Sightsavers Reports

“I’d like to be in the community, but I feel like it can’t happen”

Dallu sits alone all day.

Dallu is sociable and affectionate: while talking to people, she holds their hand and guesses their age by touch.

She has so much spirit, so much life in her, but she spends all day, every day, sitting on her bed, doing nothing at all. Dallu, who’s 28, lost her sight after contracting smallpox at the age of seven. She lives with her father and other family members – but because they worry about her getting hurt, she rarely goes out.

“Because of my blindness, when I move around even inside the house sometimes I fall or hit the wall,” she explains. She tells us she only goes out “a couple of times a year”.

Dallu standing the doorway of her house.

Struggling with social exclusion in India

Although she’s married, Dallu doesn’t see her husband. Her mother used to look after her, but died two years ago. Since then, if Dallu has any problems, her family members say they should send her to her in-laws’ house.

She’d love to be able to do things for herself, like filling a bucket of water to take a shower, but says her family have to do it for her. She has no independence, and it’s devastating to see how resigned she is to her situation. She says: “I can’t do anything and I don’t want to do anything. If you put the cot there and tell me to sit there, I will do it.”

The impact of disability stigma

Read the transcript of Dallu’s interview.

Dallu deserves more than this out of life. But she’s stuck inside as the weeks, months and years pass by, solely because of a misguided belief held by her family, her community, and even herself, that she doesn’t have the ability or potential to achieve anything more.

“I want to be happy and see my family happy – who doesn’t want that? – but I don’t think it will be like that,” she says. “I’d like to go out and be in the community, but I just feel like it can’t happen.”

Dallu standing outside is a rare event.
All images ©Graeme Robertson

Join our campaign for a more inclusive world

When it’s time for me to leave, Dallu hugs us goodbye, and as we’re walking out of the house, we turn back to look at her. She’s sitting on the bed, expressionless, shoulders slumped.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. There are millions of people with disabilities in developing countries who are treated like Dallu, sitting at home ignored and alone. Their vast potential is shrinking because of the belief that people with disabilities aren’t worth educating and will never amount to anything.

This doesn’t have to be the case – that’s why our disability rights campaign exists. We think everyone deserves a chance to live their life and realise their potential. Do you?

We campaign for a fairer world

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Dallu hopes one day she and her family can be happy.

“I just want to be happy and see my family happy.”

Dallu hopes one day she and her family can be happy.

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