General sharing of the concept Independent Living (IL) is an ongoing process among the board and staff members of the Independent Living Society-Nepal (ILS). It has strengthened their motivation to remain firm towards the goal of the movement – to bring visible changes in the community.
One day in November, a district seminar on the IL concept and barrier free environment was conducted among the stakeholders for promoting the IL concept and disabled-friendly environment. The Chief Guest was Mr. Chandra Nath Gautam, Deputy District Administration Officer of Kaski District. Representatives of different DPOs like Kaski Blind Association (KAB), Parent's Association of Mentally Retarded (PAMR), Deafblind Association Nepal (DAN), Gandaki Association of the Deaf (GAD), Disability Independence and Development Association (DIDA) Nepal, Inclusion and Empowerment Centre (IEC) Nepal, participated in the program. From various government line agencies, NGOs, Private Sector and Media groups such as Women and Children Office Kaski, Pokhara Sub-metropolitan City Office, Urban Development and Building Construction District Division Office Kaski, District Road Division Office, Office of Armed Police Forces (AFP), Society of Engineering Consultancy Nepal (SECON), Community Support Group (CSG), Press Chautary, Big F.M. radio, Radio Safalta, representatives made a meaningful attendance on the occasion. Mr. Hem Gurung and Ms. Anjana KC presented a paper on accessibility/barrier free environment and the IL concept subsequently during the program. Mr. Hitman Chhantyal delivered a welcome speech and the program was chaired by Mr. Ganga B. Khadka. The program was funded by KIOS, the Finish NGO Foundation, with technical coordination of Independent Living Centre (CIL)-Kathmandu.
|Some glimpses of District Level Seminar on IL Concept and Barrier Free environment.|
Personal Assistants (PAs) of ILS are actively serving disabled people of ILS. One of the Pas, Sudhir san, has performed his best while accompanying Hem during his Kathmandu visit for the visa application process. Similarly, he served Mr. Ganga, the president, while participating in the Annual General Meeting of National Federation of the Disabled (NFD) Nepal that was organized in Hetauda, a city in Nepal. Ranjata san and Jamuna san have also been doing great jobs as a PA for persons with severe disabilities and also in keeping office neat and clean.
ILS made follow up visits to Office of Women and Children and Lions Clubs of Pokhara to make sure they were still committed to install disabled-friendly toilets. But they are trying to escape from the issue making their budgetary shortcomings as a reason. We put pressure on them to build or renovate the toilets friendlier to persons with disabilities.
Furthermore, Anjana san visited District Administration Office, where a ground floor ramp was built at the next corner instead of front entrance. There was a very narrow passage to reach the ramp, which was accompanied by damaged cover of rain water drainage exposing persons with disabilities to a risk. Besides, there was no visible sign, notice or display banner arranged to confirm the availability of the usable ramp. This issue was discussed with District Administration Officer and he assured to replace a new cover of the drainage as well as to get made a notice board about the existing ramp at the corner for public convenience including persons with disabilities.
One of ILS members, Gita san, who is a wheelchair user as a result of spinal cord injury, informed us about being abused by her husband and family in terms of producing legal documents like marriage certificate, citizen identity card and disability identity card. Her proposal for getting assistance in obtaining such documents, which is legally obligatory, was discarded by them saying that it would be none of her business. She accused her husband of not being loyal and sincere to the relationship. In addition, he is reluctant to provide support for producing authentic documents, which prevents her from being able to claim any property to gain share as part of her legal rights in future. She asked ILS to back her up regarding the issue. ILS-Nepal has prepared a recommendation letter related to her issue and conferred with Advocacy Forum and District Women's Rights Defender's Group to take appropriate action for ensuring her inherent rights. The case is on the process to be settled though it seems quite challenging in men; especially non-disabled people dominate society like in Nepal.
|A team of ILS-Nepal visited the office of Advocacy Forum to meet with Chairperson Advocate, Ms. Sarala Pandey, to hand over the recommendation letter to seek support for Gita san|
A team from ILS consisting of Anjana san, Hitman san and Chet san along with Personal Attendants ,Jamuna san and Sudhir san, visited Kalika Higher Secondary School to share the general concepts of disability, PA service, disabled friendly school environment and IL movement in Nepal. Volunteer Ms. Ashika Chand also shared her personal experience while working voluntarily with persons with disabilities through ILS. Sudhir san and Jamuna san shared their feelings and experience on the occasion. The program was aimed at spreading the ideas through younger generations over to overall community to create a society for all.
|An orientation to students by Chet san and wheelchair handling demonstration by PA Sudhir|
The 5 day-long training on ‘proposal and report writing’ was successfully run by ILS-Nepal board members, general members and staffs to provide basic knowledge and skills on writing proposals and reports. The program was supported by 'Planet Urgent'; a French INGO in coordination with CIL Kathmandu. The volunteer of Planet Urgent, Mr. Patrick Descamps, facilitated the sessions and was closely supervised by Ms. Perle Vincent, the Country Representative of the supporting organization.
Executive Board of ILS-Nepal has taken the decision to facilitate Mr. Hem Gurung for visa processing so that he would be able to attend the 3 month long training in Okinawa, Japan. It is believed that he will learn the concept of Independent Living and its practices in Japan fin order to improve leadership capability in terms of leading IL movement at Pokhara, Nepal.
We have been doing our best but still have certain limitations or challenges for proper implementation of our action plan. Followings are the examples:
In December, we will specially focus on observing 'International Day of Disabled People' that annually falls on 3rd December. Likewise, interaction programs with students and administration of the colleges on personal assistance services, peer counseling/family counseling program, barrier free check program, advocacy/lobby program and orientation for school/college students are the targeted actions to be implemented according to the plan.
It was another successful month for ILS-Nepal with respect to implementation of action plan for empowering persons with disabilities and strengthening IL movement in Pokhara, Nepal. The district Seminar on IL Concept and barrier free environment has helped to promote the concept and practices among the stakeholders which we believe has enabled stakeholders to build a clear perspective about IL Concept and barrier free environment. PA mobilization has made daily living activities of persons with severe disabilities easier. Advocacy/lobby has been able to put pressure on the existing social and government system not to overlook the disability issue as a low profile issue though significant changes are still to be achieved. Orientation to school/college has laid a foundation into the conceptual pattern of students towards persons with disabilities. The basic proposal and report writing training has helped the members and staffs of ILS to gain knowledge and skills regarding the topic. Most importantly, ILS-Nepal is grateful to IRUKA Independent Living Center for offering a grand opportunity to Mr. Gurung Hem to learn 'Independent Living Concept and Practices' in Japan. ILS-Nepal is quite hopeful that the opportunity provided to Hem san will strengthen the bilateral and multi-lateral organizational relationship to promote IL Movement in Nepal. Invaluable feedback is much appreciated. We highly acknowledge the kind cooperation of Krishna san; the pioneer of IL Movement in Nepal and CIL-Kathmandu. We would like to express our deep respect to Junko Ohno san for her outstanding role as an excellent facilitator to make everything easier in terms of coordination among ILS-Nepal, CIL Kathmandu and IRUKA. The most appreciated and honourable personality; Reiko Nagai san is ever a wonderful icon of IL Movement to whom we are very much indebted for promoting us to weave a dream to independent living and assisting us to materialize it in local context in Nepal.
Thank you very much to you all.
Mr. Hem BahadurGurung, General Secretary
Ms. Anjana K.C., Treasurer (and 14th Duskin Program Trainee)
Independent Living Society (ILS) Nepal