Development and Strengthening Self-Help Groups and DPOs:
Recognising Self-help is the best help CSID is keen to develop and strengthen the small self-help groups and DPOs with the representation of self-help groups. To ensure participation of primary programme participants in decision making process and rights movement Developing Self-Help and Advocacy Groups (SHAG) is one of the CSID’s programme implementation strategies. In every project of CSID, which is community and rights based and scope to involve programme participants (target beneficiaries may persons with disabilities even children or women with disabilities) developing and strengthening SHGs and DPOs is being as built-in strategy.
CSID developed 10 SHAGs of Persons with Disabilities in Barisal, 10 in Keranigonj, 10 in Savar and 3 SHAG of Children with Disabilities in Dhaka and 1 SHAG of children and 1 of Youth with Disabilities in Sylhet and empowered them. There are 20 members in each group.
Conception of developing Self-Help & Advocacy Group (SHAG) of persons with disabilities by CSID:
In the development field of disability "Self-help movement" is one of the popular and recognised approach. Ensuring participation of target grous in situation analysis, programme planning/ designing, and monitoring /evaluation is recognised in the modern development concept. Participation is not possible until they are organized and well informed regarding their situation, rights and issues to be addressed; and their capacity enhance in organizing/conducting rights movement, and communication for advocacy.
So, CSID undertook strategy to organization building and empowerment of parsons with disabilities, making them rights sensitive and build their capacity in demanding their rights through self-advocacy activities.
In the self-help movement unity is one of the important issues. To be united formation of group is the only way.
Objectives of developing Self-Help & Advocacy groups:
1. To make them unite.
2. To make the persons with disabilities well informed about their existing situation and right sensitive.
3. To make them well equipped and activate to perform self-advocacy towards establishing their rights.
4. To ensure their participation in decision making process in all aspects that affects their lives.
The process of forming SHAG and empowerment:
Prior to formation of the SHAGs, CSID invited the identified Persons with Disabilities and organised some meetings without any agenda. CSID facilitated them to be introduced with each other and discuss openly and informally whatever they like and concern staff just observed without saying anything. Our idea was bit different from the traditional practice regarding group formation/institution building and management, which others are following. From the very beginning our intention was not to impose anything and we were careful to make the persons with disabilities understand that nothing is being imposed on them by us.
The persons with disabilities have been introduced each other and discussions were made regarding personal affairs, family affairs, education, work, living condition, economical condition, social situation, problems/barriers facing in daily life etc. In the mean time a close relation and common understanding among members established. They were enjoying the meeting very much because it was the first time in their life they met together in meeting like this and got opportunity to talk freely, express opinion, which they never thought of as they were habituated to receive mal-treatment and never heard by anybody. At the same time they also found in the meetings some indiscipline is arising, someone trying to dominate others, some are talking loudly, some are teasing others, someone going out and not coming back etc. and they started to make complaints and opined that, there should be some rules to be followed in the meeting. This was for their realisation and learning that, to manage and operate any group there should be some rules and a management policy.
The concern staff member asked them what is your suggestions, what to do to eliminate these problems? They suggested there should be some rules and conditions for meeting and after a long discussion they also realised and mentioned about formation of Group management policy including determining the Goal, Objectives, and Activities of the Group. Through a series of workshop facilitated by CSID the SHAG members formulated the group management policy and set the Goal, Objectives, and Activities. CSID also facilitated the participants to organise workshops on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Problem analysis, Analysis of root and immediate causes of the problems, Duty bearer analysis, and preparing action plan. CSID only facilitating the workshops and providing relevant information to make them able to undertake right decisions without imposing anything. All the decisions regarding the group activities and project planning are being made by the participants.
The principles CSID followed in the empowerment process are:
1. Not to impose any thing.
2. Providing with appropriate, relevant and adequate information.
3.Ensuring self- realisation of the issues/problems through facilitation.
4. Ensuring active participation in all aspect including decision-making process.
Some examples of rights movement by SHAG of children with disabilities:
CSID formed Self-Help & Advocacy groups of Street Children with Disabilities in 2002 under a project supported by Save the Children. As the only empowered and active group of Children and Young People with Disabilities in Bangladesh, this group has been participated in the following major events and raised their voice against discrimination of Children with Disabilities and demanded to consider the issues related to disability in formulating any policy and or Plan of Action for the Children in Government or NGO level:
Consultation of UN Outcome document on the Rights of the Child “A World fit for Children” and sent their concerns and comments/recommendations as representative of Children with Disabilities of Bangladesh.
1. Say Yes for Children movement.
2. Discussion meeting between Government representatives and representatives of Children.
3. UN Shadow Session of children.
4. Child Parliament organised by children groups.
5. Pratham Alo Round Table Conference on “Rights of Children’s participation in Formulation of National Policy.
6. Divisional level sharing meetings on participation of children in the National Plan of Action (NPA) for the Children.
7. Central level sharing meeting on National Plan of Action for the Children.
8. The Disabled Children’s advocacy group members were involved with the consultation process regarding UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) from the year 2006. One representative Md. Rubel Hossain from Children’s advocacy group of CSID participated in the 7th session of Ad Hoc Committee regarding UN Disability Convention held at New York, USA with recommendations from National consultation and raised voice towards inclusion of specific Children issues in the convention. Representatives of Children with disabilities from Bangladesh, UK and China participated in the meeting. After this meeting under Article # 7 of CRPD specific issues to be addressed for ensuring rights of Children with Disabilities included. The convention has been adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2006 and the Government of Bangladesh ratified the convention 12 May 2008.
All other SHAGs are active and engaged in rights movement in their localities in view of improving their lifestyle. CSID is in process to develop 3 DPOs with the representation of leaders from SHAGs in Savar, Keranigonj and Barisal. Capacity of these DPOs would further be developed in organization management, situation analysis, programme/advocacy planning and implementation strategies, Leadership and effective communication. To achieve legitimacy the DPOs would be supported to be registered with Department of Social Services and NGO Affairs Bureau.