A few years ago I went on a holiday to Kalutara and stayed at the Kani Lanka Hotel. On one side of the road, leading to the hotel from Galle Road was a home for the disabled (I don’t remember the name of that place). After our stay there, while we were leaving to Colombo, someone in our car suggested visiting that home. When I entered the home, there was a new born baby kept in a cot near the entrance. He/She had no fingers and the parents had dumped the infant. The condition inside the home was gross, there was urine on the floor, flies were everywhere and some grown up inmates had no mattress, so slept on small wooden cots. I was thinking how lucky I was to be a “normal” person and how impossible it is for those people to carry on with there day to day activities without anyone’s help. This event affected my life for a few days, But as time went on I stopped thinking about it.
Like most people I do not have any disabled persons in my family, so I hardly think about their lives. In Sri Lanka we rarely find any sign boards prioritising the disabled. There is no disabled parking, wheelchair users cannot use public transport, our supermarkets have no special trolleys for them, Finding a disabled friendly toilet is a rarity. There are some who put the blame completely on the government. But, I think all of us have to accept the blame. The entire country has been discriminating against a small vulnerable group, which has had very little represantation in anything. Those readers who travel “outside”, especially to developed countries would have noticed how much work a man without feet can do by himelf. They can push their wheelchairs into buses and there are special spaces in buses allocated for them and most buildings have wheelchair ramps. I think the day when someone less able to walk, will be able to walk a mile or more unaided will be the day when Sri Lanka will be a fair place for all to live.