A Mother’s Journey: How Sakhina Found Support Through Her Community

Sakhina and her youngest daughter, Rojina smiling each other. (Credit: CDD)

In the heart of Jatrapur Union, Kurigram, Bangladesh, resides Sakhina Begum, a single mother whose life took an unexpected turn when her youngest daughter, Rojina, was born with cerebral palsy. Rojina’s condition, rendering her unable to sit and with poor neck control, presented a unique set of challenges for Sakhine . Despite her wholehearted dedication to caring for her daughter, the demands of Rojina’s full dependency limited Sakhina’s ability to work and support her family.

Recalling those challenging times, Sakhina shared, “My daughter Rojina would spend most of her time lying in bed. Occasionally, I would cradle her in my lap, but my ability to attend to other tasks was severely limited. During this period, my relatives and neighbors regarded me with neglect and disdain, causing me great distress and sadness.”

Sakhina discovered she was not aware of the complexities of raising a child with cerebral palsy.  A 2018 study revealed that for every 1,000 children in rural Bangladesh, 3.4 are born with cerebral palsy. Moreover, being in one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, Sakhina recognized the importance of disaster preparedness for herself and Rojina.

Project interns giving orientation on dealing with Cerebral Palsy (Credit: CDD)

Finding their community…

Discovering a Lifeline in the Community, Sakhina found solace and support as a regular member of the Centre for Disability in Development (CDD)’s self-help group. Established as part of the Putting Persons with Disabilities at the Centre of Humanitarian Preparedness and Response (PPDCHP&R) project, a collaboration by the Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Network (DiDRRN), including CDD, CBM, Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB), and Malteser International (MI), the self-help group became a transformative force in Sakhina’s life. 

“Since becoming a member of the Self-Help Group (SHG) under CDD’s Project, my life has seen positive transformations. I’ve undergone various training sessions and gained valuable insights into the Rights and Protection of Persons with Disabilities Act of 2013,” she explained.

However, attending group meetings posed financial challenges and the difficulties of traveling with Rojina. Despite these obstacles, Sakhina’s persistence paid off when she learned that CDD could provide a specially designed chair for her daughter. The chair not only offered Rojina much-needed support, allowing her to sit in a stable position, but it also marked the beginning of positive changes in their lives.

Through the self-help group, Sakhina discovered health camps for persons with disabilities located conveniently near their home, eliminating the need for extensive travel. With the newfound accessibility, Rojina started receiving free therapy every month, and the camps also provided essential medicines.

Rojina received special sitting chair from PPDCHP&R Project (Credit: CDD)

…and how it changed their lives

The self-help groups became more than a place for Rojina’s therapy; they became a learning ground for Sakhina, offering insights into different therapy techniques that enhanced her daughter’s mobility. Witnessing Rojina’s progress, Sakhina found immeasurable joy – a small yet significant step toward a better life.

Equipped with knowledge gained from self-help group meetings and awareness sessions, Sakhina recognized the vulnerability of children with disabilities in disaster-prone areas. She connected with fellow caregivers, sharing insights on caring for children with disabilities in both normal and disaster situations.

Sakhina reflected on her journey, saying, “Before joining the self-help group, I was unaware of the support and service center for persons with disabilities in Kurigram. Through the monthly group meetings facilitated by CDD’s groups, I learned about this resource, which has been instrumental in improving my daughter’s health.”

In December 2022, Sakhina received a one-time unconditional support amounting BDT 15,000 for her livelihood through the PPDCHP&R project aimed at supporting her and her family financially within the community. With this support, she bought two goats and took care of them, hoping to increase their numbers. Sakhina’s hope was fulfilled when she had three yearlings from the two goats. She has recently sold two of the three yearlings and  is gradually benefiting from the project’s livelihood support. This support is providing her with an opportunity to become financially self-reliant.

Sakhina’s journey showcases the transformative power of health rehabilitation support in disaster-prone areas. Through the groups and their meetings, Sakhina was able to find a community that could understand and give support for her condition. She was provided with need-based assistive devices, knowledge, and guidance. At the end of the day, she was strengthened to overcome what might seem like a hurdle for families with disabilities–and was given the chance to ensure a brighter and more resilient future for her daughter.

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