Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that for the past several years I have been seeking a solution to address the grave needs of severely disabled children in Afghanistan. And in spite of yet another rejection for grant funding to help these special children, I feel compelled to continue my fight to do something meaningful for children with disabilities in Afghanistan. These children are disabled for a number of reasons, the spread of disease, malnutrition, pre-natal drug abuse and more than a decade of war. And even as the war in Afghanistan winds down, the incidence of disability among children and adults remains on the rise with nearly 20% of the total population experiencing some form of cognitive or physical impairment. These numbers are certainly critical and worse still, is that there is currently no comprehensive effort being put forth by either the Afghan government or the international community to adequately deal with this mounting problem. How much worse must these statistics look before good people and governments act to appropriately address the needs of the disabled in Afghanistan?
Photo courtesy of Middle East Institute
Greater opportunities and resources must be developed and adequately funded in order to begin to address the health and educational needs of children with disabilities in Afghanistan, and that is what my work has always been directed towards. But in the end, I am just a mom trying to help out some children by adding my voice to the din and the constant stream of competing needs in a country that has experienced devastating challenges for decades.
My entire adult life has been devoted to advocating on behalf of children with disabilities in education, and I have seen many shortcomings in people’s perceptions of what children who suffer from cognitive and physical disabilities can accomplish. Perhaps this is the reason for the absence of anything meaningful being proposed or funded in Afghanistan. I don’t know. I do know from my own experiences of raising a disabled daughter that these kinds of perceptions are misguided and frankly wrong. I have seen with my own eyes how my daughter has proven the so-called experts wrong at every turn. I have been witness to her achievements of college graduation and now living on her own. And I know that key to her success has always been my belief in her and a willingness to, when necessary, blaze new trails and challenge status quo thinking.
But the truth is my daughter was born and raised in a country where she has always benefited from opportunity – opportunity that more often than not, has been set forth because of the parents that came before me. I stand on the shoulders of those parents who fought to get their disabled sons and daughters the resources and opportunities necessary to move their lives forward. And it is my duty to continue that legacy, whether in the US or abroad, to constantly push the envelope in challenging how government leaders respond to the needs of handicapped youth and adults. So I will continue to seek solutions to help children with disabilities in developing countries like Afghanistan, in an effort to expand opportunities and help these very capable children recognize the kinds of achievements that most of us take for granted. For more information on my efforts to date and proposed solutions, please visit www.paths2choice.com