A photo essay exhibition about disabled people in India aims to bust stereotypes
From a deaf tea stall owner in Assam to a physically disabled tailor in Nagaland, a photo exhibition about disabled people across India called Everyone is Good at Something is documenting their everyday lives. By portraying the ordinary lives of people with disabilities as they pursue their dreams, the project strives to shatter stereotypes about disabled people.
Disability stereotypes are varied – from handicapped or spastic to wheelchair-bound or inspiring. People rarely consider the individual or their dreams.
Vicky Roy‘s photo essay about disabled people in India aims to change that. Everyone is Good at Something (EGS) is a project that tells the stories of people, their challenges, and their dreams. So far, Roy has visited 11 states and two union territories and he aims to visit every state.
“My objective is to focus on the person and not the disability”, says Roy. “I want to show them as regular human beings who are pursuing their dreams despite the challenges they face”.
Photo exhibition about disabled people captures daily lives
Over the past six months, Roy has traveled throughout India despite the restrictions imposed by Covid. The response he has received so far has touched him. “Everyone has been so positive and welcoming. They are so happy that someone has come to their home to take their photographs and share their stories”.
Roy wants to combat the stigma disabled people face across India through his photographs. “I hope to influence policy and inspire future studies about the plight of disabled people and the issues that affect them”, he says.
The eventual goal of this photo exhibition about disabled people is to publish 15,000 stories representing every state. It’s am ambitious one amid the pandemic, but Roy and EGS co-founder V R Ferose, founder of India Inclusion Foundation, believe that the message conveyed by the photo exhibition is important and especially needed in these times.
Most of the narrative and coverage around disability in India has been urban-centric. Through EGS we want to put the spotlight on persons with disabilities across India, and we also want to convey it through photo stories in multiple languages. We are currently translating all the content so that the message of inclusion can be reached across all segments in society. We also believe in times of COVID, where there is grim news all around us, EGS will provide an uplifting message for everyone. – V R Ferose, Co-founder, Everyone is Good at Something
Focus on disabled people in rural India
The bulk of the photographs are of ordinary people living everyday dreams. Some are well-known names, but many are not. Among Roy’s favorites is Gobinda Majumdar, a deafblind and speech-impaired 37-year-old from Assam’s Kamrup district.
“Gobinda’s village is in the interior, so there is no pucca road, so I had to walk quite a distance”, recalls Roy, who was impressed by Gobinda’s knowledge of his village and his skills at using his hand as a means of communication. “He touched the shape of my camera with his fingers and snapped a picture. He is lively, curious, and resourceful.
Ferose believes there are some universal lessons to be learned from each story featured in this photo exhibition about disabled people. “Family and community support is the key to inclusion. Mostly in rural India, where the infrastructure is not available, it’s the family that goes outside the realm of possibility to make people with disabilities feel included. And, being meaningfully employed is a huge challenge. Small micro-loan or financial support can make a huge impact”.
EGS also tries to financially support some of the people featured in the stories. “We bought a sewing machine for Vikengunu Fatima Kera, a tailor from Nagaland’s Kohima district. We welcome the help of donors”, says Ferose.
Click here to read the stories featured until now in Everyone is Good at Something.
Photos featured in this article are from the EGS site.
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