Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Frustrated Disabled Community in Nagaland

Ngaugongbe (Person with Disability)
Jt. Secretary, Nagaland State Disability Forum

In the picturesque hills of Nagaland, amidst its vibrant culture and traditions, exists a community silently grappling with frustration, the disabled population. While Nagaland has made progress in various aspect of development, the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities remain largely unaddressed. This article aims to shed light on unique struggles encountered by the disabled community in Nagaland, exploring the barriers to inclusion and seeks for meaningful change.
Nagaland, like many other States or regions, grapples with deeply entrenched cultural perceptions and stigma surrounding disability. The traditional beliefs and misconceptions often lead to the marginalisation and exclusion of individuals with disabilities from various aspects of society. The prevailing attitude of pity or indifference towards disability perpetuates feelings of frustration and alienation among the disabled population.
One of the primary frustrations faced by the disabled community in Nagaland is the lack of accessibility. Many public spaces, including Government buildings, schools and transportation facilities, etc, remain inaccessible to individuals with disabilities. The absence of ramps, elevators, and designated parking spaces, etc., poses significant challenges for mobility, hindering their participation in various aspects of daily life. Moreover, inaccessible infrastructure limits employment opportunities and access to essential services, intensify the frustration of the disabled population.
Access to quality education is essential for the empowerment and inclusion of individuals with disabilities. However, in Nagaland, many students with disabilities encounter barriers to accessing education. Limited specialized support services, inaccessible school facilities and lack of awareness among the educators contribute to the marginalisation within the education system. The frustration of being denied equal educational opportunities further perpetuates the cycle of exclusion and hinders their academic and personal development.
Unemployment and underemployment are significant concerns for the disabled community in Nagaland. Despite possessing skills and qualifications, individuals with disabilities often face discrimination and barriers to employment. Limited job opportunities, inaccessible workplaces and lack of reasonable accommodations contributes to the exclusion from the workforce. The frustration of being overlooked for employment opportunities based on disability status not only impacts financial stability but also erodes self-esteem and confidence.
Access to healthcare is a fundamental right, yet individuals with disabilities in Nagaland encounter disparities in accessing medical services. Limited specialized healthcare facilities, insufficient trained personnel and lack of awareness about disability-related healthcare needs pose significant challenges. Many individuals face obstacles in obtaining timely and appropriate medical care, exacerbating health disparities and compromising their overall well-being. The frustration of navigating a healthcare system that fails to address their specific needs further challenges.
Lack of consultation and inclusion of People with Disabilities (PwDs) in the platforms of decision making has led to the exclusion of disabled community in the State’s affairs. These continues not because the State Government and the public are unaware of the struggles and hardships of the disabled population, rather turned the intentions away from the disabled community and their issues. This intention of sidelining the disabled community in the State cause more annoyance and alienation to disabled community.
We firmly believe, having an inclination towards Faith and believing in God is a path of righteousness. Nagaland as a Christian State filled with churches and believers, yet the disabled population are rarely seen participating and accessing the services of the churches. Disabled people are not spared from the horror and darkness of the spiritual life. Many disabled populations do not participate in the churches due to lack of accessibility and objectifying their disability as pity (object of charity) and curse, also extreme lack of spiritual counselling for the disabled people. Today, disabled people are struggling to learn and understand the Genesis of the Bible, whereas the rest of the Christian believers are talking and preaching about Revelation. The frustration of being distanced from their churches does not only take away hopes and love but furthering them away from their Belief and God.
Addressing the frustration of the disabled community in Nagaland requires collaborative efforts from policymakers, community leaders, civil society organizations and churches. Implementing accessibility measures, including the construction of ramps, accessible infrastructure and services is crucial for promoting inclusion. Increasing awareness and sensitivity training among educators, employers and investing in vocational training programmes and promoting inclusive employment practices can create more opportunities for individuals with disabilities to participate in the workforce.
The frustration experienced by the disabled community in Nagaland is a reflection of systematic barriers and societal attitude that perpetuate exclusion and marginalisation. By recognising and addressing these challenges, we can work towards building a more inclusive and equitable society where individuals with disabilities are empowered to fully participate and contribute. Through advocacy, education and collaboration, we can create a future where the frustration of the disabled community is replaced with opportunity, dignity and inclusion.