A catalyst for the development of persons with disabilities
Livingston was like any other normal child until the age of two. An attack of polio affected both his legs and left him with 90% locomotor disability. His first contact with CBRFâ€™s Partner IRCDS was in 2005 when he was given the opportunity to speak about the issues faced by the persons with disabilities in Tiruvallur Block on World Disability Day.
From September 2006 onward, the staff at IRCDS met Livingston at regular intervals and interacted with him about the formation of a Disabled Personsâ€™ Organisation (DPO) in his village (Ekkadu). As a result, the first Village level DPO â€“ named Ekkadu DPO, was formed in Tiruvallur Block. Following this, he attended several training programmes for DPO members/leaders on entitlements for the disabled.
He was elected as the President of Vasantham Federation, a Block level DPO (BDPO) federation for Tiruvallur Block. In 2009, a BDPO office was opened in Ekkadu to carry out the Federationâ€™s activities. On September 11, 2010, Livingston was democratically elected as the President of the District Level Federation which consists of two Block level DPOs. This Federation was registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act.
Livingston has acted as a catalyst for the development of various persons with disabilities. He has helped 42 persons with disabilities in acquiring employment and played a role in conducting the marriage of persons with disabilities. Today, Livingston has become a familiar face for persons with disabilities in the State. He has also received two awards:
Valnal Sathaniyalar (Lifetime achiever) by Revenue Minister of Tamil Nadu on World Disability Day celebrations in 2013, and
Best Social Worker Awardâ€ by Chennai based Citizen Forum in March 2014.
He is an Advisory Committee member of Southern Railways, contributing ideas to making the Railways accessible. He is also a member on the District level Coordination Committee.
One needs to work persistently towards securing a sustainable livelihood because without this, nothing substantial can be achieved. – Livingston
Text editing and photo by Samarthya India