MYAGDI, Oct 23: Gori Darji was leading a normal life until nine years ago. One fateful day, the local of Beni municipality- 9 fell off a tree and became crippled. That incident changed her life forever.
“It was a severe accident. I lost one leg,” reminisces Darji. “I changed into a 'disabled' person overnight. People started looking down upon me after that,” she said.
Darji found it very hard to cope with the new challenges. The work which she used to do earlier was extremely difficult as she was left with just one leg. However, she was not going to give up easily.
“Soon after I became a disabled, I thought to overcome the pessimism. Though it was very hard to gather such courage, I started making public appearances and contributing to the society on my own way,” she said.
Her frequent appearance in the meetings and several programs soon made her widely noticed. Darji, who used to be a shy person in the past, started being clearly vocal about women's empowerment. She would raise voice for the people with disabilities.
She was soon a popular figure in her locality, thanks to her growing contribution to the society. In the first phase of the local level elections, Darji was elected as a ward member from CPN-UML. Now, she is one of the active team members to plan for the development of her ward as well as the municipality.
However, according to the National Federation of the Disabled, Nepal (NFDN), representation of people with disability in state mechanisms as guaranteed by the constitution has been ignored by the political parties. There is no accurate data available on how many disabled people got nominated for and elected in the local level elections. NFDN says 'it is very low'.
Dorji is not the only person in the district who is living a dignified and inspiring life despite being differently abled. Krishna Prasad Shrestha of Banepa- 8, who had lost his leg in an ambush during the insurgency era, runs a shop and makes a good earning.
“Everything turned sad in life after I lost my leg. But you have to move on, no matter what,” he says, sounding no less confident. “With the support of my family and some organizations, I restarted my life with equal zeal,” he added.
Susan Bhandari of the same locality had lost her leg while she was a child. As she was from a well-off family, she could pursue her education without much obstruction. Today, a bachelor's degree student in management stream, Bhandari lives without a trace of regret about her life.
“When you accept things, it becomes easier. I am educated and I am capable of leading a good life. I am happy just like any other person,” she said. “I want to bring positive changes in others' life too,” she added. Bhandari who dreams to get through civil service examination and become a government officer one day, urges people like her to come forward without hesitation and make an impression in the society.
“There is no need to feel low about yourself due to your physical differences. What matters is your spirit and hard work,” she noted.
Both Bhandari and Shrestha are found actively involved in sharing their views and experiences during programs conducted for people with disabilities. They demand for the disabled-friendly infrastructure under the new local authorities.
Meanwhile, Darji asks 'normal' people to be cooperative. “With little support from the government and society, people with several kinds of disabilities can live a far better life. However, general attitude of people toward the people like us has not changed yet. Under the new local government, such problems must be addressed and I strongly voice for it,” she said.