By Usha Wagle Gautam
Chitra Poudel, a cyclist with disability from Nepal, made Qatar his 55th stop of his ongoing world tour. Through his ambitious feat, Poudel wants to prove that nothing is impossible, and wants to inspire fellow citizens with disabilities.
Differently abled Poudel kicked off his world cycle tour in 2005. India was his first leg, and as of now he has already crossed over the Asian and Australian continents. After a month or so, he expects to set foot in Europe.
Hailing from Morang, east of Kathmandu, Poudel was infected with polio when he was six. After falling ill, he was taken to a witchdoctor instead of a medical doctor. Without timely medical support, he lost his right leg. Poudel has completed high school. At 16, his family took him to India only to be unsuccessful with the treatment. Around school and neighbourhood, he used to get bullied due to his handicap. Despite his unpleasant experiences growing up, Poudel developed a positive attitude toward himself and refused to be stigmatised.
“The biggest asset of a person is his confidence,” Poudel says with a hint of pride, “I want to set an example that disabled people can do a lot of stuff which most of the time they are restricted of.”
Poudel says he didn’t get a chance to even touch a bicycle while at home. He learned cycling when he came to Kathmandu after completing middle school in his village. As soon as he heard about Puskar Shah, the first Nepalese world cyclist who later wrote a book about his world tour, he made up his mind to go on a world tour himself.
In 2004, he completed cross-country cycling circuit in Nepal. During this tour, he was faced with many hardships and was deprived of shelter and meals on many occasions. “Then Nepal was in emergency,” Poudel recalls.
He had bought a bicycle on credit. His world tour started with India, and he rode to New Delhi. Since then, he has travelled to 55 countries. After India, he toured the Saarc countries of Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
Thereafter, he set his foot in New Zealand. He has not been tired of cycling 90km per day whether under the bright sun in the Gulf or up the rocky hills in Australia. In fact, Poudel’s world tour was delayed by one year as a motorcyclist hit him and escaped, and he was confined in a Kathmandu hospital for about a year.
He has grown older by a decade since he kicked off his journey. “I want my name in the Guinness Book of World Records after completing the remaining 61 countries, ” he says,
Poudel was felicitated by the government of Nepal with the National Award and a cash prize worth $500. “This is the only support I have got from the government.”
While in Dubai, he got a chance to meet with other disabled people and share his experiences. “Disabled citizens face many hurdles. I want to set an example of how brave and competent disabled are, and inspire others,” Poudel says as he pedals away to another destination.
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