Nisha, a young girl with a disability, and her family

Breaking down stereotypes of people with disabilities

15-year-old Nisha is a resident of Sakraul, Nepal. She lives with a disability as her right leg is smaller than her left leg and is bent upward meaning she has difficulty in walking. People in her community used to call her names which hurt her feelings and broke her confidence down. Now she's returned to school and the community sees that she can do anything.

A difficult start

Nisha on her way to school.

She vividly remembers her father fighting against the community’s stereotypical belief that people with disabilities cannot achieve anything in life. Her father was very protective of her and had even sold some property to treat her leg. Unfortunately, no treatment has helped her to date.

Nisha’s parents have a progressive mindset. They admitted her to school at grade one as they wanted to see her grow and achieve remarkable things in life, but Nisha had no interest and didn't regularly attend. It was difficult for her to walk back and forth to school as her legs would hurt while walking.

At that time, she did not have a school uniform or bag and had few books and stationery to write. She was also bullied in school. Due to this, Nisha repeated grade one three times and finally was upgraded to grade two when her father appealed to the school to upgrade her.

Unleashing the power of education to tackle discrimination 

Powered by your support, VSO has helped Nisha through the Empowering a New Generation of Adolescent Girls with Education (ENGAGE) project, funded by the FCDO.

The major objective of the ENGAGE project is to empower 10 to 19 years old out of school girls and children with disabilities to transition to formal education by developing their basic literacy and numeracy skills.

Nisha in the classroom
Nisha attending school in Nepal.

In 2019, the ENGAGE project used a tool to verify children with functional limitation through a door-to-door survey to select the primary actors.

Nisha who has a physical disability was selected. She was then taken to medical verification camp, organised by the ENGAGE project in collaboration with the local government, where the medical team verified her disability.

After that she joined a one-year bridge class along with 22 marginalised girls, where she learnt literacy and numeracy skills. She started reading and writing at a basic level and gradually built up to reading full books. Initially, her condition was extremely critical, but her progress skyrocketed in time due to her resilience and drive. She went on to come first in every exam taken at the bridge class.

The ENGAGE project also helped her to get a government disability card. She now holds a yellow card and can access her rights and entitlements in education, health, employment and transportation.

In 2021, after completing her bridge class, Nisha was enrolled in grade four. The ENGAGE project also supplied her with a school uniform, bag, books and supplies to encourage her to stay in school.

A brighter future

She is now in grade five and scores the second highest grades in her class. Nepali and science are her favourite subjects.

Her interest in learning has increased dramatically. Her father says:

Nisha’s learning ability has developed tremendously and these days, she can speak up for herself without any fear. I feel incredibly happy seeing my daughter progress which will enable her to continue her studies.”

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Nisha has developed confidence and efficacy with her determination and hard work. She has many friends these days who study and play with her. The discrimination and bullying she experienced before has dramatically reduced and her community’s perspective has shifted as she's proven herself academically. They now say Nisha can become anything as she wants in her life. These days Nisha is happy and living dignified life.

Dreaming big 

When Nisha thinks about the future she says, “I aim to become a social worker. I want to empower people who need support or guidance. I have been inspired to become a social worker by reflecting on my own journey.”

Nisha is a leading example that a child with disability, if given an opportunity and right direction, can achieve anything in life.

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