Welcome back to Episode 19 in our ongoing series. Thus far we have spanned the globe with blind citizens Around the world, from Australia and Malaysia, to the United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago, and much more
Our guest today is Manique Gunaratne, who comes to us from Sri Lanka. Manique’s story speaks of the situation that she and other disabled citizens of Sri Lanka experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic this year. This in itself is not unusual. All of our guests have described their experiences in this way. What makes this report different is the contrast of the successful handling of the Corona virus by the nation of Sri Lanka, at least in the traditional statistical measures we are accustomed to seeing, as it is juxtaposed with her story of difficult conditions and sacrifices made by disabled persons in her country.
Sri Lanka is and island nation of about 21 million, in southern Asia, bordered by India and the Maldives. After enduring a brutal civil war and a devastating tsunami which killed more than 35000, Sri Lanka has worked to regain its reputation as a premiere travel and vacation
destination, known for its picturesque beaches, waterfalls and laid back lifestyle. It was once again poised as a world class tourist destination in early 2020 when the Corona virus stopped it in its tracks, just as it did every other country around the globe.
Fortunately, their prompt efforts to stop the virus’ progress had immediate success, at least statistically as we have learned about fighting the virus. The challenge we have here, as listeners, is to weigh that success against the sacrifices and adverse impact on the disabled community that were necessary to achieve it.
While the government closed all schools early on, and students were relegated to home virtual learning, many of the online learning resources were inaccessible for disabled individuals, particularly the visually impaired. Disabled individuals who are already restricted have found a quarantine even more restrictive.
Manique also lays out several problems caused by the exposure of families being together constantly, such as friction over financial problems and even gender and family violence.
Listen as Manique shares her views and recommendations for how Sri Lanka can improve the conditions of disabled citizens in future emergent situations in this, the 19th episode in our COVID-19 series.
Special thanks go out to Chee Chau, for his beautiful song and titled Wayfarer.
Be sure to tune in to more informative episodes to hear how your BVI counterparts around the world are coping with and adapting to COVID-19.
Contact Your State Services
If you reside in Minnesota, and you would like to know more about Transition Services from State Services contact Transition Coordinator Sheila Koenig by email or contact her via phone at 651-539-2361.
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