In our country, the number of people with disabilities is high enough to merit special attention. Based on a report from the World Bank and World Health Organisation, there are 10.5 million disabled adults living in our country. Most of these people are unable to work, mostly not because of their disability, but for their lack of training.
The good news is that a lot effort is now being given towards their establishment in society, both from the government and private sectors and NGO's. Contributing to the energy, Sightsavers International along with the Institute of Communication Studies (ICU) created a training course by the name 'Promoting Persons with Disabilities through Participation in Media.'
“These people need a voice. Though there are a lot of people working for their betterment, I think they need to shout for themselves to get something done. And what better way to do that then through the media,” says Alim Bari, advocacy and communication coordinator at Sightsavers International. Mass media, especially news media in Bangladesh are becoming very popular and influential for its strong roles in creating public awareness and attitudes. The team behind this project thought if these people with disabled conditions get a mass media training, they will be able to understand how media works, which can be a pathway for their voices being heard.
Their aim was to train the people for two months on a journalism course designed especially for them. “We set up criteria and gave a brief to every NGO, newspapers and every other resource. We got more than 150 entries from which we selected 20 people who fit perfectly with our criteria.” He also adds, “As this was our first project we couldn't cater to as many people we wanted.”
A lot of prominent journalists came to train them these two moths, and the 10 who did well got the chance to do an internship in a media house. One of them was Md Borhan Uddin, who did his internship in Independent TV. “As guy who can't walk, I never imagined that I would once work in a media office. This is huge deal for me, this opportunity reminded me that I can live like a normal human being,” says Borhan. He is now working as a researcher for the television.
Though it was a small scale project, the outcomes were in a huge amount, according to Alim Bari. “They did very well on their internship and even got permanent jobs.” A bunch from the training program even started their own online portal which other than daily news will specialise on disablement. Though it was Sight Savers' first step, it is hoped that a revolution will come in the near future where the disabled will received the livelihood they deserve.