Here’s a little exercise. What comes to mind when you hear the word minority? Now, imagine yourself with a handicap – either a physical or mental disability. Consider the little things like getting out of bed and making your way to the bathroom or the even the simpler actions of making it to a bus or up a flight of steps? What if you had to navigate your way around on crutches or a wheelchair? Would your life change, slow you down? What you have just reflected on, should have hopefully given you a little bit of insight about the types of challenges a person with a disability may face on a daily basis.
Disability is not inability though the world is made exclusively for people who are not disabled. The biggest minority community in the world are the world’s disabled community. According to the World Health Organization, there are more than one billion people living with some form of disability. However, whether we are disabled or able bodied, we all have a responsibility towards the disabled to make our societies inclusive for everyone.
Which is why the E.A.S.E. Foundation exists. Its mission is to change social attitudes and teach the world to celebrate diversity. E.A.S.E. Foundation creates awareness and educates people with disabilities, their families and society. People with disabilities need a good education and a viable system of communication to take their rightful place in life and society. According to the foundation,
Our co-founder and co-president, Chandima (Chammi) Rajapatirana and his family lived in USA for 31 years while his father was employed by the World Bank. Chandima was diagnosed with autism at the age of four years. Back then, even in the US, autism was considered a tragic fate and some experts predicted that Chandima’s life would be spent in institutions. Today he is a published poet, an award winning author and helps run an organization dedicated to enabling people with disabilities create productive, stimulating lives. We have brought to Sri Lanka the knowledge, methodologies and attitude that defeated what was predicted for him.
Deeply dissatisfied with the standard of education in special needs schools in the US, his mother Mrs. Anoja Rajapatirana set out to learn as much as she could about autism. Many schools and home programs were trialled. And today, Chandima has beaten all pessimistic projections of his future. The key to this was “presuming competence” – which equipped his mother to educate him – and gaining a system of communication which enabled him to convey his thoughts and feelings fluently.
When Chandima was finally – after 18 years of silence – able to communicate, he wrote often about how the ability to communicate ‘eased’ his life. When the Foundation was being set-up, we decided that its purpose was to ease the life of people with disabilities. How would such lives be eased but through Education, Advocacy, Support and Empowerment? And that is what we do today.
E.A.S.E. Foundation was set up to help children as well as adults benefit from the knowledge that Mrs. Rajapatirana acquired over the years and the insider information that Chandima has about the experience of autism and disability. The family has brought all the elements of those education systems that made a positive impact on Chandima’s life to Sri Lanka. We continue to learn from leaders and pioneers in the field of disability education and inclusion.
The volunteer board of trustees at E.A.S.E. Foundation comprises people with relevant experience and impeccable reputation. Our foundation was set up with a constitution developed by a lawyer from a leading law firm. We are registered as a non-governmental social service organisation and are committed to transparency and accountability.
Courtesy E.A.S.E. Story
EASE stands for: Education, Advocacy, Support & Empowerment. EASE Foundation advocates that people with disabilities belong in mainstream life, with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities enjoyed by society at large.
Education includes presuming competence, connecting mind and body and educating parents. Advocacy includes changing attitudes, workshops. Support includes courageous mothers, support programs and medical camps. Empowerment includes the employment project, empowering the child and success stories.
How can we help? Inclusion is an attitude — one that welcomes and accepts every individual, regardless of any and all differences, as a valuable member of society whether it be in our own families, classrooms, places of worship, offices; volunteer and donate.
Every rupee helps. You can donate via wire transfer to: E A S E FoundationHatton National BankBranch: ThalangamaAccount #: 085010011661Swift code: HBLILKLX
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