Do you have a story about IFES' work? At IFES, our goal is to empower all citizens to participate fully in their country's political affairs and vote in credible elections. If you have benefited from IFES' work, or you know someone who has, please share your experiences with us. For guidance, see the example from Ibu Rosidah below or write to StoryBank@ifes.org.
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Looking Through the Lens of Another
Having been born without arms, I have learned to navigate my life as if I didn't have a disability. From a young age, I learned alternative ways of doing the things everyone else does. This includes taking pictures. People are often stunned to learn I am a photographer when I don't have hands to hold a camera, but taking pictures is not only something I am able to do, it is also the way I make my living.
In September 2011, IFES hired me to photograph some events it was hosting with AGENDA. AGENDA stands for ASEAN General Election Network for Disability Access. Based in Indonesia, it coordinates the efforts of organizations in the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand that work on issues of persons with disabilities. In the events I was photographing, AGENDA was ensuring that Indonesians with disabilities had access to polls during ongoing regional elections.
As I was covering the AGENDA events, I became aware of the issues and obstacles facing disabled voters. I also became aware of the fact that people with disabilities have rights that help them exercise their franchise on an equal footing with the rest of the population. This was especially striking to me because in my hometown, disability is considered by many to be a disgrace. Many believe persons with disabilities are not able to function as other people in the community. The fact that laws exist to protect and ensure people who have disabilities have equal access is a revelation.
Since I discovered this, I have returned to my hometown and informed all the people I know who have disabilities. I am so happy to know that there are people who care about the rights of disabled people.
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