Pushpa, disability rights activist, Bangladesh

Pushpa’s Story.

Pushpa is a member of a self-help group in Bangladesh. She shares the impact that joining an organisation of disabled persons has had on her life.

Facing Discrimination.

“I am 50 years old but I have had to spend my life crawling around like a child. Can you imagine?

I am Pushpa. I live in South Central Bangladesh. I had pneumonia when I was 8 years old, my situation deteriorated drastically and eventually I lost all movement in my legs.

I was married when I was only 12 years old. I had my first child when I was 13; my second when I was 15. As a mother, I couldn’t give my children what they deserve from me. Stigma towards my disability has deprived them of a normal life. They couldn’t study. I had to arrange my son’s marriage when he was only 14 so that his wife could assist me at home.

I rarely went out of the house. The social discrimination that surrounds disability excluded me from society and has left me isolated.

I thought there was no one like me. I still shed tears recalling those days. I couldn’t participate in the decision making process in my family. My husband, son and daughter-in-law took all the decisions. Even if I disagreed with them I didn’t oppose their decisions because I was totally dependent.

Knowing my rights.

I had no awareness of social issues or my rights as a person.

With the help of ADD International, I joined a self-help group and then later a disabled person’s organisation. This engagement with other disabled people has enlightened me. It fills me with a feeling of unity and strength.

Now I speak out in public forums. I don’t feel helpless. The unity of our organisation gives me the strength and hope for a better life.

I want to participate in community and societal matters. I want a voice.

I have learned that the government provides various services and facilities for disabled people, including a disability allowance. There is much more than the government and local councils could do to make my life less challenging, like providing a wheelchair so that I can move around easily.”

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