Wonder of the Disabled: The Transformative Power of Media


On May 13th, 1950, Judkins was born prematurely and had to face the consequences of excessive oxygen in his incubator, which left him blind at such a tender age. However, he was blessed to have a loving and supportive mother who taught his siblings to treat him fairly and with compassion. At a young age, he learned various musical instruments in the church, mainly piano, conga and harmonica.

His persistence paid off; everyone was amazed by his skill in playing musical instruments. The boss of the Motown record company, Berry Gordy, recognised his talent and immediately fell in love with Judkins. Berry’s assessment was correct. Judkins was a prodigy, and his fame began to rise. Gradually, Stevland Judkins, whose birth name was Stevland Morris, became known as Stevie Wonder.

Judkins is just one of many people with disabilities. Luckily, he has many supportive relatives, church community and parents. Even though many people with disabilities have talents, like Judkins they often have very few opportunities.

What about other disabled people? Unlucky? Luck still needs to be added to their side. In many developing countries such as India, Nepal, and Kenya, extreme poverty is inherent, making support for educational develolpment very unaffordable.

That is why DDP strives for positive development to provide opportunities for persons with disability.

In Burundi, the Twunganire Abahungutse program aimed to resettle and reintegrate displaced Burundian people and former refugees. It addressed issues such as undocumented births and provided access to training and materials to start small businesses. The project partnership received the 2015 Ockenden International Prize.

Moving to South Asia, in 2018-2019, we partnered with the Social Development and Education Trust (SDET) in Tamil Nadu, India, in 2013. SDET supports children with learning disabilities and those from poor communities. We helped re-equip their vocational computer training centre, which has trained over 400 disadvantaged and disabled young people from low-income families. We would like to be able to support SDET as they construct a new residential block for young men who have nowhere else to live.

We have carried out many other projects. Is that enough? As John Bunyan advised, ‘We have not lived today until we have done something for someone who can never repay us’.

Stevie Wonder, with his remarkable career as a singer-songwriter, later became the United Nations Messenger for Peace. He launched the “Declaration of Freedom for People with Disabilities.” He is now an inspiration to bring hope and light to the millions around the world who live with disabilities.

Stevie Wonder hopes that visually impaired people will overcome the information deprivation they often face. “It is… a plan that will empower the independence of people with disabilities by providing them with the tools to learn and grow. Books on science, medicine, history, and philosophy would help young people with disabilities to be fully educated and one day live out their dream of being a prime minister, doctor, writer, or teacher.”

Written by Zain

Image by: By
Jack de Nijs for Anefo – Stevie Wonder (zanger) voor TROS-TV. Stevie Wonder
tijdens repetitieDutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen
Nederlands Persbureau (ANeFo), 1945-1989,Auteursrechthebbende Nationaal Archief
CC-BY-SA, Nummer toegang Bestanddeelnummer 920-8212, CC0,