Today is the annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities which was first established by the United Nations in 1992.

Research by the World Health Organization has found that people living with a disability are more likely to live in poverty than those who are not disabled, with these findings being prevalent in low and middle-income countries. People with disabilities in developing countries have limited education and employment opportunities and do not have access to the best medical care that could potentially reduce the severity of their condition.

It should come as no surprise that many disabled persons rely on family carers to assist them with their day-to-day living. For the 200 million people in the world who have considerable difficulty in functioning as a result of their disability, 24-hour care may be required which also impacts the life and employment opportunities of the family member or friend who provides the care. Developed countries have invested heavily in adapting public buildings and transport to enable people with physical disabilities to be able to lead independent lives. Examples of this can be found everywhere from elevators in buildings to wheelchair ramps on buses. The same level of accessibility is not available to those living in developing countries meaning the carer needs to accompany the person living with a disability everytime they wish to leave the house.

Developed countries have invested heavily in adapting public buildings and transport to enable people with physical disabilities to be able to lead independent lives. Examples of this can be found everywhere from elevators in buildings to wheelchair ramps on buses. The same level of accessibility is not available to those living in developing countries meaning the carer needs to accompany the person living with a disability everytime they wish to leave the house.

There are numerous charities and NGOs who focus on improving the lives of people living with disabilities and many work with carers, enabling them to learn how to better look after the person with the disability. However, in many cases, the well being and needs of the carer are not seen as a priority. Vidya from South India is the mother of a 6 year old son who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was just 6 months old.

Samuha, a local NGO, guided Vidya on how she could carry out exercises and activities with her severely disabled son but were unable to offer support to Vidya herself, who was feeling incredibly isolated and withdrawn.

When we visited Vidya, we discovered she had a flair for art and embroidery as many of her works were on display across her home. We worked alongside Samuha to identify a market where her work could be sold which helps to reduce her financial worries. Vidya can work on her embroidery from home, meaning that she can continue to care for her son and not compromise on meeting his needs.

As well as setting up the income-earning opportunity, we helped the Samuha staff to build a support group for local carers so Vidya, and others in her position, can provide emotional support to one another. Both of these actions show how we focus on the well being of carers as individuals and not on their role as carers.

As we pause to consider the people who live with disabilities on this day, we should also turn our thoughts to the millions of carers whose lives are restricted as a result of their caring duties and who have no external support. Here, at Carers Worldwide, we are the only charity working exclusively to meet the needs of carers in developing countries.

Please help us to continue to improve their lives by making a donation today.