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Sayed Abdullah Hussain emerges as Task Force Leader: Breaking the myth of people with disabilities as helpless victims

Mr. Sayed Abdullah Hussain, from closely knit Orezag Community with 18 households, in Yakawalang district of Bamyan Province, is a high school teacher in a government school. Now 44 years old, he acquired multiple disabilities in a fatal road accident a few years back.  He has a pronounced limp in his right leg and copes with a hand condition which makes the free movement of his right hand difficult. As a teacher he is one of the influential members of the community but “the community has now started pitying me for my disabilities and there is cloud of suspicion on my capacities which is painful”. However, with constant practice and physical exercise, he learnt to maneuver his hand to do a number of things which many others thought was impossible for him to perform.  After his struggle with his disabilities and community’s perception about his disabilities, he wanted to demonstrate not only to him but also to others with disabilities, that given opportunities, training, and facilities, not all disabilities stop one from functioning as a useful member of the community.

The SRACAD project provided him good opportunity to emerge a leader again. He narrates that when CBDRM committee was formed, he was only one of its members. However, he articulated the need for opportunities for persons with disability to be part of the task forces and pushed himself forward for a leadership role for the first aid task force. His ability to advocate forcefully in favour of providing opportunities to PWDs finally convinced the CBDMC that he can be an effective leader with first aid trainings. One of the most motivated participants of the First aid training; he was a quick learner too.

Abdullah deftly attends to injured people with appropriate bandages, ointment and medicine as first level treatment before the patient reaches the hospital and referral. In one such case the primary health care centre, realizing that the first aid provided to an injured person has stopped further bleeding from his wound in the head, without losing further time on re-0bandanging, sent him to the district hospital. The doctors admired the way the first aid was administered to the injured. This incident spread the word about the capacity of the first aid team under the leadership of Sayed Abdul among surrounding communities. When someone falls or is injured by stones and boulders—falls from the mountains or injuries from the falling stones and small bounders are not uncommon—from the surrounding communities, they make their way to Orezag’s firstaid team before reaching the hospitals. The passer byes call the meeting room in his home, where the first aid box is kept, as a small clinic they can rely on in case of emergencies.  

When I started using my difficult hand to do the bandaging and performing multiple movements needed for the task, the perception of this small community for the capacities of persons with disabilities started changing. Sayed Abdullah Hussain has plans to motivate men and women and girls and boys with disabilities on the one hand, and to spread awareness in the community for the capacities and specific needs of the persons with disabilities, especially in DRR interventions. I always tell people not to treat PWDs as helpless victims but provide them with opportunities to participate under SRACAD project.

One significant achievement of Sayed Abdullah Hussain as a task force leader is that he is able to convince the community to form a fund through collective small contributions for replenishing the first aid box with medicines and other required supplies. This initiative has seen a huge success; Abdullah is able to replenish the first aid box twice from this contribution and hopes to keep doing it.