No matter the obstacle, Kiran is pushing ahead

Youth Skills in South Asia

UNICEF Nepal
Kiran turns around to look at the camera, she is in her blue school uniform surrounded by small houses with beige plaster walls.
UNICEF Nepal/2019

02 October 2019

Nepal – Around the world, approximately 93 million children are living with a disability. Kiran, a 14-year-old from Nepal, is one of those individuals. For most of her childhood, Kiran was not able to use her legs like the other children in her village.

“My legs were not straight,” Kiran said. “I used to have to walk to school for 30 minutes every day, and my legs would hurt a lot during that walk. The pain made me cry sometimes.”

Since then, Kiran has had three surgeries. Though it no longer hurts to walk, Kiran’s continues to struggle with a lack of accessibility. Studies have shown the cost of integrating accessibility into new buildings can amount to less than one per cent of the capital development cost. Still, schools throughout the world continue to be ill-equipped to support disabled children.

“Our school is not disability-friendly,” she said. “I wish the management paid more attention to children with disabilities."

"Children like me should be able to raise these issues with teachers and the school management, and to have these issues addressed.”

— Kiran

There are millions of children like Kiran who are forced to find ways to succeed despite a lack of accommodation for their disabilities. Children with disabilities experience heightened levels of inequality and abuse, even in the places they should feel the safest. In schools, for example, disabled children are three times more likely to experience physical violence than their peers. Children with disabilities are also less likely to start school – and if they do begin their studies, they are less likely to transition to the secondary level.  

 “Children with disabilities need special care both physically and emotionally,” Kiran said. “They need to be motivated and encouraged. Our voices should be heard, and our ambitions should be respected.”

Kiran, in a pink shirt, smiles at the camera, holding her knee.
UNICEF Nepal/2019
Kiran is dedicated to succeeding in her studies at school, where she is at the top of her class.

For generations, children with disabilities have been underestimated – but girls and boys like Kiran are refusing to let stereotypes stop them. Kiran recently placed second-best in her entire school, scoring higher than 84 other students. Kiran is dedicated to her studies and determined to continue to higher education.

“I hope to become a doctor someday and help people who are ill,” Kiran said.