Inspiring story of Priya Keer – a 20 years old visually impaired para judo athlete
Priya is visually impaired and lives in the Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh. Her father is a vegetable vendor and her mother is a homemaker. Priya has one sister and three brothers, all her brothers are visually impaired too. Priya studied till class ninth in a school situated in her village but then due to lack of an inclusive environment she dropped out. She shared, “I always wanted to study but lack of supportive environment in school forced me to drop.”
After the team from Dalit Sangh (Sightsavers’ NGO partner) met her, they understood the situation and found that she is very energetic and positive. She shared that she wants to study but in a different school. The only concern raised by her parents was who will accompany her to the high school situated in the nearby village which is 3 km far. Therefore, Priya decided to give private exams.
As Priya was always accompanied by someone wherever she had to go, due to which she wasn’t confident of moving alone. When Priya was told about Self-Defence Instructors’ course, she was very excited. Priya attended the course of eight days, where she learnt all the techniques and developed her vocal capacity. Priya shared, “I always thought that since I cannot see, I can’t travel alone anywhere. Many times it happened that I needed to go somewhere but since I know I can’t go alone I kept waiting for someone to accompany me.”
On the last day of the training, Priya demonstrated all the techniques she learned. She shared her experience with everyone. Self- defence training has given her a different perspective. She says, “Self-defence training has given me the confidence to travel independently. Now I also want to learn Judo and play at National and International levels and earn medals.” Priya aspires to be a Judo Player and Self-Defence Trainer, where she can train young girls to be more confident.
Sightsavers’ Social Inclusion Programme in Madhya Pradesh emphasises on social inclusion of persons with disabilities (PWD) with a special focus on persons with visual impairment (PVI).
Objectives of the programme are (i) to promote economic empowerment of PWDs in the age group of 18-59 years, (ii) to empower PWDs to exercise equal rights and opportunities as non-disabled people, and (iii) to facilitate community and policy environment for ensuring equality of opportunities for PWDs.
Key components of the Social Inclusion Programme include rehabilitation of PWD through economic empowerment through livelihood based skill enhancement and business development services, strengthening collective leadership (disabled people’s organisation-DPO) for securing rights, sensitization, advocacy and collaboration with government and non-government agencies to create enabling environment. The programme focuses on economically weaker sections and on women and girls with disabilities since they have a higher level of marginalization owing to their status
The programme aims to conduct awareness generation activities for the community to support the cause of PWDs as well as improve the awareness of and access to rights and entitlements through training and capacity building of PWDs and OPD (Organisations of Persons with Disabilities) members for undertaking advocacy initiatives at district and State level. It is envisaged to form a district resource group to explore various opportunities for PWDs.
In order to create a favourable policy and community environment, the programme aims to sensitize government and policy-making bodies on the national and international commitment to PWD’s education and employment. Accessibility audit of key administrative infrastructures at block, district and state levels will also be conducted to bring the issue of accessibility in limelight.
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