Better tomorrow for people with disabilities ...
The International Disability Day falls on December 3 every year, and
it is widely commemorated by people with disabilities throughout the
world. According to the UN definition, a disability is any restriction
or lack of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the
range considered normal for a human being. It is estimated that more
than 10 percent of the Sri Lanka population suffer from psychological,
physiological or anatomical disabilities. Living in a very competitive
social system, people with disabilities face many difficulties in the
It is well realized that people with physiological disabilities
suffer from mental illnesses due to social disgrace which is loaded on
to minds of these innocent human beings. Not only the people with
disabilities but also their families show an outstanding withdrawal from
the society as a result of this social disgrace. For instance, seeing a
person with a disability when someone starts a journey is considered as
ominous in Sri Lanka. But, due to dedication of governmental and
non-governmental organizations, discrimination against people with
disabilities have been decreased.
Although contribution of the government and NGOs to build up a better
environment for people with disabilities to live happily and get their
needs well-satisfied is highly commendable, it is noteworthy that
inclusion of people with disabilities in the decision making process has
not reached a praiseworthy level yet. Infact solutions for problems of
this specific group are decided by normal people. However, moving ahead
from the charity based model towards the right-based model has become a
significant improvement in social and welfare service provision in
current Sri Lanka.
The dark side of most of charities operated in Sri Lanka is that
people with disabilities are being used as a market object to raise
funds from national and international donors. A very small amount of so
collected funds are expended for the well being of people with
disabilities and a larger part is used for luxurious living of charity
owners and officers.
The writer, being disabled from the childhood and having worked in
many years in several private charities, has experienced this well. The
slogan of such charities is “we are dedicated for the betterment of
people with disabilities”, but their actual aim is collecting funds to
ease their luxurious living. It seems that Sri Lanka government has not
taken due measures to avoid such frauds and enhance transparency of
activities led by such institutes.
New leaders must be created among people with disabilities for
addressing their own problems and political representation of people
with disabilities must be promoted. Activities of charities should be
frequently inspected to avoid malfunctions, marketing disability and
fraud of funds. Also, in management positions of charities, leaders with
disabilities must be included for ensuring a better service. The
intervention of the government is inevitable for this.