Abdur Rob Sikder lost his eyesight about 29 years ago.
The 63-year-old of Nachnapara village in Kalapara upazila lost his eyesight from a severe attack of typhoid and since then he became a burden for his family.
Four years after losing his vision, his first wife, son and two daughters left him as he could not feed them. He now begs for a living as he does not get disability allowance, said Rob.
Later he married Sahida Begum in 2002 and they have a sixth-grader son. Sahida is helping him to run the family by making cake (bhapa pitha) and working as domestic help.
During a recent visit to Nachnapara intersection, this correspondent found Sahida making bhapa pitha while Rob was sitting beside her.
“Besides making bhapa pitha, I have to serve as domestic help so that my son can continue study as we want to give him higher education,” said Sahida.
Like Rob, many physically and mentally challenged people here don't get any government support as about 60 percent of them are out of allowance coverage, said Patuakhali social welfare office sources.
There are 18,860 identified physically and mentally challenged people in all eight upazilas of the district but Jatiya Protibondhi Unnayan Foundation (National Disabled Development Foundation) under Social Welfare Ministry, which provides treatment through mobile van as a part of the step taken by the ministry, claimed there are as many as 22,653 identified physically and mentally challenged people in the district. Of them 13,640 are male and 9,013 are female, said Nayan Moni Biswas, disabled affairs officer of the foundation.
Of them, over 13,000 are not getting disability allowance. A physically and mentally challenged person gets Tk 600 a month, said the office sources.
Masudur Rahman Shimu, chairman of Tiakhali Union Parishad, said they will include Rob when they update list of physically challenged people for allowance.
Contacted, Kalapara upazila social welfare officer Muntasir Billah said he did not know about the matter as he recently joined here.
But he will try to include Rob in the list of physically challenged people, said the officer.
Shila Rani Das, deputy director of social welfare department, said they can't give allowance to all physically and mentally challenged persons due to shortage of fund.
As per allocation, they prepare the list to bring them under the social safety coverage programme, she said.