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A story, not a statistic!

April 2, 2012

I know I’ve been talking a lot of about numbers and statistics recently… 1.4 billion people living below the poverty line… 22 million children with disabilities without access to education…

Yes…Statistics are important in order to stress the severity of global poverty. But we must be careful not to loose sight of the faces in front of these figues.

I’m reminded of the saying ‘One death is a tragety, one millions deaths is a statistic.”Though I do not agree with the saying, it is (sadly) true that when we are faced with numbers number numbers… we tend to lose sight of the human aspect of the situation. Which is why I believe it is important to remind ourselves that these are people, with stories… not statistics.

So I thought I would share with you the stories of two people: Pech and Shikuku Obosi.

Pech’s story

Pech is a teenage girl with learning disabilities who lives in a rural village in Cambodia. In 2011, an ADD International project team began working in Pech’s village. When they first met 13 year old Pech she looked sad, dirty and neglected. Her mother told the ADD team “people in the village say my child is a stupid girl and my husband and I perceived this as a fact. We were too poor to look after her and wanted to get rid of her. She used to wander off when we left her alone. My husband would ask me to look for her but I didn’t want to, I didn’t care if she was dead.” Pech’s parents are not cruel people. They have simply had no experience with a learning disabled child and had real misconceptions about disability and people with disabilities, believing Pech to be in some way sub human.

 Shikuku Obosi’s story

Shikuku Obosi contracted polio as a child. He was determined to receive his education to better his life. To attend school he was walking with callipers and crutches for over two kilometres over uneven terrain. The difficulty of his journey meant that he couldn’t return home at lunchtime and his school did not provide meals. So every day at school, he went hungry.

Shikuku Oboso is now a leading Kenyan disability advocate who has travelled the world speaking out and works to provide high-level policy analysis on education and disability. He is living proof that education benefits all children and transforms lives.

Sadly, for the majority of children suffering with disabilities in developing countries, their situation more likely resembles Pech’s. For millions of children like Pech, who live in rural areas, in which physical work is of then the only viable means of employment for people without an education, being disabled almost universally means being trapped in poverty.

While Skikuku’s road to achieveing an education was a struggle, one which no one should have to face, his story shows us that people with disabilities can achieve amazing things. But we need to give them the opportunity. A disability should not be a barrier to an education. Perhaps Pech’s story could have been very different, if there had been the appropriate services designed to help people, and the families of people, with disabilities.

Now, imagine Pech 22 million times over…

RESULTS UK are campaigning tirelessly to change the situation for the children that are currently out of education and for future generations of children. RESULTS are working to change the policies, practices and beliefs that leave so many disabled children excluded from education. By Living Below the Line for RESULTS, you are helping to provide a better future for millions of children.

You can sign up to the challenge or donate to support our work by clicking on the links.

The RESULTS Live Below The Line Recipe Book is dedicated to Shikuku Oboso as one of the many people who have struggled against disability to better their lives.

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