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“Our main strength is unity; there is no alternative to unity. The campaign has given us this opportunity.”

A photo of Morjina, a member of the Equal Bangladesh campaign, holding a photo of herself with the word 'change' written on it.

Morjina founded the Disabled Welfare Society in 2004, initially hand transcribing audio to braille for students with disabilities in Bangladesh.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to become involved with the disability movement?

“When I was a child, I contracted smallpox, which unfortunately led to my blindness. As a visually impaired student, I faced significant difficulties due to the limited availability of braille books. Drawing on my struggles, I harboured a long-standing aspiration to establish an organisation supporting visually impaired students by providing braille materials. I embarked on this journey by collaborating with like-minded individuals and eventually registered our organisation Disabled Welfare Society in 2004 alongside one of my female friends.

Looking back, I realize the courage it took to embark on this endeavour. At the early stage of our organisation, we focused on producing braille books despite lacking resources. I worked tirelessly from home, transcribing audio content into braille for students. Although this process often left my hands sore, I persevered in my mission.”

What is society like for people with disabilities in Bangladesh? What are the general attitudes toward disability?

“The current situation has shown significant improvement compared to the past. We have noticed a positive shift in people’s attitudes towards us. In the past, many individuals avoided us, labelled us in a derogatory way, and were afraid of us. However, these instances have decreased, and we are witnessing a notable increase in our acceptance within society. However, we still have a long way to go, and I believe that people are more positive about us now than before.”

What do you think has helped create this change?

“During my student days, I was actively involved in a forum called NFOWD (National Forum of Organizations Working with Disabled). This forum acted as a robust network, organising meetings and seminars with government officials to address various pressing issues. While that forum is no longer active as before, its legacy lives on through the Equal Bangladesh campaign. It is a great platform where you can collaborate, discuss your issues, and advocate for change together. With continued collective action, hopefully, there will be more positive changes tailored to our needs.”

What are your hopes for the Equal Bangladesh campaign?

“The most significant change that needs to happen in the next one or two years is the effective implementation of our laws. If OPDs can collaborate with the government and various sectors, then I believe it will be possible to achieve the changes we desire. This collaboration will provide OPDs with better opportunities to engage in discussions, undertake activities for our rights, and consult with decisionmakers to advance effective implementation.”

What do you think is the main strength of the campaign?

“Our main strength is unity; there is no alternative to unity. The campaign has given us this opportunity. If we all join the campaign and make sure to work together, we can hope to bring about positive changes.”

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A girl, who has albinism and is wearing glasses and a mask, sits in a classroom.
Eleven-year-old Noutene, who has albinism, attends an inclusive school in Mali.
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