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Creating a ‘ripple effect’ of change

Villagers sitting under a tree
© CBM India
Manju Dongare, 30, is a woman with disability who has been working as a field worker in a CBM supported project called the Inclusive Holistic Development of Individuals with Disabilities (IHDID)

Manju Dongare, 30, is turning her struggle as a woman with disability into a source of inspiration by working to empower people with disabilities in the Amravati District of Maharashtra.

Manju acquired poliomyelitis at the age of two leading to a frail constitution and muscular weakness. She recalls being referred to as ‘sick and skinny’ by people around her. This stereotyping was a result of low awareness in a largely tribal community and created a low self-esteem in her mind.

While the family left no stone unturned for providing the best treatment they could manage, Manju preserved against attitudinal barriers and her physical condition to get a graduation degree in education. 

“Women with disabilities are mostly hidden in their homes and subjected to even greater neglect and discrimination,” says Manju. 

“Men with disabilities still manage to go out of their homes and seek work for making a living,” she adds, highlighting how disability impacts men and women differently in terms of opportunities and perceptions.

Finding a new mission in life

Manju standing out side her house ©CBM India
Manju feels that women with disabilities face even greater neglect and discrimination
Manju’s story is of collective and inclusive efforts not just to address rehabilitation and health needs of people with disabilities but also of supporting them to emerge as active members to change perceptions and attitudinal barriers in their communities.

CBM India has been implementing a unique project for empowering people with disabilities through improved access to health, education and livelihood opportunities with a focus on ensuring full participation in their community. The project is called the Inclusive Holistic Development of Individuals with Disabilities (IHDID) and it is being implemented with its partner The Kothara Hospital of The Leprosy Mission Trust.

For the past three years Manju has been on a mission to be a part of empowering people with disability and also to emerge as a champion of disability rights in the community. She works as a field worker with IHDID. 

“I get to work with people with disabilities and support them in getting benefits of schemes. People who used to find it difficult to speak up are now expressing their needs and dreams,” she said.

“People with disabilities are now taking loans to buy goats and other small assets to start earning. I can feel the growing sense of independence and empowerment among them,” she added.   

Talking about her transformation, she talks about trainings and exposure she has received through the CBM supported project.

“I have taken part in a number of trainings and traveled across the country. Recently another CBM partner was here (Amravati) to train us on inclusive organic agriculture,” she said.


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