Rabina doing her school work in her wheelchair
© Suman Buda for Humanity & Inclusion

Supporting girls with disabilities access education

This International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), meet Rabina from Nepal. Rabina's strong willpower, combined with support from the ENGAGE project, means she now lives a more independent and dignified life.

Rabina, 19, was born with disability in Banke, a western Terai district in Nepal. Rabina could never attend school because of poverty and disability. Her parents never thought that children with disabilities, like her, could ever go to school and learn. In the communities like her disability is stigmatized by family and well as communities. Additionally, there was no disability friendly school in the area. Over the years, she lacked mobility and education.

That is until when she met a community mobiliser working with Empowering a New Generation of Adolescent Girls with Education (ENGAGE) project. The project has been supported from the UK Aid’s Girls Education Challenge Fund and has been managed by VSO and Humanity & Inclusion along with local partners in Nepal. The project seeks to empower up to 2,340 highly marginalised, out-of-school girls – including those with disabilities – through education across three districts in Nepal’s Terai region.

The team met Rabina as one of the potential beneficiaries of the project. Through a medical camp organized by the project, Rabina was assessed with her needs and provided wheelchair and toilet chair with required training on its proper use. The community mobilizer frequently visited her home. Post to series of discussions and counseling her parents were convinced to let Rabina join the bridge class, to empower her to join school in near future. The project supported her with required learning materials.

Thanks to supporting me with a wheelchair and a toilet chair, this really made a difference in my life. I was mentored by a community mobiliser for my learning and personal hygiene needs. Thank you for providing counselling to my parents. They started to see me as their daughter of hope and helped me to learn.

Rabina

“I think that many persons with disability in our communities are still deprived of their rights and support that they needed for their independence. They should be linked with the projects like ENGAGE that can be life changing for them,’ she added.

‘There has been significant changes in Rabina’s life after she became a part of ENGAGE project. Rabina has never been to school in her life and was completely illiterate. Now, I feel very happy for her because she can use mobile, read lessons and write about her family, friends and herself,” said, Suman, a community mobilizer who met and worked with Rabina from the beginning.

By this time, Rabina has completed her bridge class and now has basic literacy (reading and writing) skills with strong interest in drawing and art. She has started regaining her self-confidence and wants to join school for further learning. She will be integrated into a mainstream school, where children with and without disabilities learn and play together, after the consultation with the school authorities.

Rabina and her parents were stigmatized by the community and her relatives before because of her physical impairment. However, as her condition has been improved and she is studying well, her family and community have shifted their attitudes. They see her as a girl with full of ambitions. Her parents are happy with the change they have seen in Rabina. Her parents were participated in a support skill training provided by the project. The training helped them develop an action plan on daily living skills for Rabina. Community people invite her to various social activities and rituals. This has increased Rabina’s social participation and boosted her confidence more than ever.

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