• Discovering a common thread this International Day of People with a Disability

    Posted by Chelsea

    3 December, 2012

    International Day of People with Disability is particularly significant this year. Internationally, the Day celebrates its 20th anniversary.  For me, it marks the start of my year long internship at CBM.

    I have worked in the area of disability rights - both in Australia and in East Timor - for the past three years, yet the facts continue to astound me.  Over one billion people in the world live with a disability.  80% of people with a disability live in developing countries. No wonder this is such an important day to mark.

    Halimatou proudly shows her crop with her mother and daughter. Halimatou has partial paralysis of her left leg.

    Beyond the fact that there is such a high prevalence of disability in our world, it is people’s willingness to share their stories that I have been truly amazed by in my work so far.  Despite living in poverty, experiencing stigma and social exclusion, I have been humbled by people’s incredible personal stories, and their willingness to share them.

    It is only now at CBM Australia that the link between disability and poverty really dawns on me. I am starting to see how poverty is a common thread woven into many of the stories I heard. 

    With one in five of the world’s poorest people living with disability, we can see that there is a cycle of poverty and disability. People with a disability often face discrimination and must overcome barriers in people’s attitudes and society’s systems to access the same opportunities as others in their community. This means people with disabilities are often denied access to education or employment opportunities or even basic services like health care. 

    Due to unsafe environments, poor healthcare and nutrition, people living in poverty are also more likely to acquire a disability. We can see here how disability is both a cause and a consequence of poverty.
    It’s important to know that this cycle exists, but also that it can be broken.

    The best people to explain this are those who have experienced and overcome the cycle of poverty and disability themselves.
    This International Day you can take the opportunity to listen to the story of someone living with disability in a developing country.  

    Take a moment to hear some of the stories..  you’ll be amazed at what you learn.

    To learn more about the link between poverty and disability, visit End the Cycle and sign the petition.

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    Chelsea Huggett is an Inclusive Development Intern with CBM, one of our agency partner organisations.