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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

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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 day-to-day life.

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.

 

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