The estimated one billion people living with disabilities worldwide face barriers to inclusion in many key aspects of society. As a result, people with disabilities do not enjoy access to society on an equal basis with others, which includes areas of transportation, employment, education as well as social and political participation. (Source: UN)
The inclusion of disability in the newly agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a huge step forward for the global development agenda. The preceding Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) did not mention disability. The MDGs helped to direct aid flow towards a set of priorities and the absence of disability in the MDGs meant that people with disabilities did not benefit from development. People with disabilities were left behind. However, moving forward with the new Sustainable Development Goals shows a more positive outlook. Disability is referenced in many parts of the SDGs and specifically in parts related to education, growth and employment and inequality.
There are an estimated 21 million people living with a disability in India.
In India, SERVE works with the Association of People with Disability (APD). APD has been working in the city of Bangalore since 1959 to facilitate the needs of seriously disabled people, to recognise their potential and help rebuild their lives. SERVE has been working with APD since 2007.
Mr. Hemanth attended APD for regular therapy sessions and to attend school. Despite his disability, his dream is to become a film maker.
This is his story.
“I was born in Mallaya hospital in Bangalore. It was my mother who realised that I have problems. We were sad to learn that I had Cerebral Palsy (CP). My mother did everything for me. I came to APD for therapy while attending a regular community school. At regular school I was abused so much. I cannot say verbally the abuse I received. I told my mother I did not want to go to school. I even contemplated suicide. I told her that I would die if I was asked to go to school. Upon hearing this, my mother placed me in APD’s school programme. I studied there from my 7th grade. I really enjoyed being in APD. I made friends and learned different languages. After failing in some subjects, I moved to Ashrama – the rural “back to education” programme run by APD and supported by SERVE. I was taught so well. I do not have anything negative to say, there was nothing I disliked in Ashrama. The teachers were great. I wrote my Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) in 2013 and passed. I then joined Alameen college and did my Pre University Course (PUC). When I completed my PUC, I stood in the line to apply for college. The principle called me and accepted me, and now I am attending Christ College. I am sponsored by a multinational company and when I finish they will give me a job. I want to be a Charted Accountant or a Film Maker. I want to be film maker because people think how a person with CP can be film maker, I want to show them that I can be a film maker. I have not yet decided between the two, but I know that I want to do something different”.
Note: With regards to the Education Programme for Disabled out of School Children run at APD’s Anand Ashram centre, SERVE provided running costs, facilitation and monitoring support from 2011 to 2015. The main aim of this Programme is to “empower children who are disabled and out of school, and living in rural communities, to attend either mainstream education, vocational training or alternative education programmes“.