It is easy to despair when things do not work as we would wish them to. But, then, there are others who sculpt destiny to do their bidding despite suffering several disadvantages. Prathamesh Date, a youth from Ichalkaranji in Kolhapur district of Maharashtra, is one of the latter.
Prathamesh, born on 29th November 1987, was diagnosed as a case of Mosaic Down Syndrome. His parents accepted the fact and, instead of falling prey to superstition, strictly followed the doctor's advice. Prathamaesh was advised a list of therapies spread over five years including speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. The result has been that today Prathamesh works an assistant librarian in Ichalkaranji.
From a boy with Down's Syndrome to a self-reliant man has been an arduous journey but one that justifies the adage, "Where there is a will, there is a way". Prathamesh's grit has been recognised and he has won a number of awards - he won the President of India's National Award for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), 2010, and the Best Individual (PWDs) category award by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, 2009.
More recently, Prathamesh received the 2012 World Down Syndrome Day award instituted by the Down Syndrome International. The names of the recipients for the awards were announced on March 21, coinciding with the World Down Syndrome Day, but the awards were conferred during the 11th World Down Syndrome Congress (WDSC) held in Cape Town, South Africa, during the middle of August.
Prathamesh could not be present to receive the award personally. A message from him was, however, read out at the awards presentation ceremony. "I was born with Mosaic Down Syndrome. I did not understand the meaning of it. As years passed, I could understand I was not normal," Prathamesh's message said. He went on to acknowledge the efforts and guidance of his parents, close relatives and his doctor. The peak on which he has landed has been the result of these efforts and guidance, his message said while exhorting others to take encouragement from his story.
Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder that occurs because of the presence of an extra 21st chromosome. Each person inherits 23 chromosomes from the mother and 23 chromosomes from the father. Sometimes an accident occurs and one of the parents gives an extra chromosome. When the extra chromosome happens to be chromosome number 21, Down Syndrome occurs. In mosaic Down syndrome, some cells have normal number of chromosomes and others have the extra number 21 chromosome.