A man rides his blue bicycle

A celebration and a challenge on International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is annually observed on 3rd December to promote the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities and to take action for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and development.

When Govinda, shown above, was a baby, he lost both of his legs after a tragic burn in an open-hearth fire. For years, he lacked mobility and was fully dependent on his mother.

That is, until he met Humanity & Inclusion. Now 26, and living with his mother and wife in Kailali, Nepal, Govinda received rehabilitation care from NNSWA, a local partner organization of Humanity & Inclusion through the USAID-funded Strengthening Rehabilitation in District Environs (STRIDE) Program.

Humanity & Inclusion’s team and its local partner helped Govinda strengthen his muscles through physical therapy and fitted him with prosthetic legs, so that he could walk. For Govinda, STRIDE provided more than just physical mobility. He also received psychosocial counseling and the resources he needed to open a grocery store and support his family.

“My identity in my community has been shifted, he says. “I feel dignified.”

Indeed, Govinda isn’t alone. He and other Nepalis with disabilities frequently encounter a myriad of challenges, and are often subjected to stigma and discrimination. This is largely due to a lack of understanding and acceptance from the wider community.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities both celebrates the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities, and challenges people without disabilities to stamp out intolerance, and to identify and act as allies.

At Humanity & Inclusion, which began work almost 40 years in aid of Cambodians who had lost limbs to landmines, we know the harm that exclusion and stigma perpetuate. To mark the day, teams work to increase public awareness, understanding & acceptance of people with disabilities. This happens in part by celebrating the achievements and contributions of people with disabilities in the countries where we work. Teams also by promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.

“Persons with disabilities need a head seat at the table,” says Shiva Acharya, Disability Inclusion Advisor at Humanity & Inclusion in Nepal. “They are barrier-breaking agents of change, and by pushing for their involvement, and taking stock of their ideas and needs, we can break down the barriers that unjustly stop people with disability from achieving their full rights, their full potential. The world must afford them all the opportunities they deserve.”

Decade of STRIDE

Over the past decade, STRIDE has provided essential physical and psychosocial assistance to 52,000people with disabilities like Govinda. Humanity & Inclusion, together with local organizations, has supplied thousands of artificial limbs (prosthetics) and braces (orthotics) as well as physical therapy sessions to people across Nepal.

Teams ensured that people in remote areas and those who couldn’t make it to the rehabilitation center, still received the care they needed through the mobile rehabilitation camps. All-in-all, these services have helped people with injuries and disabilities in Nepal to become more independent, participate more actively in their societies.

The support of Humanity & Inclusion donors and the American people through the STRIDE project made it possible for more than 18,000 Nepali people to stand tall and walk again, but it also helped empower more than 4,000 people to work inclusive, decent jobs.

By providing counseling and personalized social support, community workers helped to identify the needs and interests of each individual served, and connected them to physical rehabilitation services, vocational training institutions, employers, microfinance organizations, and other livelihood actors. Sabita is one of those who benefited.  Today, she is happily running a business with her spouse. Thanks to personalized social support counseling & a start-up grant provided by the STRIDE Project. Dipesh is 20, with cerebral palsy received rehabilitation care and business counseling from HI’s local partner is empowered to manage a grocery store and support livelihood of his family.

The project also supported livelihoods institutions to make reasonable accommodations to include people with disabilities in their services and programs. Jay Lal is a local cycle-repairing mechanic in western Terai. Jaya received cycle maintenance tools and business counseling support from a social worker who was part of HI’s local partner organization.

Nandakala, shown below, is a grocer thanks to STRIDE. The income helps support her family, including her husband who is blind. “We are both happy,” she says. “We are disabled and poor but we have each other, so we smile every day.”

A woman sits in front of her grocery shop. Behind her are items to buy.

"I had no hopes for my life, but now I am living a happy one," says Mangale, shown below practicing walking. When Mangale was a baby, he lost both of his legs after a terrible burn. He lacked mobility until he met a social worker from Humanity & Inclusion. Mangale was referred for rehabilitation services at the National Disabled Fund, HI’s local partner, where he received a pair of prosthetic limbs, and trainings to walk with them.  



PHOTOS ©: Pralhad Gairapipli/ HI