When 22-year-old Coimbatore local AJ Radhika was diagnosed with a rare bone disease that left her unable to walk, she decided to not let it weigh her down and instead to bring happiness into the lives of others through her creativity and positivity. And that’s when she found her life’s true purpose.
Radhika was a playful little girl but as fate would have it, she was diagnosed with Brittle Bone Disease at the age of five. The doctors told her that even the slightest blow to her bones could cause them to break. The young girl had to skip school and instead started frequenting hospitals for treatments and surgeries, this was too much for a child to bear and she went into a shell.
Her brother Rajmohan CA shares, “She became increasingly silent and frustrated day by day as she could no longer do the things a child her age should.”
It was also difficult for the family to manage their expenses on account of Radhika’s treatments as her father is a retired mill worker, mother a home maker and her brother, an engineer in electronics and communication, who works in a private company. Radhika wanted to lead a normal life, make friends and get an education instead of lying in bed as her frustrations built, however schools refused to admit her because of her disability. So she began studying at home and clearing her exams with flying colours, she is now preparing for her 12th standard exams.
To keep herself busy, Radhika turned to creativing making paintings, greeting cards and other craft items and soon her artwork was being bought by people. This is when her brother came across the technique of making African dolls from newspaper and realised there is a huge market for this product. He shared this with Radhika, and she learned how to make them through YouTube tutorials using newspaper so as to not only create something beautiful but also reduce paper waste. This is how Queen Bee Craftz became a reality.
Starting in 2017, Radhika is now an expert and makes a variety of ‘Newspaper dolls’, from single, couple, family and customised dolls that resemble real people based on the orders she recieves. With the continuous request of her customers Radhika also started making Indian traditional based customised golu dolls for navarathri and all other Indian festivals. These are as small as 8 inches and as big as 36 inches, taking three days to make usually, and are sold at anywhere between Rs 150 to Rs 1000 depending on the size and material used.
Rajmohan shares, “The best part of these dolls is that the face is consistently painted black, so all the customisation is done to the outfit and body.”
The dolls got so popular that people from across India and the world, including US, UK, Srilanka, Canada, Dubai and Andaman and others started to place orders with Radhika, and she has made over Rs 2 lakh selling them. While Radhika is responsible for the creative aspect, her brother takes care of shipping the orders, ensuring there is enough raw material, and the marketing and communication aspect.
Radhika’s inspiring story has garnered a lot of attention, and now the schools that once denied her admission are inviting her to share her amazing journey with their students. The 22-year-old has also won many awards including the Young Achiever Award by Suryadatta Group of Institutions, Maharashtra – Suryadatta National Award in February 2021.
Rajmohan adds that while he and his family are happy to have supported Radhika through her hardships, there are many specially-abled people who are left to fend for themselves. He sincerely wishes that the government has a counselling program to help such people across India. Radhika now wishes to expand her business once the Covid-19 pandemic situation improves a little, she says, “In order to do something in life you have to become stronger, you have to be willing to push yourself beyond your limits.”
This story is submitted by Bilal Khan and edited by Alfea Shaikh.
If you like this story, share it and spread positivity. Tell us your views by writing in the comment box below. We read each one of them.