(December 04, 2005)
Around 625 children and as many as 300 volunteers gathered for the event under the banner “Walk for the deaf and ” organised by the Smile Foundation, a voluntary organisation that together with various non governmental organisation (NGO’s) in support of children’s health, and empowerment.
Children from various NGO-run funded by the foundation, carrying placards and posters marched down the streets of the capital to spread awareness and seek true freedom and empowerment for the physically and mentally challenged in the country.
“The main purpose of this walk for deaf-blind children, is to spread awareness and work for their rehabilitation and education. In India, we are lagging behind as far as disabled rights are concerned and mainly in deaf and blinds. We do not have the kind of awareness regarding deaf and blind, that we see in other developed countries. So, this is the main objective here,” said Sandip Nayak, Communication Officer, Smile Foundation.
Meanwhile, in Bhubaneshwar, the physically challenged observed the day by celebrating it with colours and staging a street play portraying their problems, needs and demands.
The differently-abled citizens greeted one another and the public with yellow and blue coloured powder sending out a cheerful message.
“We celebrate it to tell people, to tell society that the life of a disabled person is not a very dull life. It also a life, full of love, full of joy, full of colours and lots of happiness,” said Sruti Mohapatra, Secretary, Swabhimaan, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that organised the event.
Tapaswami Mohanty, a physically challenged girl said, “Disabled people have low self-esteem and think they cannot do anything. They should come forward and think they are no less than normal people.”
World Disability Day holds immense significance for the disability sector. It is a day to take stock of the achievements of the past year. It is also a good chance to bring the needs, concerns and rights of persons with disability into the national limelight.
Government estimates say about six percent of the country’s more than a billion population are disabled.
Recent estimates say over 50 percent of the disabled end up with mental challenges due to poor health care and social stigma attached to it and all too often their lives go hand in hand with poverty, isolation and despair.