Published on: September 21, 2014
Krishna Bahadur Sunar (Mr.)
National Association of the Physical Disabled-Nepal [NAPD-Nepla], Jwagal-10, Lalitpur Nepal
Though I am a human being, the society ill-treats me as inhuman being blaming untouchable and so-called lower caste; behaves as unproductive parasitic individual accusing me the consequences of early birth’s sin looking at my disability have motivated me to continuously fight for changing their attitudes till the society absolutely becomes friendlier to us. Hence, I believe in change.
This is me Krishna Bahadur Sunar. My used name is “Krishna Gahatraj”. I born in March 04, 1985 in the remotest villages of the country. My hometown is at Phoolbari-9, Kailali district that lies in Far Western Development Region of Nepal. It is 723 kilometer far from the capital city i.e. Kathmandu of Nepal. It takes completely 17 to 18 hours by bus to travel and approximately an hour by plane. I live in joint family with 16 members. My parents are illiterate and they are farmers. Therefore, agriculture is my family’s major source of income. My native language is Nepali. But, I do speak, read and write both English and Hindi.
According to the Nepal’s caste based classification system, I belong to the Dalit community. This is considered as so-called lower caste and treated as “untouchable” in Nepal. Hence, they are socio-economically, politically and culturally disadvantaged and state victimized community of the country.
I spent my childhood miserably as I was born in economically poor and educationally illiterate family. Therefore, my childhood couldn’t be as good as others though I was born as normal child during birth. According to my parents, my left leg has been partially paralyzed due to poliomyelitis at the age of 1& ½ years of old. This happened due to the lack of polio vaccine as my parents did not take me to the hospital for vaccination due to shortage of money. Since I do belong to the Dalit community and being physically disabled, I have been facing double discriminations in the society since my childhood. Therefore, I’ve been determinedly fighting for the emancipation from double discriminations.
I used to crawl like four footed animal for mobility for more than eight years of old and, people used to laugh looking at me. Confining at a place, having toilets within the house, spreading all over the body and giving a bad smell, sometime, compelled me to curse myself looking the worst life. Therefore, I had been their laughing catalyst initially. However, the love, inspiration and hope of mother never get reduced to see me as change agent. And, therefore, I was admitted to school nearer to my home quite late at the age of 8 years old. I used to go to school and return back to home by sitting at the back of my parents’ body. Later on, I, gradually, began to walk with the support of a stick that sparkle the rays of happiness in my life as that stick showed me the life and future breaking the barriers and accelerating the independency.
I did well in school education and, therefore, passed my School Leaving Certificate (SLC) pursuing 1st division in June, 2003. After passing SLC, it had been great challenging for me to go for higher education due to my disability, caste and financial shortage reasoned I had to leave my village and go for other places to pursue higher education. I went to my district headquarter city – Dhangadhi of Kailali. But, I couldn’t get an accessible rented room due to my disability and caste. I and my whole family got frustrated and saddened with such a societal inhuman behavior and practices. Fortunately, I got an opportunity to come to Kathmandu – the capital city of Nepal for my higher education with five years of scholarship provided by Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF) – U.S. based organization (www.nepalyouthfoundation.org). With its support, I did my bachelor degree. While studying final year (Bachelor Degree), I got 8 month internship opportunity to work with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) – UK based charitable organization. It was my 1st step of career development to start working as a development professional. While working with VSO, I had opportunities to work closely with national level Dalit NGOs and Disabled People Organizations (DPOs) who have been fighting since a long time for their basic human rights. I was motivated to work with them as I do represent from both. Hence, I immediately, after completion of my tenure with VSO in Nepal, began to work with National Association of Persons with Physical Disabled-Nepal [NAPD-Nepal] as a volunteer and program coordinator initially. Similarly, I did also work professionally with Dalit NGO Federation – an umbrella organization of having more than 300 member organizations all over the country. In my five years of professional work experience, I worked extensively with both DPO and as well as to the Dalit NGO. Therefore, I did finally take decision to work actively for the rights of persons with disabilities as a right activist. And, hence, I had been elected as a Secretary in an executive board of NAPD-Nepal in 2013. Since then, I am actively working as a disability right activist in Nepal.
One of the most fortunate and co-incidence in my life is that I got an opportunity to participate in 13 days International Study Program, which was my first international visit as well, on “International Study Program on Global Challenges of Youth with Disabilities” held on August 19 to 31, 2013 at Seoul, Korea organized by Korean Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities (KSRPD). This program, indeed, has impacted me quite a lot to broaden my knowledge and understanding disability to enhance my leadership capacity for our rights after coming back to my country. Since I was the only one and first youth with disability to participate in this program from Nepal, I got an opportunity to practically learn many positive deeds made by persons with disabilities in South Korea. Therefore, the issues and experiences shared by all 9 youth with disabilities from 9 different Asian Pacific countries along with 8 youth (with and without disabilities) from South Korea provided me an opportunity to learn different issues of persons with disabilities including youth with disabilities as well. The most important learning to me in South Korea is that the persistent fighting of persons with disabilities right activists towards bringing changes with great passion is highly commendable and replicable. The joint efforts of persons with disabilities directly coordinating and cooperating with non-disabled people organizations i.e. public private agencies and business companies are entirely beneficial to them as exploring financial support and creating specific employment opportunities. Since mobility is the preliminary condition of persons with disabilities to increase their access in resources, the construction of accessible environment everywhere as much as possible through abolishing all kind of physical cum communication barriers is highly essential. I found this highly improved in South Korean because of which many persons with disabilities have been independent.
Though bringing changes in the state policy, programs and system is not easier task, I directly observed many things which have been possible in South Korea due to the consequences of yearlong constant movement. And, I am greatly inspired with all of their passion, commitment, determination and joint efforts amongst. These practical learning and exposures compel me to think once again very seriously to contribute myself more dynamically to bring a change in my country so that the fundamental human rights of persons with disabilities are ensured, protected and promoted by the state. With this principle, I began my journey to internalize the issues of youth with disabilities primarily in the whole youth movement in Nepal joining with a national level youth-led NGO called – Youth Advocacy Nepal (www.yan.org.np) as a Vice-President. Moreover, I’m also working as a Member Secretary of National Youth Policy Monitoring Youth Committee [NYPMYC] where we closely monitor the implementation of national youth policy from the perspectives of inclusion of all types of marginalized and disadvantaged youth. In this one year, I’ve been successful to take lead and mainstream the issues of youth with disabilities in overall youth movement of Nepal. The Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS) under Government of Nepal (GoN) has recognized me as a potential youth with disability having an in-depth knowledge on the issues. I am currently working with NAPD-Nepal as a Secretary in an Executive Board in full time basis through which involving in organizational activities and national movement. Instead of that, I am a part time employee of International Commission for Dalit Rights (ICDR) in Nepal where I’m working as a Program Coordinator (PC).
Among the social, environmental, physical and attitudinal barriers of persons with disabilities towards creating a fully inclusive society, attitudinal barrier is the major one that obstructs completely in all spheres of persons with disabilities lives. Therefore, I am focusing most of my interventions to change the non-disabled people’s attitudes through social model of disability to bring a sustainable change in the society. As done in South Korea to make participation of non-disabled persons, currently, I’m starting to provide training on “Disability and Development” since October 2013 to the newly graduated and post-graduate students without having disabilities who wish to pursue their professional career in social sector towards creating a history of inclusive society bringing a sustainable change in lives of persons with disabilities.
My vision is to contribute significantly to create an inclusive society where all kinds of persons with disabilities can live their dignified and respected lives without any sorts of discrimination and disparities. Since disability is an evolving concept, it has never been made academic discourse yet in Nepal and as well as most of the countries in the world. Therefore, I am planning to conduct “Disability Dialogue for Inclusive Society [D2IS]” where all sorts of people can have an extensive debate and discourse to understand it thoroughly. Under this project, I’m planning to execute firstly establishing disability dialogue centre, secondly academic discourse on disability and thirdly establishing national disability resource centre as a library. After all that, I envision that none of the people will see at person’s disability rather they will just concentrate on his/her ability.
Finally, there is one famous saying by Mahatma Gandhi “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your DESTINY…” Therefore, never give up your hope and loose the confidence because we will certainly win the world one day. And, everybody will just come to you, embrace you and will say you “WE ALL ARE EQUAL”.
Note: this manuscript was prepared to participate in “International Study Program on Global Challenges of Youth with Disabilities” organised by KSRPD/RI Korea in 2014.