“People like me, we all wish to be treated like every other person, if I were the Prime Minister I would work towards the education and health of people with disabilities”, asserts Ramadevi.
This young woman from the Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh contracted polio at the age of two, a disease that left her with a physical disability and low vision for the rest of her life.
As a child, Ramadevi had no choice but to be at home, doing nothing. Though people in her village cared for her, she always felt rejected. She knew that she did not want to trouble anyone and was determined that, in the future, she would not be dependent on someone all the time.
At the age of ten, Ramadevi entered the sponsorship programme of the Rural Development Trust (RDT), the main partner of the Integrated Development Trust (IDT), and was encouraged to enrol school. She had to crawl all the way to attend classes.
Later on, RDT staff motivated her to learn a trade and work in the IDT workshops. She first joined the papier-mâché workshop but, due to her low vision, she was then moved to the recycled paper unit.
She has finally achieved the independence she wished for; she is now able to take her own decisions.“I am happy to be able to work and to be able to buy the things that I want to”, she saysRamadevi. Her colleagues have become her best friends, they give her the courage to face difficulties in life. They also help her in daily tasks, such as washing or drying clothes.
She visits her village once a month and during festivals. In her family, her father cannot work and her mother is sick and she is able to occasionally support them.She doesn’t realise that her will and strength to work are already an act of activism towards the inclusion of people with disabilities.