My name is Kazol Rekha. I live in Gaibandha district.
Photographer: Wahid Adnan/Drik, Bangladesh
In 2003 I fell from a chair and the lower part of my body was totally paralysed. From that day we tried different treatments from doctors and others but my condition did not improve.
My life was good before the accident, like everybody else. I was in school and I got married. But after my accident my husband left me. Community attitudes also changed. I became an additional burden in my brother’s family, as they had to spend a lot of money for my treatment. Before, I was treated with affection, but after the accident, it was no more. I felt very sad.
People from GUK, a local organisation, identified and supported me. They provided me with a wheelchair which helped my mobility. It helped me a lot to use it in the community.
Before the wheelchair, I had a problem with safe water and sanitation: the tube-well and the toilet were not accessible for me. At least two persons would have to carry me to the toilet and to the tube-well. It was a big thing for me when the wheelchair came and the ramp was put in to make the tube-well and toilet accessible.
I received training from GUK in sewing. I bought a sewing machine, and I get orders from the village people and then make the garments and sell to them. With all these changes, I don’t feel like a burden anymore in the family; in the community people treat me nicely.
I’m the president of the Ward Committee on Disaster. Also I’m the leader of a sub-committee on cleanliness during floods. I have to help people understand how to keep food clean so that it is not affected by germs. We have an early warning system, and make sure a person with speech and hearing impairment knows how the warning system is working for them.
When a flood is coming, we have to prepare: we store dry food and firewood. We make a list of doctors with their phone numbers; we use that list during the flood if needed. We also plan how to rescue people with disabilities during a flood and where to take them to a shelter, with accessible toilets.
Before these committees, we were very vulnerable. When the area was affected by flood, nobody bothered about the person with disabilities; we were totally neglected and helpless as there is always a rush for leaving. But now we have made a list of persons with disabilities of the area. We know in which place the person with disabilities is living so we can take immediate steps to evacuate them.
I was always afraid when there was a prospect of flooding but now we know what to do, so I’m not afraid anymore. If there is a flood, I can face it. I feel proud with my role in the community: people didn’t know what to do and now I’m there to help them learn. I feel good!