Indiability is a Rajasthan-based charity working towards social inclusion and equal opportunities for people with physical disabilities. Disabled people in India represent one of the most marginalized groups in Indian society. A number of contributing factors such as a lack of education, misinformation and religious beliefs result in people with disabilities frequently being ostracised from their communities and families. Indiability’s mission is to challenge the discriminatory mindsets on disability, and help the disabled youth be considered as equal citizens in their communities. To do this, we work in partnership with the Sucheta Kriplani Shiksha Niketan (SKSN) institute in Jodhpur, a boarding school for disabled and able-bodied students.
In 2005, together with the support of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, the organization established the IMAGE (Indian Mixed Ability Group Events) program. The program began as mixed ability sports clubs which allowed disabled and able-bodied students to interact, compete and build friendships. In recent years it has developed into a community outreach program combining sports with learning objectives to enhance its influence in rural villages – areas where disabled people are most severely ostracized. IMAGE uses a group of disabled children as 'trainers' who organise sports games designed to carry important health information such as improving sanitation and explaining how diseases are spread. As the lessons educate the village children on important issues, the discriminatory mindsets on disability have been challenged as IMAGE kids are viewed as well-educated and responsible role models. The project has also led to 13 toilets being installed in one village, whilst disabled members of the programme are now referred to as ‘Sir’ or ‘brother’ rather than the derogatory terms used when IMAGE started. The project breaks down barriers between disabled and non-disabled children through group activity and allows disabled children to nurture their inclusion into mainstream society. Furthermore, the participants develop a skill set to include on their CVs, a concept that they’re made aware of through Employability Workshops.
Indiability has also organized other sporting events to help change attitudes towards disability. One such example was a cricket match between the IMAGE members and the Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation to help them recognise that disability does not equate to an inability. Despite the progress being made in the villages, disabled people remained unable to utilize the state’s bus services as they faced prejudice from the Rajasthan bus drivers and conductors. Drivers would often drop disabled passengers long distances from their desired destination to discourage them from using the bus in future, or fail to pick them up completely for fear of delaying their schedule. To the surprise of the RSRTC employees, the IMAGE team won the match! Over 1100 IMAGE supporters sprinted onto the field and carried team Captain Janak Singh, whose legs are paralyzed by polio, around the stadium for a well-deserved and very emotional victory lap. It was on this very same cricket ground, only 18 months ago, that Singh was thrown out of the stadium for being disabled when he tried to take part in a government-run, ward-level cricket tournament. This cricket match forged a relationship between IMAGE and the RSRTC that has done both parties proud. Ever since the event took place, all rural buses not only stop in front of the SKSN institute, but the bus conductors actually call out for passengers with disabilities!
Whilst IMAGE is Indiability’s flagship programme, the 1000 Loos project is beginning to be rolled out in Rajasthan. Around 366 million people in India do not have access to toilets, and a lack of sanitation is the world's biggest cause of infection and often leads to physical disability. The 1000 Loos Campaign aims to build a thousand toilets in a thousand villages. They will give people greater dignity, as villagers currently have to pass waste in the open in fields and forests. The initiative also improves the sanitation levels in villages to help prevent the spread of disease in future. Alongside the 1000 loos, a health education campaign promotes better hygiene and sanitation. Indiability has been working with the SKSN Institute to help build toilets near the students' homes. A team of five exceptional young women (all past students and now teachers), have come forward with the passion and determination to find a way to deliver a better sanitation solution. Many of the young men and women from SKSN Institute know what it's like to live with a disease like polio. Now they are on a mission to extract themselves and future generations from these shackles and statistics. Their aim is to become agents of major social change by creating access to the humblest of things, the toilet.