However, I received a boon in my life called Heartfulness Meditation. From that day, I was hooked into a spiritual path of life. My positive attitude and strong personality is as a result of regular meditation “ – Hasitha

Acceptance had not been an easy process. For someone who was normal, to struggle to walk, and then to a wheelchair was a slow process. But by the time she started using the wheelchair, there was a lot of change in her mindset and she was happy. She says our mind and the thoughts play a major role on how we see challenges and how we face them.

Her new found strength and her interest in writing and speaking, helped her in becoming a motivational speaker and a writer. She has a Blog and a YouTube channel where she covers various topics – mainly related with health and mental well being and disabilities. She feels that there is a lot of work still to be done on awareness and she wants the society to understand the difficulties faced by Persons with Disabilities. And through these mediums she wants to send a message to others that they are not alone.

“ I recently discovered that I had a knack for writing and I did not want to let it go for waste. Instead, I am using it to bring about awareness on various topics like mental health and disability. I’m using my skill in order to smash social stereotypes and to go beyond to let people know that it is okay to be different “ – Hasitha

Being a motivational speaker opened new venues for her. She has spoken on various platforms and has shared the stage with some prominent personalities including the famous Shankar Mahadevan.

She says she has an extremely loving family and some supportive friends who have always been by her side, supporting and encouraging her. She is a fun loving person , spreading laughter and fun. She hopes to soon write and publish a few books.

She lists some of her Achievements –

  1. Completed my B.Tech in Medical Biotechnology DY Patil University. I stayed in hostel during my B.Tech years in order to gain experience on the world around me. I gained a lot of self-confidence and learned to deal with difficult situations, while I lived there, independently.
  2. Did my end of the year project as a dissertation student in the prestigious institution, Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB)
  3. Received 4th place in an all India short story competition
  4. Participated in the Miss India wheelchair pageant in Mumbai
  5. Gave an inspirational speech in front of 30,000 people in Hyderabad on the event of SitareeZameenPar with ShankerMahadevan beside me
  6. Gave motivational speeches on various occasions on behalf of the Heartfulness Meditation Institute.
  7. Started a blog in order to serve as an inspiration as well as to bring awareness about mental health and that physical shortcomings are not an impediment for succeeding in life. The people who have read my blogs have gotten inspired and sent very positive feedback.
  8. Receiving the ‘Global Women Empowerment Award’ from Mrs. India and Global Visionara
  9. I have been recognized in 4 different newspapers: Hello Vizag, Eenadu, Sakshi and The Hans India
Giving a Speech during Covid

 Please follow Hasitha Illa – for further updates and info.

Website link: https://www.lifewithhasi.com/

Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_uhC5nYOxYQefcIwZpfxeg

Instagram profile link: https://www.instagram.com/lifewithhasi/

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