2014 Hermann Gmeiner Award Nominee: Deepak KC (Christian Deepak)

Life in an SOS Children’s Village made Deepak KC (Christian Deepak), 39, from Nepal ‘forget’ that he was physically disabled. The love and support he received gave him wings to strive more, fly higher and help others along the way. His list of accomplishments in aiding the disabled is evidence of that.

Deepak has been in a wheelchair as long as he can remember. He became part of SOS Children’s Village Jorpati at the age of 9. The SOS Village in Jorpati was the first village in Asia dedicated to children with disabilities.

“It was beyond my imagination when I saw that friends like me were sharing joy and happiness in a wonderful environment. Although all of us had some kind of physical limitation, our activities and memories are no different than those of normal children,” Deepak said.

He went on to become the first wheelchair user in Nepal to obtain a degree in architectural engineering. Deepak said this is the achievement he is most proud of because it was a physical and psychological struggle to earn the degree at a college that lacked ramps and wheelchair-accessible bathrooms.

Deepak is recognized as a pioneer in the movement of universal design, which takes into account the full range of human diversity. As a result, wheelchair accessibility in Nepal has increased.

“To focus on personal growth and to become a successful person is good, but it’s not enough. As children who grew up in SOS, we all have the responsibility to create a better society,” Deepak said.

In 2012, he was also a technical member of the National Accessibility Guidelines Drafting Committee. And his expertise is recognized across the world. He was chosen as one of the jurors of the 2013 Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence.

Deepak is the founding president of the National Physical Disabled Table Tennis Association of Nepal. When he has time in between his work as a freelance architect and volunteering, he likes taking long drives in his four-wheel scooter.

“Deepak influences the lives of the people who view him as a role model in two ways. First, his work directly benefits their daily lives as their problems and issues are minimized. Second, he has become an icon whose story and work motivate people to work harder and prove themselves,” Rabin Nepali, Project Director at SOS Children’s Villages in Jorpati, said.

>> See the other 2014 Hermann Gmeiner Award nominees