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Samarthya awards for 2018 highlight the potential in people with disabilities

October 29, 2018

From an initiative that is educating children with disabilities free in rural Bihar to a disabled child who can finally go to school after her village came together to build a road, Samarthya 2018 brought 11 inspiring change-makers with disabilities under the same roof in Chennai.

Samarthya is a brand building event held by the Collective Action for Basic Rights Foundation (CBRF), an organization that has been working to empower disabled people in rural India since 1997.

Through these awards, given annually, CBRF seeks to show India how much people with disabilities can achieve if given the opportunity.

CBRF works across rural India and we have a presence in 19 states and one union territory. We work in these areas through NGO partners and we work with people with all types of disabilities. We have trained our 60 plus NGO partners to include men, women and children with all disabilities. We have reached out to over 80,000 disabled people so far. - Nicholas Guia Rebelo, Director, Collective Action for Basic Rights Foundation (CBRF)

Among those to be honored this year was Padma from Andhra Pradesh, who works as a computer operator in the University of Andhra Pradesh and heads a local disability rights unit. Amazing how much this 27-year-old has been able to achieve given her circumstances growing up.

Padma has a locomotor disability and raised by her grandparents as her parents abandoned her at birth. She grew up in a tribal village and the nearest school was in the city, and required 30 minutes of travel each way.

"Until I was in class 5, my grandparents would carry me every day, but they could not after a while and I had to drop out. I did not have a walker or access to any means of transport. I was at home for a long time until the CBRF came to my support. They gave me a walker, helped me with other facilities needed to continue with my education and I went on to do an MA."

Another awardee, Manoj Kumar, also grew up in rural India. Kumar has started a school and coaching center in his hometown Gaya in Bihar, where children with disabilities are educated for free.

"I was fortunate that my parents did not let locomotor disability come in the way of my getting an education. They moved to the city, so I could study," says Kumar. "But I know how hard it is for disabled children to get the same opportunity, so I have opened a school for kids between classes 1 and seven. For children above class 7, there is a coaching center. The school follows the CBSE curriculum and uniforms and books are given for free. This is my way of encouraging them."

These are people, who have not only overcome the barriers of disability, but are working to enable others in their community. What makes them so remarkable are the odds they have overcome. Odds brought on by poverty, geography and disability.

As Mubarak, a visually impaired shopkeeper from Gorakhpur puts it, "I was born blind and never thought I had a future. The world around me thought the same way. CBRF came to my door and offered to provide me with the means to become independent. Today, people know me well, my business I am doing well, and I have employed people."

Truly empowering accounts of people who have been enabled thanks to the commitment shown by CBRF. To know more about the organization, visit www.cbrf.in.

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