Children are playing on the field; two boys are standing at the edge of the field watching them. They are brothers. The younger one is supporting the elder brother who looks different from the other children. Elder brother is intellectually disabled, with additional physical disabilities. The two boys are not invited to join the game. The other children believe that they his disability is contagious.
This was a common scenario throughout my childhood in a small village called Raisimul in Bangladesh. Society stigmatized and discriminated our family because of my brother’s disability. I grew up as a lonely and unhappy child as I too was subjected to name-calling and bullying from the other children.
My brother, Hadi is six years older than me, but we had to start school at the same time due to his intellectual disability. Teachers and students did not welcome us as cheerfully as the other newcomers. Other students avoided us. There was no place for us to go for socializing. I used to cry to my mother and tell her about the incidents that occurred at school. It was a dilemma for me. Love for my brother on one hand and my education and social inclusion on the other. At one point, I left Hadi at home and still the other students continued to torment me.
These daily experiences only ended when I finally left my home area at the age of ten to go to a new school. Still, the fear of being discriminated remained with me. I always used to hide details about my family to my friends in school. The fear haunted me for years.
Through Oniruddah Bangladesh, I want to include the children and youth with intellectual disabilities by using sports as a tool. I envision a world where hearts and playgrounds are open for all