Rabina was born with cerebral palsy. With support from HI and the ENGAGE Project, she now lives a more independent and dignified life and can access to education. | © Suman Buda / HI
Meet Rabina from Nepal. Rabina is a determined young woman who, with support from HI and the ENGAGE Project, now lives a more independent and dignified life.
Rabina, 19, was born with cerebral palsy. She lives in Banke, a district of western Terai in Nepal. As a girl with disabilities from a poor family, she was unable to go to school, especially since her parents were unaware children with disabilities could access education. Disability is stigmatised by families and communities like hers, and there are no disability-friendly schools in her area. As a result, for years she lacked both mobility and education.
That is, until when she met a community officer working with the Empowering a New Generation of Adolescent Girls with Education (ENGAGE) project1, managed by HI and VSO2 along with local partners in Nepal. The project seeks to empower up to 2,340 highly marginalised, girls who are not enrolled in school – including girls with disabilities – through education across three districts in Nepal’s Terai region.
The team met Rabina as a potential project beneficiary. In a medical camp organised by the project, teams assessed Rabina’s needs and provided her with a wheelchair and toilet chair along with training in how to use them correctly. She will shortly receive another, custom-made wheelchair that will help her move around even more easily. A community officer also paid regular visits to her home. After a series of discussions and counselling, they convinced her parents to let Rabina join an intermediate class to empower her to join school in the near future. The project assisted her by supplying her with the necessary learning materials.
“Thanks for supporting me with a wheelchair, a toilet chair and education - they really made a difference to my life” said Rabina. “Thank you for providing counselling to my parents. They started to see me as their daughter with a future and have helped me learn.”
“I think that many people with disabilities in our community are still deprived of their rights and the support they need to gain their independence. They need to be involved in projects like ENGAGE, which can be life-changing for them,’ she added.
“Rabina’s life has changed a lot since she joined the ENGAGE project. She had never been to school and was totally illiterate. Now I feel very happy for her because she can use a mobile, read her lessons and write,” says Suman, a community officer who met and worked with Rabina from the beginning.
Rabina has now completed her intermediate class. She has basic literacy skills and has shown a strong interest in drawing and art. She has started to regain her self-confidence and wants to go to school to take her learning a step further. She will be integrated into a mainstream school, where children with and without disabilities learn and play together, after consultation with the school authorities.
Rabina and her parents used to be stigmatised by the local community and her relatives because of her physical impairment. Since her condition improved, and now that her studies are going well, the attitude of her family and community has changed. They see her as a woman with ambitious plans for the future. Her parents are pleased with the progress Rabina has made. They have taken part in a support-skill training programme run by the project. The training helped them draw up an action plan on daily living skills for Rabina. People in her community now invite her to various social activities and rituals. This means Rabina is more involved in her local community, and she feels more confident than ever!