meet Sony - a 24 years old, strong and independent woman
“Even though I am in a wheelchair, it doesn’t mean I can’t have a normal life. My life is not about disability. It’s just as normal as any other.”
At the age of 3 Sony (now 24) got a very high fever. “She was burning like fire.”, her mother recalls. By the time they got to the hospital, they were too late. Polio. And Sony ended up in a wheelchair. However her life seems limited, it certainly is not. She is a powerful, independent and incredible smart woman. And she is married!
“From the moment I heard about CDMD in 2000 I have tried to get into their program knowing their help would improve my life in many ways. Finally in 2005 -CDMD started to include cross-over disabilities- it happened. First they have helped my mother and me to build a new house. As we were living in a shack with a leaking roof it was our priority.”
With the support of CDMD Sony and her mother were able to create some income through a ‘cow-bank’. Only this wasn’t the most life changing event. “Hearing about the Self Help Groups, that CDMD were setting up, made me very excited. Knowing about other people with disabilities. Working together to help ourselves. Above al, that’s how I have met Buny!”
Being actively included in the life of family and community is integral to a person’s development and identity. The opportunity to participate in social, cultural and religious activities has a strong impact on the quality of a person’s life, self-esteem and social position. For example being a land owner or a wage earner can positively impact on social status, where as being unmarried or childless can negatively impact a person’s status and therefore power within the community. When people with disabilities have the opportunity to fulfill a range of social roles attitudes change. This happened to Sony when she got married to Buny.
“In the beginning when people heard about our plans of getting married, they couldn’t believe it. Two people with disabilities? However on our wedding day many people came and it was if we were one big family. Also seeing our happiness many people were crying tears of joy. And people still express their happiness towards us.” Often Sony and Buny look back at this beautiful day realising what they have is very special. As even normal people might not have such a wonderful marriage, like they do.
“I have become very confident. Not only my marriage and earning my own income has changed my social status and therefor the attitude and perceptions of my community towards myself and people with disability. Being part of the Self Help Group and the training of literacy, leadership and accounting contributed very much. Nowadays people even come to me for help and advise regarding disability issues.”
Sony and Buny are hard working people. They always look for opportunities to generate their own income and live independently. For example selling noodles and curry in front of the house, but even the wheelchair doesn’t withhold Sony to accept work on the rice fields. “We are flexible and take upon any work we can. I want to show people I have brains and can earn my own money. My life is not about disability, it is just as normal as any other.”
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