The curtain has finally fallen on London 2012. Amongst the medals, sold out tickets and impressive sporting achievements, a significant aspect left by the Paralympic games is the different way we now view disability. The debate has begun on whether this vision leaves a real and lasting legacy in the UK and across the world.
But perhaps the more compelling and important question we need to ask is – what about people with disabilities in poor countries? What is their legacy and how are we helping them?
India has some 40 to 80 million people with disabilities yet the number of athletes they sent to the Games was incredibly low. Disabled people are amongst the most vulnerable in their communities. ActionAid India works with disabled people to improve their day to day lives and also become an inspiration to others. People like Eshwaramma, a quadriplegic child sponsored by one of ActionAid’s fantastic British supporters.
Only recently, Eshwaramma won the International Diana Award and is now herself a campaigner for disability rights.
And what happens in times of a disaster? Ebima from The Gambia uses a wheelchair to move around. He can't work and depends on his family to look after him financially.
When the West Africa food crisis hit, his family were unable to farm and Ebima was powerless to help. ActionAid supported Ebima’s community with tools and a loan to pay after harvest., helping them get back on their feet.
In countries where a disability often means a life confined to the scrap heap, working with communities and the next generation of disabled children to adapt, access their rights and be champions of their own lives could make a real difference. Maybe we’ll even see them on the medal rostrum at the Paralympics one day.