There are not very many who have defy negative doctors’ reports about their situations to come off with successful and inspiring lives. Muskan Devta is one of the few who has.
Born prematurely October 6, 1999 at 32 weeks, weighing a mere 1.2 kg with hemiplegia, a condition that left one side of her body paralyzed with a hole in her heart, under-developed lungs and several other disorders, Doctors said Muskan wouldn’t live for more than 100 hours, but with her indomitable spirit, Muskan is now 16 years old and an inspiration to thousands. She is a motivational speaker, a radio show host and has authored two book amongst more.
“Her eyes were full of life and hope, she was such a beautiful baby who wanted to live. And yes, the critical 100 hours were soon over,” says Jaimini Devta, Muskan’s mother
Born in Ahmedabad, India, Muskan was taken to New Zealand when she was just four because the kind of medical care and facilities she needed were not easily available in the country then. Muskan found adjusting to a new school and environment difficult. “Here we would get better opportunities for her treatment and it would be a more inclusive society, we were told,” says Jaimini.
“Students would make fun of me. Nobody wanted to be my friend. I would always be alone and would cry every day after returning from school. I would ask God why he did this to me and I would crave for a normal life like other kids,” she recalls.
“Whatever has happened has been hard on me but for good reasons,” says a chirpy Muskan as she gets into the conversation. “I had trouble making friends and felt lonely. That is when I started reading voraciously and writing, I needed to express myself in some way and this was the best that I could think of,” she says. Also the fact that she was an introvert ensured that she began writing which turned out to the perfect outlet for her suppressed emotions.
She would spend time reading since she had nothing else to do. When she was nine, she showed a desire to learn swimming but was denied lessons at a local swimming pool in Auckland due to her disability.
She was even told that she would never be able to swim. Today Muskan swims at an advanced level at the same pool.
Since Muskan did not have many friends, she developed a close bond with her family, especially her little brother.
“I have dedicated my entire life to her and she has been an amazing daughter. I couldn’t ask for more,” says Jaimini, Muskan’s mother.
“Before he was born I felt very alone. I had no friends. But ever since he entered my life he has made sure that I feel confident and happy. He takes care of me so much and loves me unconditionally. He is my first friend,” she says with deep affection about her brother.
During one of her regular visits to the physiotherapy centres, Muskan found out that the centre needed an exercise bike but did not have enough funds for one.
She came back home and decided to write a book to raise funds to buy the bike she was ready with the first draft of the book in just a day.
Her first book, on Lord Ganesha, was published at the age of nine. It received a great response and was included in the Ministry of Education’s 2010 journal that was distributed to all New Zealand schools. Since then, Muskan has written many pieces for local publications and even written her autobiography, I Dream, to inspire other kids with disabilities.
The book has been included in the English curriculum for Year 9 students at Westlake Girls School in Auckland. About 1,000 copies of the book have been published so far and she has managed to earn over NZD 2,500 from the sale of half of these books. All proceedings were donated to Auckland’s Starship Hospital where Muskan first had surgery at the age of 13.
Apart from being a successful author, Muskan also had a radio show at a Hindi radio channel, in New Zealand.
She was the youngest host on this channel and had about 59,000 listeners who looked forward to her show “Muskan and You” every week.
“I would talk about various issues like bullying, road safety, self-esteem, education, music, movies, and much more,” she recalls.
Muskan, a girl who once struggled to just live, is now an inspiration to thousands of kids and adults. She is a motivational speaker and speaks at the ‘Festival for the Future’ and ‘Zeal Tall Poppy’, which showcase young inspirational people from around the world.
With her positive attitude, Muskan has not only changed her own life but also that of many people around her. “I never say no. I take challenges and make sure I succeed,” she says.
Of late, she has been taking a lot of interest in speaking about women and leadership and wants to build two rooms in a school for blind girls, in Odisha, her father’s native state.