One of the other important areas that we agreed to show was work, as this is one of the areas identified as a specific problem for disabled people. Adilzhan tries to do what he can to earn money, as he told me: it’s a matter of importance (and not a little pride) for a man to be self-sufficient, particularly in Asian society. He showed me some soaps that he had manufactured with a view to selling them on local craft markets. The problem is that this does not provide a steady income, and requires the materials to be bought up front.
I’d like to get some images of soap-making, but since the materials cost money, which is a bit of a raw nerve with Adilzhan, I try not to push the issue. There is also the possibility of me giving him the money, but I have some issues with that.
On this particular visit, we went to the local mosque, where the caretaker, Farkhat, is teaching Adilzhan how to repair shoes.
Since we had not agreed beforehand that we were shooting, I put my camera away until we’d explained to Farkhat what we were doing and the significance of the project. Once he’d listened to me, he agreed with enthusiasm, and told me that it is a worthwhile project. Later on it turned out that his niece is also disabled; this may not be the reason why he agreed, but I have found that people who have a disabled member of the family, or have had some contact with disabled people are much more open to talking about disability and the stereotypes and stigma attached to it.
The idea is that with this knowledge, Adilzhan can then go on to repair shoes himself and make money. We went to the market to get some supplies, and then back home to get to work.
Very soon, Adilzhan’s first real customer appeared – his neighbour who needed her trainers resoled:
I managed to get some good shots of this process, just which pictures and how many I end up using depends again on the interview material .