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10 August, 2017 11:08:06 AM
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Efforts to improve living standard of the poor and insolvent disabled

Government initiatives and measures are playing a significant role in integrating physically-challenged children in the mainstream of the society
Prof. Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled
Efforts to improve living standard of the poor and insolvent disabled

The Bangladesh government has taken steps and measures to improve the lot of poor and insolvent disabled people as a result of which disabled and poor insolvent people are getting scope to survive. The government has also invited the well-off citizens of the country to come forward to help the poor and the insolvent disabled to get footing in the society. The government’s efforts to this end have successfully changed the lot of some of the disabled and insolvent people across the country. As for example: Belal Hawlader, a resident of Gorsthan (graveyard) Road of Patuakhali Pourasabha, is a day-lobourer by profession. He, Belal Hawlader, the father of seven children, was struggling to run his family due to financial insolvency. He was passing his days somehow by accepting sorrow, pain and hardship. But his sufferings increased further when two of his children – Rakib and Shakib – were detected as mentally-challenged by born.
Belal Hawlader and Runu Begum Couple could not first understand the problem immediately after the birth of their two children. They noticed their abnormality gradually from their behaviour. They were confirmed of their mental sickness later when they visited doctors. At that time many neighbours and relatives started talking that Rakib and Shakib are the result of the sin of Belal Hawlader and his wife. The couple got frustrated for such comments of the neighbouring people. They were mentally broken down due to sickness of the two children in one hand and their financial insolvency in the other hand. Considering the situation of Belal Hawlader and his wife Runu Begum, the Upazila chairman with the assistance of local Social Service Office has arranged disabled allowance for his two children. As a result, they are receiving the government allowance of Taka 3,600 after three months as Tk 600 per person in every month. Through the money, they are now not only meeting medicines costs for the physically-challenged children, they are also fulfilling their other daily needs. Monwara Khatun Kamola, a 37-year-old physically-challenged woman, is another such person. The physical structure of Kamola, who was born at the house of a poor farmer Ismail at Banagram village under Khoksha Upazila in Kushtia in 1980, was very weak. At her mature age, her height is two and a half feet. Her parent needed five years to know that their only child Kamola is physically incapable. At that time they became so much worried about Kamola and her future. But now they are not concerned about her. Ignoring banter and badinage, Kamola passed degree examination with good results. She had a dream from her childhood of doing something for the neglected and insolvent disabled people. She used to do various types of development works from her student life.

Kamola, along with another disabled Aslam, established Khoksha Upazila Protibandhi Kalyan Sangstha for creating employment and realizing the rights of insolvent, poor and disadvantageous disabled people. And this organisation is now a factory of materialising dreams of many disabled like Kamola and Aslam. Currently, 395 persons with disabilities are working together in the cottage industry of the organisation. Most of the disabled including Kamola have been brought under the allowance for the poor and insolvent disabled. Besides, Kamola is getting Tk 10,000 every year from the Directorate of Social Welfare to run the organisation.

The government has not only ensured the future of Rakib-Shakib or Kamola and Aslam, many Rakib-Shakib and Kamola and Aslam are now self-dependent and well-established in the society due to good attention of the government. The Deputy Director of the Department of Social Service, Farid Ahmed, said that the government in fiscal year 2005-2006 introduced the Disabled Allowance Programme for changing the lot and improving the living standard of the poor, insolvent disabled people. At that time Tk 200 monthly allowance was provided to 1, 04,166 disabled people. But the number of beneficiaries and the amount of money were increased later.

Currently, Tk 5.40 billion are being given to 750,000 physically challenged people at a monthly rate of Tk 600. Besides, stipend for the students with disabilities has been declared from the primary level to higher level. Interest-free loan from Tk 5,000 to Tk 30,000 are being provided for self-employment of the physically-challenged ones. One time grants are also being given to them for vocational training and making them self-reliant after the training.

The other steps and measures that have been taken for the welfare of the people with disabilities included arrangement for special books named “brail” for the visually-impaired students and allocation of 30 minutes additional time in the public examinations. Among other facilities for the disabled students, preservation of 10 percent quota in class three and four jobs and one percent quota in class one and two jobs and arrangement of specialised healthcare services for the disabled in every Upazila. A number of organisations are working at government and private levels for mental growth of the physically-challenged children.

A school named “Proyash” has been launched at Dhaka Cantonment for the students with disabilities. Work is underway to establish its branch in Comilla and Chittagong cantonments while directives have been given to launch such schools at all other cantonments of the country. Farid Ahmed said that the type and level of disability and financial condition of the physically challenged people are given priority in providing allowance. In this case, preference is given to those who are insolvent and fully incapable of doing work. He said the government initiatives and measures are playing a massive role in integrating physically-challenged children in the mainstream of the society.

Farid Ahmed said, urging the well-to-do people to come forward to make the government initiative a success, that, this allowance has improved the living standard of the poor and insolvent disabled people across the country. This indeed is a good venture initiated by the government to help numerous disabled and poor across the country. To make such humanitarian effort a success not only the government alone but also the well-to-do section of people across the country should come forward. At the same time the insolvent and disabled poor people should take the advantages provided by both the government and the private organizations to uplift the condition of their life.  

The writer is a retired Professor of Economics, BCS General Education Cadre

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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