Friday, September 19, 2008

Disability as Death Sentence in Nepal

I’ve talked before about cultural aspects of disability.

Some cultures view disability as just another characteristic on the continuum of human diversity. Other cultures, unfortunately, view any form of disability as negative and something to be avoided.

I’ve also addressed the idea that for many people with disabilities, where they happen to live can often be the difference between getting all kinds of help and advocacy and other places where, exclusively because of their disability, they are ignored, oppressed, abused, and yes, even killed.

The grim list of horrors is almost endless.

When cultural prejudice and a hostile geographical location intersect, having a disability can be a death sentence.

Like in Nepal.

Nepalese with disabilities are below the bottom of the social pecking order. They are abused, ostracized, neglected, segregated.

I could try to tell you their story, but, instead, want you to listen to the story of Ramah, and others, whose existence literally depends on the kindness of strangers.

Deborah Strong works in Nepal. She lives in Katmandu. She moves among Nepal’s citizens in villages, towns, and deep in the jungle.

It was Deborah who, several years ago, saved Ramah from certain death, from a murder planned simply to rid the village of someone with a disability.

Disability in Nepal, out of sight, out of mind.

Let’s start to change that.

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