“I no longer feel excluded because of my disability”, – proudly said Sadafmo Rahmatova, a 41-year old woman with disability whom I met at the State Enterprise of Orthopedic Plant Dushanbe (SEOP).
Sadafmo was born in Dashtijum, a remote mountainous village located in the southern part of Tajikistan. In 1995, when she turned 18, her parents decided to marry her to a villager.
It happened on her wedding day
Everything was well prepared and Sadafmo was getting ready to meet her future husband at his place.
Sadafmo could only remember a terrible noise in her ears after a severe mine blast… then she lost consciousness. When she regained her senses, she realized that she had lost her right leg and her body was full of debris.
The same year, Sadafmo was fitted with a prosthesis in Azerbaijan, with ICRC’s support. When she came back to Tajikistan, she finally celebrated her marriage. She lived for 2 years with her husband and their son, until her mother-in-law kicked her and her son out, saying that her disability was a burden on the family.
A fighter against all odds
Keeping her hopes up, she successfully completed a sewing and embroidering course at a Boarding School for persons with disabilities and she graduated as an electric sewing-machine operator.
In 2007, she participated at an International Conference for Demining which took place in Columbia. She raised the issue of anti-personnel mines in Tajikistan and called for an immediate demining campaign.
Conference attendees were touched by Sadafmo’s testimony and some even bought her some embroideries that she made in Tajikistan. She returned home full of motivation to share her story, but also confident about the future.
Breaking the vicious circle of discrimination
After her accident, Sadafmo felt ashamed and alone with her disability. The burden of stigma was so heavy for her that she no longer had the courage to talk to people. She gradually locked herself into a vicious circle of loneliness and did not feel able to get out.
The help and support she received at the SEOP Rehabilitation Centre helped her get up, believe in herself and even find a profession and a new meaning to her life.
Today she dedicates her life to her son’s education, to her work, but also to promoting the rights of people with disabilities.
As told to Abdurashid Kurbonov, MoveAbility Project Manager in Tajikistan