Meenassi from India suffered from malnutrition as a child, and her growth was stunted as a result.
When I visited a a rural village in northern India with World Vision in 2012, my friends and I met Meenassi. She was 18 years old – but she didn’t look even half that old. Because Meenassi suffered from serious malnutrition as a child her growth had been stunted, and she had become paralyzed. She was unable to walk, to go to school or play outside with her friends. Despite the challenges she had experienced, Meenassi was cheerful and excited to meet us. She had a beautiful voice and sang us a song, and was excited to tell us about how World Vision had been able to provide a tutor so she could learn to write her name.
It was challenging to meet Meenassi, knowing that her disability could have been prevented if she had only received the nutrition she needed as a child. But it is exciting to know that World Vision is working in communities around the world, to ensure that people with disabilities are treated equally and can access every opportunity in life.
World Vision is committed to including people with disabilities in all of our programs. We work in partnership with communities, Disability Services and Disabled People’s Organisations to:
To mark the International Day for Persons with a Disability, we’ve collected stories from people with disabilities who we work with around the world. Here is a taste of just a few – you can read the full collection here.
“Just by looking at my physique people pass judgment that I can’t do anything. They don’t even get to know me. Even when children my age play, they don’t include me saying I will get hurt and I cannot contribute much in the game.
But despite it all, I still consider myself fortunate. I have hands and legs. I tell myself every day that I can do this. I can succeed if I really work hard.
I go to school to gain an education and to disprove the stereotypical mind-set that children with special needs cannot become anything in life. Society has no hopes for me, but I have hopes for me. I would like to tell children with special needs, be content with what they have and make the best use of it.
Through World Vision I got to go to meetings for children with special needs came together. I got to learn about our basic rights. I never knew them before. I got to interact with other children with special needs. It is always good to know that I am not alone in this struggle. I felt a sense of belonging and oneness there.”
“My name is Toai. When I was born, my appearance shocked all my family. I had no fingers and toes, and my face looked different. Only my parents dared to hold me. Nobody wanted to touch me. They were all simply frightened.
The first time I ever felt important was when my mum took me to a World Vision children’s club. I was sitting on a swing when a boy ran over and asked: “What’s your name?” and “How old are you?”
It was the first time someone had ever done that, so Hoang Anh’s questions made me really happy. Since then, he’s been one of my closest friends.
In my club, I was taught how to write and count. I also learned how to serve myself simple things so that I would not have to depend totally on my parents to do it for me. One day, after several years at the club, I told my teacher that I wanted a small business selling newspapers or lottery tickets. After discussing my idea, we decided on newspapers, with World Vision giving me some money to get started.”
Su Su contracted polio shortly after birth and could not walk. Her mother brought her to a World Vision supported school for children with disabilities.
“I always thought that, it would be good if I can walk so that I could go to school and learn,” Su Su cites. “I could also take care of my mother when I grow up. Now I am happy that I can go to school. I have no difficulty at school. The teachers and friends are very helpful. They help me with my lessons too.”
Su Su’s dream is to become a teacher “to share what I have learned and help the children to learn”. She wishes for other children with disabilities “to pass high school and to graduate from the university,” Su Su adds.
“Thanks to World Vision that I had a chance to share about myself. Thanks for the support and please make other people knows about us,” requests Su Su.