• Disability Inclusive Development Day - Sita's Story

    Posted by Lucy

    17 July, 2013

    Over 1 in 5 of the world’s poorest people live with disability – meaning that including people with disabilities in our aid program is key to overcoming poverty. Today we’re making sure this important issue stays on the aid agenda by taking part in ‘we D.I.D. it’ day, calling for an AusAID Ambassador for Disability Inclusive Development. Here is a story of why…

    Meet Sita. At 21 years of age and wearing a dress that she has made in beautiful colours that reflect the bright Indian sun, she is a picture of confidence and capability.

    However, Sita’s life has not always been so strong and hopeful. Like many others in India of her age, Sita contracted polio when she was young which led to a permanent disability that affected the way that she walked and moved.

    “I started to miss school because it was too hard to get there. It was more than 2 km away and we cannot afford a bus. So I ended up staying at home and doing nothing. I stopped going outside and seeing my friends. I was very sad,” says Sita.

    Even when Sita was able to go outside, she found that she was treated badly because of the disability. Children she knew crossed to the other side of the road away from her and made fun of the way she walked.

    “The boys in the village would call me names when they smiled at the other girls. It made me cry and they were very rude.”

    Sita’s experience is common in developing countries. Often in the poorest countries, there are negative attitudes about people with disabilities, and few facilities to ensure people with disabilities can access education, healthcare, training and community activities. This means that people with disabilities run a much greater risk of living in poverty. At the same time, millions of people who live in poverty run a greater risk of having a disability, because of factors such as dirty water, malnutrition and unsafe working conditions. These issues combine to create the cycle of poverty and disability – and lead to over one in five of the world’s poorest people living with disability.

    This is a cycle that can be ended, when development and aid projects address and include people with disabilities. The end of the cycle for Sita came one day when she found out about a program that taught women with disabilities how to sew so that they could make a living. Sita’s corner of her family home is now piled with fabric and her prized possession, her sewing machine, takes centre stage.

    “I have been restored inside. I have a job, a future and have never been so confident,” she smiles.

    Sita’s story demonstrates why including people with disabilities in our aid program is key to overcoming poverty in the world’s poorest places. Australia’s Aid Program has made huge progress in this area, but there is still so much to do. That’s why Micah Challenge, together with many other agencies, are taking part in the ‘we D.I.D. it’ day of action for Disability Inclusive Development. We’re calling for the Government to appoint an AusAID Ambassador for Disability Inclusive Development, to ensure that disability is properly highlighted throughout Australia’s aid program. Together we can end the cycle of poverty and disability!

     

    Here’s how you can get involved to ensure that people with disabilities like Sita are included and supported through Australia’s aid program:

    Tweet up! Tweet about the day and the importance of disability in development, using the hashtag #weDIDit

    Here’s an example: It’s #weDIDit day! Let's support an Ambassador for Disability Inclusive Development & end the cycle of poverty & disability @MelissaParkeMP

     

    For more information on the ‘weDIDit’ day of action and Disability Inclusive Development, check out www.addc.org.au and www.cbm.org.au

     

    Lucy Daniel (@lucyjoydaniel) is the Policy and Advocacy Officer at CBM Australia, a member of the Micah Challenge coalition. CBM works with people with disabilities in development. To find out more about the cycle of poverty and disability, visit End the Cycle.