By Jay Ruderman
When you take a look at what people with disabilities experience in a place like Uzbekistan, you dramatically witness the vast extremes in services around the globe. You also appreciate that, despite our very real challenges, how much better life can be – and should be — regardless of our abilities.
My wife and I visited that country last week and what we saw was truly sobering.
We had the opportunity to visit with Aleksey, a fourteen year old Jewish boy, living in a fourth floor walk-up in Tashkent with his mother and grandmother. With no possibility for an education and almost no visitors, Aleksey’s life is one of nearly total confinement and isolation. In fact his mother told us (through a translator) that he was so excited when we visited because he never hears a man’s voice.
Apparently in Uzbekistan the only option open to a child in Aleksey’s condition, outside of confinement to his home, would be to send him to an institution where his life expectancy would be very short. This home visit was heartbreaking to say the least and the child’s face remains with me, reminding me of how many lives are lived in nearly total isolation. And how much there to be done before true inclusion exists in our world.
I did ask his mother why she didn’t take Aleksey to Israel where there are services that could certainly help him. She answered that she didn’t believe that his elderly grandmother would be able to make the journey.
This mother is faced with an impossible choice. Her situation and that of her son serve as powerful reminders of how much disparity exists around this globe and how much the international community needs to embrace – and enforce – the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
— Jay Ruderman