Through CBM’s Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) initiative, Nayana received training on disability rights. She has become a fearless advocate, championing the removal of physical barriers and challenging negative attitudes in her community.
"I first heard about the rights of persons with disabilities only two years ago... For so long I did not know about something that is so important for our well-being."
Nayana is a 30-year-old woman from Angunakolapelessa in southern Sri Lanka. Her life took a drastic turn when she had to undergo surgery to remove a spinal tumour. She was then confined to a wheelchair for more than half her life. Through a project supported by CBM in collaboration with the Navajeevana Resource Centre for Inclusive Education and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Nayana found new hope.
The project focused on improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities by increasing access to inclusive health care, education, and social services. Nayana actively participated in workshops and activities related to the rights of persons with disabilities and government policies and plans to protect their rights. She also received training in advocacy and networking.
Inspired by her newly acquired knowledge and empowered by the project's support, Nayana became one of the most active members of the Disability Rights Advocacy Network of the Southern Province, which the project was instrumental in establishing.
"There are many persons with disabilities in our society. They remain hidden. I used to be one of them," says Nayana. "But soon after I participated in a project to promote a more inclusive society, I freed myself from the constraints I had imposed on myself. Finally, people started listening to us and we became more confident”.
Advocacy and Networking for Change
Through the collective efforts of the network, Nayana and her colleagues systematically address the challenges faced by persons with disabilities. Their work is about creating physical environments that are accessible to all and actively challenging prevailing attitudes and assumptions about disability.
"Accessibility is about providing equal access to all people. Without access to the facilities and services available in our communities, persons with disabilities can never experience true inclusion. Without inclusion, there can be no wellbeing," says Nayana.
Through inspiring journeys like Nayana's, CBM has witnessed how inclusive development is promoting a more inclusive society. Her story is an example of the power of knowledge, support and collective action in breaking down barriers and ensuring that persons with disabilities can lead fulfilling lives.