I recently received a message from Fahim Khairy who writes about the conditions for Disabled people in Afghanistan.
“In the third world countries, as example in Afghanistan where I came from, the word disability has a very different meaning. People have unlike perceptions about it and always see it in more negative light.
“The day when an Afghan is hit by a rocket and falls down bleeding, people will immediately forget that situation and say the person is under God’s punishment. Although God did not fire that rocket so it’s the person’s fate receiving the punishment through God’s will for his or her bad actions. It’s the culture. Unfortunately, it's not easy to change.
“When I travelled to Afghanistan after seven years I anticipated seeing everybody enjoying the new democratic regime however I disappointedly found out the opposite.
“I really wondered why I couldn’t see wheelchairs in the streets, markets or any part of the cities despite the fact that there were millions of disabled people living in the country. It was clear that lack of accessibility ruthlessly forced every wheelchair use to stay at home.
“Being in a wheelchair in Afghanistan at every new and old building, the person needs to be carried by four or five people, in order to get up the stairs. I almost forgot being a disabled person after starting a new life in America although as soon as I arrived at Kabul Airport, I suddenly realized that I am a needy person. Now I have to look for others sorrowfully to help me get up any staircases.
“How can we fight this misery when no disabled person is able to come out from his or her home and moreover discuss the matters with leaders and politicians? I assume that if every disabled Afghan had a computer, a power wheelchair like me, they conclusively would stand next to me to fight for a change.
“I had the opportunity that allowed me to educate myself learning a new language and the use of technology. I have been learning English since I came to the US in 2003. I certainly believe that if we had these opportunities in Afghanistan, every disabled Afghan would be able to live a life without affliction and poverty.”
You can find out more about Fahim and his involvement with other Afghan Disabled people on his Facebook site
I recently posted this cartoon on Facebook and received emails from all over the world in support of the message that it contained. It’s not a new concept and I’ve lost count of the cartoons I’ve produced over the past couple of decades with the same message. But it still seems to hit the spot!
It seems that many of us Crips still feel oppressed and controlled by the many groups and organisations ‘for’ Disabled people that still exist, and who still insist that they are representing our aims and objectives.
Although some of these organisations have now started to include Disabled people on their management teams, there’s still a long way to go before all of these groups ‘for’ become groups ’of’ Disabled people and begin to truly represent us. Unfortunately, many of these groups ‘for’ are still wasting much of their resources on maintaining the status quo and are doing little to support us in our fight for Civil Rights.
Perhaps things could start to change if people, rather than just putting their money in the tins being rattled by disability groups, asked the question: “How many Disabled people are involved in the running of your organisation, and in what capacity?”.
World Wide movement
As well as regular contact with our friends in the States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, some of the emails I’ve received recently have been from Disabled people in Pakistan, India, Iraque, Afganistan, and Jordan. They are only just beginning to gain a voice in their own countries and have started to reach out to us here in the West to share our experiences of the fight for Civil Rights.
I’m starting to post links to some of these organisations on Facebook so if you’re a member and a friend of Crippen, please get in touch with them and offer your support. If you’re not yet a Facebook member, I recommend that you join and become a ‘friend’ of Crippen Disabled cartoonist. I’ll add you in and make sure that you’re kept up to speed with news and events.
Away from home
As some of you will be aware, I’m away from my home computer at the moment and relying on the use of Internet cafes and friends laptops to keep up to date with events and to post to my blog and other sites that I contribute to. It’s been great meeting up with old friends in the UK (although I’ve not been able to see everyone sadly) and if it wasn’t for the sun in Spain you know I’d be here braving the wet and cold with you all!
Disability Arts on Line (DAO)
Thanks to all you guys who have been logging on to this blog and other parts of the DAO site. It’s been fantastic to watch our figures grow as more of you become members and sign up to receive our newsletter. When you do visit, don’t be afraid to leave a comment on any of the blogs, etc. Even if it’s just to say hi!
BCC promised to work with DAN towards establishing genuine independent living for disabled people in Birmingham after their last action in March
(see report at http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/04/425854.html) achieved a meeting with Peter Hay (Director of Health and Social Care) and other Council officials. However, Peter Hay has not delivered on that promise, and 6 months later there has been no apparent change in BCC's treatment of disabled people.
Disabled people in Birmingham are still being refused assessments fordirect payments to employ Personal Assistants (which is breaking the legal obligation of all Local Authorities under the 1990 Community Care Act), being told by social workers that they do not have any needs or being bullied by council officials into signing agreements they do not want to sign, simply to save the council money.
DAN allege that there disabled people are still homeless, living in totally inaccessible housing, trapped against their will in nursing homes where they
have no choice and control over their own lives, or living in total social isolation and filthy conditions, not because of a lack of funding for
accessible housing and social support services, but because of the absence of
the political will to use council funding for those purposes.
A spokesperson for DAN says “How many more disabled people will have to die and how many more lives will be put at risk before BCC gives us our human rights?”
The action on September 14th will start at and will be in
Ok, I take the point from Richard Downes (last blog comments) that by only blaming the 2012 Olympics for the current lack of funding is being a bit simplistic, but I still hold to the belief that this huge white elephant is doing more damage in this area than all of the effects of the current recession combined. So here’s another cartoon along the same theme (sorry Richard!).
As part of Richard’s response however, he’s come up with an interesting idea. How about setting up our own Technothon to run head to head with Children in Need (CIN)? This would be a novel way to raise much needed funds and could draw a lot of attention away from the charitable/medical model approach that CIN rely upon to get those hard earned pounds from your pockets.
Many of you will be aware of the Facebook group ‘We shot Pudsey Bear’ which is facilitated by Richard and other Disabled activists. It quite rightly encourages debate about the stereo typing of Disabled people that is the main focus of the CIN fund raising. Portray us as pitiable and incapable of managing our own lives and the emotional blackmail kicks in and the public respond. Never mind that it reinforces the negative image that people have of us when they buy into this sort of thing.
Richard offers up some prospective recipients for any funding raised by a Technothon and these currently include Brent Advocacy Concerns (advocacy theme) and the Disabled people's Direct Action Network (political theme). What he’s also asking for are names for any group or organisation that you feel would represent disability arts for the arts theme?
I’m starting the ball rolling by putting up ‘Disability Arts on Line (DAO)!
Just leave your own nominations in the comments section of this blog and we’ll make sure Richard gets them.
Lord Mayor of London Boris
Johnson is under pressure to uphold
according to a survey undertaken by the London Development Agency (DLA),
A London 2012 spokeswoman said that around nine million tickets are expected to be sold for the 2012 Olympics but could not say how many of these are expected to be purchased by Disabled people.
The Mayor had ordered an audit of the capital's 100,000 rooms to check that enough are wheelchair accessible. The LDA is also spending £20.6million this year improving facilities for tourists and is seeking to convince hotels that it makes good business sense to increase their accessibility.
Currently there are around
11 million Disabled people in the
What’s in a name?
Still on a sports theme, spare
places for runners are being offered by the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity
for the Clarendon Run Marathon and half marathon (from
And the name of the person organising this?
Well I thought it was funny!
I’m hearing from groups and organisations of Disabled people who are continuing to have problems with fund raising. Some of this funding relates to events, performances and exhibitions that are being planned, whilst other funding is actually needed to keep these organisations running. We’ve already lost two of the biggest Disability Arts Forums due to a lack of available funding and it now looks as though many other smaller groups and organisations are considering closing down.
The problem is plain enough to see. The 2012 Olympics is continuing to be a large black hole into which most of the funding originally earmarked for charitable projects is being sucked. From the first estimate of 2.5 billion pounds, the amount of money that the 2012 Olympic Games has cost us so far is now over SEVEN BILLION pounds, and there’s still another couple of years before it opens.
If any of you have tried to obtain funding for an arts project recently you’ll find that an additional criteria has crept in … you now have to show just how your project will interact with the 2012 Olympic Games! This is the clearest indication to date just how the event has taken over so called charitable spending, diverting government spending, lottery earnings and many other established grant provision.
Apparently this is not new. The Roman emperors used to divert social funding to their own games whenever they felt that the general public needed a diversion; something to take their mind off of what was happening within the corrupt political arena. Sound familiar?!