"My disability does not define me"- Pratibha

SSMK Buzz

Straight from the heart

My name is Pratibha and I am disabled person. Even though my two feet do not work properly, I lead a happy life working as a tailor. I had promised myself that I would succeed in this profession, so I put in a lot of effort to learn it. My family, my in-laws and my husband are very supporting of me. I am very fortunate, because as a disabled person, I never thought that I would have such a loving husband. Everyone in the community who knows me or of me and my skills, also wish me well.

After my father passed away when I was young, I realized that we would be at a disadvantage. At the time, my brother and I both went to school, but I ended up leaving school. I felt that I as a disabled person, I would not be able to obtain a good job the future. But I came to realize that as a female, it was necessary for me to make something out of myself. Therefore, now I am also able to give advice to my friends and even customers who come to the shop.

My family has a long history in the sewing profession. My grandfather was also a tailor. One day he read in the newspaper about an organization that caters to disabled people.  He gave me their number in the Kathmandu, and when I called them, they asked me if I could come there from Dhankuta. Soon I left for Kathmandu and I had to walk two days to Letang first. I was successfully able to find the office in Kathmandu myself where I stayed for six months and learned about sewing and cutting. I came back to Dhankuta where I learned the profession for another three months. After that, I opened my shop and this is how I am living now. I have always had faith that I can succeed.

Primarily, most of the people in my village doubted my abilities. They thought that because I am disabled and new in the profession that I could not really sew properly. They also did not think that I could pay my 1200 to 1300 rupees rent for my three sewing machines and my shop. They did not have faith, but I had faith that I would be able to run the shop successfully. It has been four years and my shop is still running properly.

27 "My disability does not define me " - Pratibha Till this day nobody has made fun of me in an extreme manner or treated me differently just because I am a disabled person. Only when I was young, the older children in school used to look at me a lot. I used to feel that they stared at me just because I did not walk as they did. I sometimes wish that I was not disabled. For example, when I am stressed out or sad, I think that it would have been better if I were not born at all.

However, even as a young girl, I was determined to make my own livelihood. Because my brothers and sisters were not disabled, my mother used to worry about my future a lot. My uncles, aunts and grandparents used to worry and cry because they did not understand why I had this disability. Even though they cried, I felt that I needed to be strong. Now that I am doing such a great job, everyone in my family is very happy for me.

I earn about ten to twelve thousand which is enough to pay the rent and other things. Because my brother has a job elsewhere, he has not been living with us since six to seven years ago. I have to take care of my mother. He sends her money occasionally, but I mostly pay for her expenses.

My shop is far away from home so at the moment I have left my sister to take care of it. I taught her how to sew and she is as good as me now. I have taught around six to eight girls. Some of these girls' husbands went abroad and have not sent any money to them. They were in great difficulty and so they came to me for help. At first I was hesitant, because I was afraid that their husbands might not like them learning the profession. But they insisted on learning. Some of the girls sew in Letang while others work for different shops. Some are married but still continue to sew and about three or four of them go to school.

I would like to tell other disabled people to never ever think of themselves as weak. Even if you are disabled, you have the courage and capability to establish your own livelihood. I know of the difficulties and pains some people have gone through, but I do not think that they should give up. With bravery and action you will certainly succeed !


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