Tag: hope

People with Disabilities in India: Hopelessness and Hope

Today International day for People with Disabilities is being observed around the world.

Here in India, we also have various events to commemorate the day like every other year but PWDs continue to live in extreme poverty, facing different types of discrimination, poor quality of life and hopelessness.

PWDs in villages are still being mocked and are identified by their impairments. Disability is largely considered a consequence of one’s past life sins or karma instead of being a physical condition and disease. Widespread awareness is still lacking among people who are both educated and denied education.

PWDs are often looked down upon or looked at in a manner that makes them feel worthless. Even when we show compassion and kindness, it is more out of pity rather than the actual intention of helping the person grow. Our behavior is attached with stigma and discrimination and our use of words affects their self-esteem, confidence and faith in themselves. Some even don’t dare to attend public functions in fear of being rejected, mocked or looked down upon or considered as helpless creatures. Many are confined to their homes all their lives.

Although, disability is often a low priority for the government, in the recent years there have been many initiatives taken. In 2013, while I was working in Jharkhand, it was the first year the District Administration was observing Disability Day. This is almost 20 years after IDPWD was declared globally and more than 15 years after the PWD Act 1995 was passed. It is tragic that such a global event had been ignored for so long while there also seems to be a glimmer of hope as the District Disability Rehabilitation Centre was started on that day as well.  There are various rights for PWDs outlined in the Act and there are various social welfare schemes initiated by the government but they hardly promote empowerment, wellbeing, and freedom. At the ground level, the initiatives by the government are limited to disability pension of Rs 600/- p/m. In addition to the fact that the amount barely provides for basic needs, it is very irregular. Pensions are received once in 6 months or sometimes once a year. Even when they receive the amount, it is used to meet family expenditures making it close to impossible to have a decent quality of life dependent on the pension.

A few other initiatives by the government include the provision of assistive devices like wheelchairs and tricycles for PWDs (but not all) with restricted movements. These events are rare and when these equipments are given, they are of very poor quality and often do not last long. When a few PWDs actually utilize them, their movements are still restricted as the rural infrastructure such as roads, houses, toilets are inaccessible.

Apart from this, in order to avail any government benefits, PWDs are required to have disability certificates. Unfortunately, by 2012 when my colleagues in EHA had started working in the area in Jharkhand, very few had disability certificates in the region. Around 80 – 90 percent of PWDs were not registered or given certificates. The certification is a lengthy process which requires multiple visits to the district headquarters. It is both time consuming and a financial burden. Caregivers or family members who are dependent on daily wages find it especially difficult to get the work done. Even this disability certification process is not exempt from corruption. People with lesser impairments sometimes pay and get higher than 40% percentage of disability in order to access government schemes easily. On the other hand, there have been instances where people could not pay and have got lower percentages of Disability during certification.

As stated above, there are many challenges and barriers to a better quality of life such as social, financial, institutional and infrastructural.

There are hardly any government initiatives that focus on capacity building, skill development, education and empowerment of PWDs. Skill development programs which are functioning are more of a hype rather than doing any sustainable good.

It is 26 years since the first human development report was published by UN based on the capability approach. The government should focus more on building capacities, providing opportunities and an environment to utilize their skills, disable friendly technologies and accessible markets. Moreover, to create a community and society which is open, educated enough and inclusive in order to provide an enriching environment which is necessary for better quality of life.

However, it is not all hopeless. In the recent years, many Non-Governmental photo1729Organizations have come up to work in this area of disability, focusing on the right based and empowerment approach. In rural areas a few well informed NGOs are trying to strengthen the rural institutions and helping in forming disability people groups in order to work for their rights. The Government is also increasingly coming up with policies but the implementation is still dependent upon the mercies of the officials.

Hope is raising, change is happening but the question is can we be satisfied with this? Satisfied by the disguised notion that things are changing? If we are satisfied with the way things are changing, we are doing injustice by denying their rights. We need to be impatient, because the way things are changing, by the time we ensure an equal society and wellbeing for all, millions of lives would have been lost without education, quality of life, wellbeing, freedom and even without having to dream.

As the popular quote from Nehru’s speech on the eve of India’s Independence goes, “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom”. I wonder we are still waiting for that stroke which will bring with it life and freedom to other relevant aspects of our lives.

Let’s observe the International Day for People with Disabilities as a reminder that a lot is still to be done much more than what we have achieved so far.

Love

Abinash

P.S. Contributed by Rachel

Nav Jivan – During Monsoon

Since three years rainfall in this area had been quite low and had affected agriculture by a huge margin. By the grace of God, this time the rainfall seems to be promising. Until now the amount of rainfall is quite good and hope it continues for some more days. We wish this year farmers will have a good and substantial cultivation of the monsoon crops. Ponds and other water sources that were dried up since two years are starting to flow again. It seems like the greenery has been restored and we pray it continues too. We thank God for this showers of blessings as we hope there would be enough in store for poor farmers.

Here are some photographs of our campus during monsoon this year. hope you enjoy…
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Water from different places getting merged and flowing down to the pond
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Hospital Pond, This pond was dried up completely last year.
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Maintenance guys clearing up the water ways.
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Mr. Eliyas making sure of uninterrupted water flow

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My friends coming to see our pond which is getting filled up
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View of our pond from the other side

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You can see water in the agriculture field outside of our campus…Last year we played soccer in the same fields during this month.

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Rachel bunking office and enjoying the rain out there..

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And the Photographer…

Pray for us so that we may continue to have good rain…

Thank you

God Bless…

Sound of Silence

As on June 30th we had finished our project cycle of three years. The past three years was an amazing but strenuous experience, especially the last 6 months as we frenzied through activities leaving all of us in our team exhausted. Hence a retreat was planned for the team away from all the noise and work in a place about 200 kms away. We stayed in an abandoned but beautiful retreat centre.

The 2 days away from all the chaos was a blessing and the 1st session was one of the most interesting times. It was part of the devotion and we had found a beautiful spot, which most probably was a popular spot as there were stone benches, greenery all around and peaceful. Our facilitator asked, all of us to grab a bench each and spend some time silently. He encouraged us to close our eyes and just listen to the sounds around us.

I chose the farthest bench in a hurry to get away from everything and as I closed my eyes, breathed the cool fresh air and listened unintentionally to all the sounds of around me. It was blissful…. Those 15 minutes in silence actually helped and as I sat there, I put all I heard into words and out came this silly poem, hope you enjoy it.

P.S. It doesn’t rhyme but bear with me, I was in a trance, ha ha ….

The sweet sound of silence

Can be heard only in the quiet

The rhythmic beating of your heart

The distant crow of the roosterPhoto6080

The occasional sound of a vehicle passing by

The song of the Koel

The constant chirping of the Crickets

All this and more

Can be only heard

In the sweet sound of silence

Clam your heart

Close your eyes

Open your ears

And enjoy the sweet sound of silence

I strongly encourage everyone reading this, if you’r rushing through life, stop, take a break, go somewhere far away from work, breathe some fresh air, close your eyes, open your ears and enjoy the sweet sound of silence.

Note: More pictures of this amazing place coming up in the next post.

Happy Reading, God Bless…

The Kite Runner – A Review

The kite runner by Khaled Hosseini is an amazing book. I just read it recently and thought to post the review.the-kite-runner-400x400-imadmdqhqxht9qan

It is written with great passion and simplicity and so profound. The author has portrayed the soul of Afghanistan in the book; Afghanistan in its beauty and in its torment.

It is a great piece of writing, with beautiful characters of different age groups. There are wonderful examples of forgiveness and enormous sacrifices. There are characters that have sacrificed and forgiven and being faithful all through their lives. And there are characters who have taken all the risks to rescue a child for life from definite ruin. The abiding faith and loyalty of Hassan towards his master and friend Amir would astound you.

Simply saying, in the midst of misery there is full of hope, redemption and forgiveness.

It is showing the lives during and after the cold war and how the post cold war has affected whole of Afghanistan with the Taliban intrusion. You can imagine every bits of life in Afghanistan through this book. I loved it and my perception towards Afghanistan changed forever…

It is a must read book for all. Written with true spirit and great passion with flow of emotions, you will never feel bored.

I loved the writing and now reading ‘The thousand splendid suns’ by the same author and would post the review soon.

Thank you

God bless…

Dialogue and its 5 fundamentals for true education and transformation

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The Author

I am at my home during this holidays and reading Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”. It’s an amazing insightful book, which everyone who works for transformation of the world must read. What I am getting from the book is brilliant and I would also like to share few thoughts from a chapter with you all. I do not want to paraphrase it or change it but I want to put it as it is written by the Author.

I dedicate this post to all my friends who have been falsely accused and charged for raising their voice for what they believed and for asking for a dialogue. I just want to tell them that they were right because their intention was to dialogue for betterment of situation and their means were harmless and kind. So the consequences was not because of them but due to the absence of the “sense of dialogue” in the other party. I just want to say, stay strong, stay hopeful and be good…and pray for the people so that they may understand…

Everything written below is not mine but purely from Paulo Freire’s book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”. All the credit is to the author of the book.

Human existence cannot be silent, nor can it be nourished by false words, but only by true words, with which men and women transform the world.

Human beings are not built in silence, but in word, in work, in action-reflection.

Dialogue is the encounter between people, mediated by the world, in order to name the world. Hence, dialogue cannot occur between those who want to name the world and those who do not wish this naming – between those who deny others the right to speak their word and those whose right to speak has been denied them. Those who have been denied their primordial right to speak their word must first reclaim this right and prevent the continuation of this dehumanizing aggression.

He says dialogue will not be possible in the absence of 5 things, namely: Love, humility, faith, hope and critical thinking.

  1. Dialogue cannot exist, however, in the absence of a profound love for the world and for the people. The naming of the world, which is an act of creation and re creation, is not possible if it is not infused with love. Love is at the same time the foundation of dialogue and dialogue itself. It is thus necessarily the task of responsible Subjects and cannot be exist is a relation of domination. Because love is an act of courage, not of fear, love is commitment to others. If I do not love the world, if I do not love life and people, I cannot enter into dialogue.
  2. Dialogue cannot exist without humility. Transformation of the world cannot be an act of arrogance. Dialogue, as the encounter of those addressed to the common task of learning and acting, is broken if the parties lack humility.

How can I dialogue if I always project ignorance onto others and never perceive my own?

How can I dialogue if I regard myself as a case apart from others – mere “its” in whom I cannot recognize other “I”s?

How can I dialogue if I consider myself a member of the in-group of “pure” men, the owner of truth and knowledge, for whom all non-members are “these people” or “the great unwashed”?

How can I dialogue if I am closed to – and even offended by – the contribution of others?

How can I dialogue if I am afraid of being displaced, the mere possibility causing me torment and weakness?

Self-sufficiency is incompatible with dialogue. Men and women who lack humility or have lost it, cannot come to the people, cannot be their partners in transforming the world.

  1. Dialogue further requires an intense faith in humankind, faith in their power to make and remake, to create and recreate, faith in their vocation to be more fully human. Faith in people is a prior requirement for dialogue. Without faith in people, dialogue is a farce which inevitably degenerates into paternalistic manipulation.
  2. Nor can dialogue exist without hope; Hope is rooted in people’s incompletion, from which they move out in constant search – a search which can be carried out only in communion with others. Hopelessness is a form of silence, of denying the world and fleeing from it….
  3. Finally, true dialogue cannot exist unless the dialoguers engage in critical thinking – thinking which discerns an indivisible solidarity between the world and the people and admits of no dichotomy between them. Critical thinking contrasts with naïve thinking, which sees “historical time as a weight, a stratification of the acquisitions and experiences of the past, from which the present should emerge normalized and “well-behaved”. Only dialogue, which requires critical thinking, is also capable of generating critical thinking.

Without dialogue there is no communication and without communication there can be no true education.

Trust is established by dialogue. False love, false humility and feeble faith in others cannot create trust.

To say one thing and do another – to take one’s own word lightly – cannot inspire trust. To glorify democracy and to silence the people is a farce: to discourse on humanism and to negate people is a lie.

Thank You

God bless….

A long way to go….

The year 2014 is going to end in few hours. We are entering another new year with lots of hope, promises, and so many wonderful feelings. There are lots of things to remember, lots of good and bad and many more beautiful experience. But the word that was popular and one that I heard often in this year was ‘Development’ I think. The whole country was busy with election and so many promises had been made. The year ends with the very popular phrase ‘development for all’. That’s a good statement, in fact a beautiful one and a beautiful idea too.

The ‘development for all’is not impossible but I struggle with the idea every day. While working with the community I struggle to keep up the hope in my everyday work and life. The big concern is whether it is real or just a dream which would never come true. I am not against those promises made by the government and political leaders, I am not saying, it is a false hope that have been given to people but it is hard for me to believe that ‘development for all’ can be achieved with the present thoughts and attitude towards it.

What is development? I am not asking the definition!When to call a particular community developed, is a big question. What does development mean for those who are promising and for those who are hoping or expecting? Is the development all about the infrastructure, factories, business and international relations,economic development etc? In the name of development so many things have been happening but the poor are still poor or becoming poorer. Their struggles are increasing day by day with new troubles. Instead of the growth, new social and environmental problems are being added to their lives every day. What is then the development everybody is talking about?

Don’t you think development means much more than what most of us actually think? When can one say a community is developed? It might differ from one person to another but the basic thing about development would remain same. I think the development is when; peoples’ participation increases, they are part of decision making, there is opportunity to grow and use their potential, willingness to take initiatives, able to dream, there is education and awareness, people are contributing to the growth of the community, identifying and addressing their needs by themselves, community is improving their living condition without external help, able to manage resources effectively, participation in planning, implementation and evaluation of the community based programmes, able to facilitate others, enjoy good health, able to think freely, able to respect all human beings, able to communicate, able to maintain peace with one another and with the environment, has a good value system, there is a sense of security and there is justice. I would say a community is developed when I see all these. But I leave it up to you to think and define development.

For this to happen, I believe it should start from within. And it would be possible when we choose to work with people at their same level not as a superior being, trying to help them. Our superior attitude would never bring the change that we desire in our communities rather it would push them to deeper oppression.  This might be possible only when they are facilitated to think on their own rather than imposing our thoughts on them.

I am not finished yet… I also will be sharing with you what the community thinks about development.I will continue this through my future posts but till then I leave you to think about your own version of development.

The dream of ‘development for all’ is not going to be achieved overnight….It is a long way to go….but no matter how long, let us make our contribution towards this as far as we can…. Where ever you are, you can make development happen….and that could be a part of your New Year resolution….Take care and share your thoughts….Have a blessed year ahead….

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God Bless….