Published On: April 25, 2018 12:24 PM NPT By: Sonam Lama

Life beyond inches

Life beyond inches

KATHMANDU, April 25: 33-year-old Nirmal Makranti had a different outlook of life when he ran away with a half-paralyzed body from his village at Gorkha to Kathmandu. Carrying a 50-rupee note, the 17-year-old then followed his instincts and hoped to live at his own will. The night not only marked a new beginning in his life but exposed him to numerous hardships and uncertainties in the journey ahead. Struggling for about 15 years now, he works as a performer at Nirmaya Dohori Sanjh and is the president of Dwarf Association of Nepal.

47-year-old Jack Gurung has leaped far out of his comfort zone. Learnt cycling at an early age and being the first license holder, he now commutes to work in his 4-wheeled scooter. He came to Kathmandu from Nawalparasi in 2044 and started working at a manpower company in Godavari. However, the salary from the company was not sufficient to run the family of four including his wife and two children. So he sought foreign employment in Dubai. After his 8 years of stay there, he returned and joined the company that he previously worked. There, he has been working as a manager since. Despite experiencing numerous crest and troughs of life, he seeks the courage to face challenges head on and looks forward to driving a four-wheeler in near future.

The situation was quite in favor of 22-year-old Yasoda Shah as she got the opportunity to go to school and learn about herself at an early age. Originally from Dhading, she came to Kathmandu in 2003 to continue her study after Maoists destroyed the school in her village. Currently working as the treasurer of Dwarf Association of Nepal, she has recently completed bachelor’s degree examination in commerce from Public Youth Campus in Kathmandu. “I have plans to study further as much as I can. We don’t have a PhD holder yet in our group so I want to become the first to hold a PhD,” said shah.

Dwarfism is a medical or a genetic condition defined as the unusual adult body stature of less than 4 ft 10 inches. The causes of proportionate dwarfism include metabolic and hormonal disorders. As per the definition of Nepal Disability Act of 2017, disability is defined as any type of physical, cognitive, intellectual, and sensory or any other impairment that affects a person’s life activities. Thus, dwarfism comes under a form of disability as per the act. However, some groups among the little people come up with a different viewpoint regarding them being included under the group of disability.

As per the former president of Dwarf association, Loknath Dhakal, little people have been benefitted from the approach that has been adopted by including them under persons with disability group. “Having belonged to a minority group the rights of little people were not addressed well by the state government before. However, it was only after we were included under groups with disability that our rights were protected,” said Dhakal.

Talking on a similar note, Sundari Mishra, president of Kriyashil Hochapudka Mahila Sangh, rather emphasized on opening few more associations to address the voices of many other little people who are yet to come forth. “We only have three associations across the country till date with dim networks. I believe we need to make efforts spreading out as far as we can,” said Mishra. 

Meanwhile, little people like Makranti, Shah and Gurung believe that the efforts of little people like them are overshadowed when they are included under persons with disability group. 

“Being capable of every activity, I think all we need is right resources to mitigate those barriers to perform our works in a smooth manner. As the head of the family I fulfill my responsibility like a normal person does, but whenever I set out to perform my duties like paying electricity or telephone bill, I feel that I am not unable but rather the situation has not been feasible for me,” said Gurung. “We surely have progressive laws on disability and we have so far been benefitted as well but I personally believe that little people can be more independent if they are provided with ample resources that they require,” added Gurung.

The social model of disability says that disability is caused by the way society is organized, rather than by the person’s impairment or difference. It looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices for disabled people. “The Disability Act of Nepal 2017 is progressive and has come up with various provisions to safeguard the rights and to improve the situation of persons with disability. However, the idea of inclusion and equality can only draw effective outcomes when the change initially occurs in the society’s mindset and behavior,” said Shiva Aacharya, project coordinator at Humanity & Inclusion, previously known as Handicap International. 

“Generally, persons with disability are subjected to pity depending on their plight and physicality or regarded with excessive awe. The displeasing fact is that they are hardly behaved normally which is also a barrier that affects them to stretch out of their limits,” added Aacharya.

life, beyond, inches,

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