Imagine sitting at home without a job despite being a graduate, shunned by neighbours and friends, and with no confidence to carry on with life – all because you have a physical disability.
26-year-old Mamta Gulabrao Kubade had no hope in life. She had met with an accident when she was eight years old, and that left her leg burnt. It resulted in deformity in her lower limb. Despite her disability, she completed her graduation. Job opportunities were rare and she had no confidence to seek out one. Confined to her home in Kothara village of Maharashtra, her days were dreary and nights insomnious. Her self-esteem plummeted to a new low every day.
Self-help is the best help. Coming from an impoverished background, Pushpa Devi started her education at the age of 41 to become an epitome of success for her community and is continuing to set an example for others to follow.
The Bard’s words of wisdom proved right again in another place and another time – around 8,500 km away from where the Bard lived, in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu, in 2017. The Leprosy Mission Trust India’s (TLMTI) SOAR project (SOAR stands for ‘Securing Opportunities towards Advancing Revenue’), while doing a survey in Rubanarayanallur village in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu to identify persons with disabilities who need project support for livelihood, came across six women, either with disabilities or having children with disabilities. For these women, the challenges of disability and the social exclusion were not the only problems.
Dr Amrita Daniel, an orthopaedic surgeon working in TLM Faizabad Hospital, in Uttar Pradesh tells how Chand Ali, a 61-year-old man, who consulted her with leprosy-related foot drop and severe ulcer was brought back to normal life.
Married at an early age of 13, Nazma was sent back to her parent’s home in Rasoolpanah village, in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh, by her husband. This was after two months of marriage as he suspected she had some disease as she was thin and anaemic. “When I came back home, I faced a lot of problems. I had just one set of clothes with me. I used to wash them and wear it every day,” says Nazma