35-year-old Zubair Ahmed Shah, a resident of New Delhi’s Madanpur Khadar has locomotor disability. Despite completing his primary education, Zubair has been denied any livelihood opportunities due to his disability. He came into contact with Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and its Virtual Livelihood Resource Centres (VLRC) program. In partnership with Leonard Cheshire, the programme aims to generate livelihood opportunities and improve skills of Person with Disabilities (PwD).
Zubair wanted to share the burden of his elder brother, who has a responsibility of four family members, but he was unable to find a job. He wanted to pursue higher studies during his formative age, but financial hardship forced him to leave his studies. DEF’s team helped him in exploring some avenues of livelihood opportunities through digital interventions. The pandemic only worsened the unemployment rate in the country, adding to Zubair’s problems.
The pandemic brought many other problems with it- unemployment, hunger and fake news. Initially, Zubair was hesitant to take the vaccine as rumours around the vaccine spread across the country. He said “I have heard whoever takes the vaccine will die eventually in 2-3 years.” His sister also told him that her cousin died after taking the vaccine.
As the second wave of pandemic came in April 2021, Zubair’s anxiety around the unpredictable nature of the virus also grew. Seeing the devastation around put him in a difficult place. DEF approached him and addressed his fear of the vaccine. He was informed about the realities of the vaccine. DEF has been debunking misinformation and fake news related to the pandemic throughout the country. Once he was convinced he tried to take the vaccine, but disability and lack of resources were a barrier. DEF’s team contacted the local administration and transport was arranged for him. After taking the vaccine Zubair is safer, however, his struggle is not over yet. He is still looking for a job. But he now feels more confident as he has the support of DEF’s VLRC team; they are helping him find a job.