Mymensingh, an urban area in central Bangladesh.
Protibondhi Community Centre, a Christian agency working to claim rights for people with disabilities and their families.
Many people in Bangladesh are deeply suspicious of disability. Some believe that it is a punishment for wrong-doings, and even that it is contagious. People with disabilities can find it almost impossible to get jobs when there are plenty of people without disabilities available, children can be excluded from school, or not want to go because they will be teased. The suspicion often extends to other family members and parents of children with disabilities face extreme social pressure and marginalisation.
The Community Based Rehabilitation for Disabled People (CBRDP) project is working to break down those barriers, and provide people with disabilities and their families a way to support themselves, build self-confidence, and become respected in the community. This project is working to:
- set up and support self-help, giving people with disabilities a voice in the community.
- provide business training for people in the groups to help them earn an income.
- train people in kitchen gardening and raising poultry for food and extra income.
- set up playgroups for children with and without disabilities to play together, to help break down stereotypes and social barriers.
- provide medical and health monitoring visits to homes. Some people will receive physiotherapy, whilst others, particularly children, will receive training in completing simple tasks like getting dressed, to help them become independent.
- help people understand the services available, and their rights in the community.
Ajgar had a good life. Working in a furniture shop he was able to provide for his family... until he had an accident at work.
When Ajgar injured his foot, the village doctor treated him but the wound became badly infected and his lower leg was amputated. He lost his job and was no longer able to provide for his family. Depression began to set in for Ajgar as he felt he had lost his standing in the community and had no future.
Ajgar and his family struggled for six years, until Ajgar heard about the CBRDP project. Through the project he joined a group of people with disabilities who were receiving business training and pooling their savings. Within two years he had built up his business skills, and took a loan through the group to start a roadside tea and grocery stall with his wife.
Business is now thriving, and Ajgar has regained his self-confidence and chats happily with the people who visit his stall. He says that thanks to the project, "we are able to have a very good life, we are so happy!"