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Polio-stricken man returns to Coimbatore from Canada to spread awareness about the disease


Meenakshi Mahadevan,CNN-IBN
Jan 14, 2013 at 01:14pm IST

Coimbatore: As the country marks two years of being polio free, CNN-IBN brings the story of Ramesh Ferris. Fighting all odds and biases against children with polio, the crusader is spreading awareness about the disease.

The place in Coimbatore is more than just an orphanage for Ramesh Ferris. It was there where a 3-year-old Ramesh was given up for adoption after he contracted polio that left him paralysed and it was the same orphanage Ramesh returned to in 2002, to start off on his crusade against polio eradication.

"When I came here 10 and a half years ago, I got a glimpse of what my life could have been. I saw polio survivors crawling on the ground because they didn't have access to the braces and the corrective surgeries and the crutches I received in Canada. And then any negavtive attitude that I had just went out of the door and it was a thought provoking phase of my life," Ferris says.

During an emotional reunion with his biological mother in 2002, Ramesh learned of the condition of other polio survivors. He went back to Canada and after much reflection, began his polio awareness campaign. Hand cycling across Canada, he addressed thousands of people, spreading the awareness and raising money to benefit fellow polio survivors.

"I don't want to see 10 million children being needlessly paralysed across the world as the WHO predicts if we don't continue the fight and it's preventable by just 2 drops of vaccine," Ferris says.

Ramesh is back in India again to meet his biological parents and to continue his fight against polio. "I didn't know about the polio vaccine and I had to give up on my son but I'm so happy to see him like this now," says his mother.

Since his visit to Coimbatore in 2002, life has come a full circle for Ramesh. It was here that he had decided to dedicate his life towards polio eradication. And it's ironical that the day he decides to return to Coimbatore marks the second anniversary of polio free India.

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