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Living with a disability: the tough battle against discrimination

In Sri Lanka, FAIRMED is committed to the needs of people living with disability and to help them to live a life of dignity. 17-year-old Jafazeer Haneepa, for example, suffers from cerebral palsy. You can read here how he and his mother Mawpara overcome the hardships that they face on a daily basis.

Jafazeer is being examined by Dr. Kithsiri

The life of 44-year-old Mawpara and her “sweet little wonder” Jafazeer is beset by discrimination and financial distress. “I have to look after my son whilst also earning enough money for food and medicine. Finding that balance is hard,” says Mawpara, who lives in the area of Divulana. Our colleague Nirvan De Zylva met with Mawpara and Jafazeer during a workshop coordinated by FAIRMED for people with disabilities.

“Jafazeer's father left us when his son was six months old. Following this, I opened a small shop, where I work day and night,” continues Mawpara. She could only afford to travel to the workshop at the health centre in Thamankaduwa thanks to a generous tuk-tuk driver who did not charge her the full fare. The cost of attendance definitely paid off for the mother-son team, says Mawpara: “I learned a great deal today about how I can improve my son’s life.”

Overcoming doubts
For example, her doubts about going out in public with Jafazeer in the future have been dispelled. These earlier fears stemmed from the widespread discrimination suffered by people living with a disability. “This year, I'll take my son to the village festival and to the New Year's celebrations. I'll sell something there to make up for the lack of revenue from the shop,” she says.

Mawpara has gained this newfound confidence, among other things, from discussions during the workshop with medical professionals and other concerned parties. FAIRMED coordinates these events in Sri Lanka to enable people with disabilities to live a life of dignity.