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In a 3-year project done in Kuchaveli and Thampalakamam DS divisions of Trincomalee district LEADS supported close upon a thousand differently-abled persons by empowering them with skills and confidence.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will". Differently-able people are faced with a myriad of challenges due to their deformities. But those who get support from society manage to do normal things in their daily life and much more when inspired to do so.

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LEADS conducted an Advocacy programme on Women and Children’s Rights for Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs). The aim of the programme was to build capacity in people involved with differently-abled community groups. The programme sought expert advice from the Child Protection Officer and the Women Rural Development Officer. The training was conducted in the Thampalakamam DS office with the participation of 68 persons (31 male and 37 female).

In addition to this 25 participants took part in the networking meeting organized by the Social Service Department. These meetings are expected to open-up good opportunities to DPOs enabling them to build connections and work collaboratively. Since establishing linkages with government services is important for people whose disabilities pose challenges even in daily life. The DPOs hope to work further on this objective.

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The project recognising the physical disabilities of two individuals from Nilaveli and Vealoor donated a pair of Arm Crutches and a Walker to two individuals. One of the bigger achievements last month was the admittance of three differently-abled children to Al-Hutha ECCD (Early Child Care Development) Center in Pulmoddai, Kuchchaveli. Rimsath (4), Sana(4) and Nooraniya (5) are lucky children who will enjoy an education in spite of  their disabilities. ‘Al-Hutha ECCD encourages children to learn at their own pace and the children has a better chance of learning their ABCs here than anywhere else’ says the Field Officer.

The project has been linked with the South based local NGO Navajeevana (New Life) from the inception itself. Their expertise has been utilised to serve hundreds of differently-abled persons in Trincomalee district. In February, Navajeevana therapists attended to the needs of 40 differently-abled persons in Kuchchaveli (22) and Thampalakamam (18) during clinics organized by LEADS. Treatment to clients at the two clinics ranged from speech therapy to physiotherapy, and prosthesis adjustments.

Eight persons with disabilities received loans from the revolving fund done by Ekamuthu DPO in Mulipothan. These loans provide necessary start-up money for small business ventures and cultivation of home gardens. The beneficiaries were selected by the DPOs with assistance coming from Grama Niladharis, DS officials and Social Service officers. The benificieries will use this opportunity to start different IGAs– i.e. grocery shop, rearing chicken, goats and cows, food shops and dry fish making.

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Pictured above is one such benificiery, Warnakulasurya Piyantha Kumara Fenando (32) from Galmetiyawa, Thampalgamuwa. He is married and having a family. In March 2010 he suffered injuries to the spinal cord  in a terrible accident. He has been wheel chair bound since then. When LEADS Disability Support project started in Trincomalee around December 2013 LEADS/Navajeevana conducted a survey on people with disabilities through CBR volunteers and field officers. The project selected Piyantha as he was physically impaired and needing assistance.

Priyantha was referred for physiotherapy treatment. With the support of project the field officer he received wheelchair from the Thampalagamuwa DS Office. Priyantha being a go-getter soon joined the Ekamuthu DPO - a group for persons with all types of disabilities done in his village. He had the opportunity to participate in several programmes conducted by LEADS/Navajeevana like the Rights Based Approach (RBA) training for DPO leaders, Expenditure Management training, Capacity Building for DPO leaders on Democratic Practises, DPO Strengthening program and Disability Rights on Inclusive Livelihoods. Now Priyantha is tserving as the president of Ekamuthu DPO.

Priyantha received livelihood support of 10,000 LKR which he plans on to develop his dry fish business. Priyantha says having used the Expenditure Management tool he has learned to manage his own expenses. In addition to the dry fish business he has started a plant nursery at home and he  also has a plans of starting a small grocery shop in the near future.

Priyantha is not challenged by his impairment. He has learnt to accept it as a mere incovinience compared to how things were before. But what is astounding about this young man is the way he manages to overcome all difficultires and get everything done by himself, independently. Further he is an exemplary man invovled in PWDs' development activities doing much to for the improvement of the differently-abled population in the East.











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