Kaddus is a disability rights leader from Bangladesh and has been working with ADD since 2001. Kaddus first joined an ADD supported self-help group and is now president of an organisation of disabled persons in his district federation. His work currently focuses on helping disabled people who are unemployed, illiterate, or dropped out of formal education to receive training and income-generation opportunities. Here he shares his perspective on the relationship between ADD and his activism.
Becoming a Disability Rights Leader.
“As a leader I have visited many organisations and participated in many programmes. The way ADD works with disabled people and their organisations is very unique.
I was born from my mother but it was ADD that helped me to come out of my home, who gave me capacity and confidence to speak about disability rights in public places, with government officials.
ADD International brought the message of freedom, the message of rights for disabled people. They brought me out of my home. They helped me learn how to exercise and achieve my rights. They provided every support, from financial to technical, so that we can now run our organization. Before joining ADD International I was worried about my future. What shall I do? How will I employ myself? Will I be able to work in my lifetime? I can now say I am President of this disability federation. Now I know I have the right to live in this world.
ADD helped me realise my self-dignity. When I joined an organisation of disabled persons, I realised I was a human being, that I have the right to live in this society.
Other organisations do not help disabled people in this way. They just organise a programme but this does not help disabled people over the long term. ADD is like another mother for us in civil society. Now I can move, now I can speak. Without ADD I can not do these things.
Before joining an organisation of persons with disabilities, when I went to talk to local government officers, the guard would give me 10 daka [Bangladeshi currency] and tell me to leave. I felt very bad. I could not express my emotions or my needs. Now I can. Not just for myself but for my community too, for other disabled people.
Now I try to help other disabled people to become another Kaddus but I can not reach everyone who needs help.
I do not have the money or the resources. My capacity is limited. At this moment, a disabled person has called me from another police station to help them but I can not go there. If I had more money then I could go and give my support.
Myself and other disability leaders, want to give our support. But we need more money to reach everyone that needs us. This is why the kind of support ADD gives us is so important and why we need to find more of it.
Commitment and courage.
Commitment and courage are important. Unity brings courage. As a disability rights leader I can play my role of assertion because of my strength. What strength? My group contains nearly 4,000 members.
It’s a long journey, this is a movement and we travel one step forward but there are still many things that are needed to be done.
Today I have a voice, I can assert myself. If ADD International were not here I would not have such a voice.
We don’t want your mercy, we want our rights.
The community’s attitude towards the disabled used to be that we put forward our palms to beg. But now they know we are stretching our hands forward to say, ‘hold my hand, I want to cross the road by myself, I just need some help from you.’ That’s why we have written a slogan ‘Not Charity, But Rights’.
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