December 3rd is the International Day of People with Disabilities. Lucy Daniel, Policy Officer from CBM Australia, talks about how this day can make a difference in your life and in the lives of others.
One day can make a big difference. A single event or decision can change the direction of your life from that time on.
One of my big “days that made a difference” came when I decided to stop being a family lawyer and work with CBM Australia, advocating for the rights of people with disabilities in developing countries. This led to whole lot more change, as I began hearing many more stories of people who have experienced much bigger changes in their lives than my right-hand career path turn.
One such person is Edwin Kuki.
Edwin Kuki was born in the Solomon Islands in 1942. A big day that made a difference for him was in 1952, when he contracted polio. This left him unable to walk—meaning that for nearly sixty years, Edwin has faced all sorts of challenges, and innovated ways to overcome these.
Hearing this made a big difference for me. Firstly, it showed me how important it is to fight polio – the Global Poverty Project’s campaign to eradicate the disease is absolutely essential to preventing disability.
It also showed me how people with disabilities are often excluded from society, such as when other people discriminate against them because of incorrect assumptions about what they can or can’t achieve. Or when other people simply don’t think about the effect that things they are doing have on people with disabilities—like when the village planned to put a water pipe far away so that Edwin would not be able to access it.
Hearing about this exclusion that Edwin has experienced is all the more powerful when he also describes how the village changed their plans and brought the water pipe close to his house so that he could access it, and how the children help him to the health care centre whenever he asks. This showed me that people with disabilities should not and do not have to be excluded from society– so long as we all think about how the things that we’re doing effect people with disabilities, and make an effort to include them.
This is what International Day of People with Disabilities on 3 December is all about: raising awareness of the experiences of people with disabilities—both good and bad—and celebrating all that they achieve and contribute to society.
One day can make a big difference. And that’s what I’m challenging you to do this International Day of People with Disabilities: Watch Edwin’s story. Find out more about the experiences of people with disabilities in developing countries, and the cycle of poverty and disability. Add your voice to the growing number of people signing the pledge to stand up with people with disabilities for their rights to end this cycle.
Make International Day of People with Disabilities make a difference in your life and in the lives of others.
If you would like to find out more about disability, poverty and development issues, you can visit and sign the pledge at www.endthecycle.org.au or follow @endthecycleaus on Twitter.
Global Poverty Project is an endorsing partner of the End the Cycle campaign.