14 December, 2015
This blog was written by CBM Australia Advocacy and Policy Officer, Rachel Wallbridge, for contribution to the Campaign for Australian Aid blog.
In 2013, I had the privilege of working in the human rights field in Ghana’s capital city, Accra, in West Africa.
One night, I went to the national theatre and watched a play written by a famous Ghanaian playwright. I was greatly enjoying the production, especially the humorous reflections on Ghanaian culture and everyday life. However, my enjoyment suddenly halted when I observed the audience’s reaction to a character with disability. His disability was the comic relief of the entire play – every time he spoke, the audience roared with laughter. I didn’t find this funny.
After the play, my eyes were opened to a few uncomfortable realities.
I observed that the most isolated people – physically and socially – were most often people with disability and those with mental illness. I noticed that most street beggars were people with disability – not because they can’t work, but because they aren’t given the same opportunities to go to school or get a job. I saw a newspaper reporting on a case of infanticide – a baby had been killed by her own parents because she had a disability.
Two years later, I am back working in Australia and what drives me every day is imagining a world where all people, including people with disability, can enjoy their human rights and have the opportunity to thrive.
Australian Aid provides this opportunity.
Thanks to Australian Aid, people with disability living in some of the poorest communities now attend school for the first time, receive life changing healthcare and assistive devices, earn a living and are included in their communities.
Globally, one billion people have a disability – yet 80 per cent live in low and middle income countries. After my experience in Ghana, I can believe this statistic.
But I do feel hope.
For the first time the world has recognised that to end poverty, we need to include people with disability. The 2030 Agenda, including the Global Goals have 11 references to disability: this is worthy of celebration and hope.
Together and with the support of Australian Aid, we can advocate for and build a world that is fair, inclusive and safe for all people.
Will you join me?