Meena Sonik was only three months old when she was first diagnosed with Multiple Congenital Contractures, a rare condition which makes it hard for body muscles to function normally and leads to brittle bones structure. Her journey, which began with joy, was soon tested by adversity, leading her on a path that shaped her into an inspiring figure.
When her family were supposed to be by her side, she faced unjust treatment from them as they saw her condition as a burden, tarnishing the family’s reputation and hindering their freedom. Some of them advocated ending her life to be relieved of this burden. As a result, Meena was deprived of education opportunities as her family believed it was an investment without returns.
However, she found unwavering support from her mother, a pillar of strength, who taught her the virtues of patience and hope.
“My mother was blamed for giving birth to a child like me,” Meena says.
Although from the vibrant place of Rajahmundry, she spent most of her life in the town of Tirupati for her treatment. It was here that she had to endure several surgeries to combat the effects of the condition. As she grew up, her limbs got effected by the disease.
“After going through 30 surgeries, I now use wheelchair for mobility, and can use my left hand to work. Before that, I was totally bed ridden,” she says.
Despite these challenges, Meena managed to complete her studies, proving her determination to the world. It was during this time that she discovered her passion for design, which became her window to the world. Armed with internet resources and books, she honed her skills, transforming herself into a skilled designer.
However, the corporate world was not always kind to her. She faced multiple rejections from companies due to her physical disability but refused to be defeated. In the midst of this struggle, she found her oasis – CriticalRiver. This company welcomed her with open arms and embraced her talent, treating her as an equal in their journey of success.
“CriticalRiver founder and CEO Anji Maram is one of my role models. I look up to him to improve my leadership skills. Anyone can build an empire like CriticalRiver, but only he can build such a healthy work environment with values and making people the priority. Senior director Arun Kumar Prathikantam is my energy and a great mentor. He always teaches how to improve myself professionally and how to be a strong team player for the organization. I have learned a lot from his dedication, work ethics and leadership,” Meena says.
Surrounded by supportive colleagues, Meena thrived, and CriticalRiver became her backbone. Design became her passion and her means of self-expression. According to her, designs not only shapes businesses but also changes lives.
Now she dreams of sharing her knowledge with start-ups, empowering their brand growth and teach design to individuals facing physical challenges and housewives seeking to achieve their professional goals.
With a clear vision and the unwavering support of her second family at CriticalRiver, she set her sights on a future working with their branches in the USA or Dubai.
Meena’s life is not defined by her disability. She lives life just like anyone else without a disability would live their life, embracing challenges, defying odds, and leaving an indelible mark on the world of design. We salute her courage and believe true talent can be recognized beyond the wheelchair.