Story of the One-legged Rickshawpuller

‘Disability’ – sometimes it seems to have relative definitions in different contexts. Or sometimes, it is completely a matter of internal feeling, self-realization. Put it this way – if you are ‘able’ to do a task properly, you will find that that ‘ability’ could be of help to other people. And you will always find someone who will appreciate your effort.

Mohammad Ziaur Rahman is a man with only one leg, and is the youngest among his five brothers. CA Actioneer Saif Mithu in his report writes more on the story of Zia’s life:

After his mother passed away, Zia’s brothers treated him like their servant. They also made sure that he received no share of his family wealth and resources. With a wife, two children and his father to look after, Zia’s wife persuaded him to go to Dhaka to find some work. But as a handicapped person, Zia had no previous work experience. Hence when he came to Dhaka for work, he had no choice but to become a “one-legged richshaw puller”.

One paddle is empty but still another one has support, isn't it? Mohammad Ziaur Rahman.

I met him randomly one evening on a busy road of Dhaka; I got a ride from him as his passenger. I remember, at that moment I was in a hurry but the puller was paddling at a tortoise’s pace. I grew a little angry when suddenly for the first time, I noticed that only one of the rickshaw paddles had foot-support, while the other one was empty!

Stand-Up Entrance: An average human life on earth rotates around zillions of sufferings. That said, life itself is full of inspiring stories that teach us how to win over those sufferings. Personally I like one quote by James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” When I was reflecting upon Zia’s struggle for his livelihood, I realized that Zia was an ideal candidate for CommunityAction’s “Action: Stand-up”, where the organization injects small amounts of money into realistic ambitious projects and then monitors candidates’ progress until they become economically stable.

Our Initiative: Zia came to meet me on several occasions and expressed his willingness to work on something other than pulling a rickshaw, which was a painful job for him. Also, most of the time the rickshaw owners hesitated to rent their rickshaw to him because of his disability. Furthermore, Zia would often fall sick from various infections as a result of being malnourished.

Actioneer Saif Mithu has been delegated this case to deal with. He is an amazing worker mashaAllah which everyone knows!

Actioneer Mithu and Annie with Ziaur Family

Earlier, a kind-hearted young man had wished to help, through CA, in such a case where a physically challenged person would be transformed into an active one. And so, CA has made this man Zia’s sponsor. So far, CA has contributed a total of 15000BDT to help Zia. With the initial donation of 5,000BDT in May 2011, Zia has set-up his own grocery shop; following this CA gave him another 7,000BDT to start up his business. As of now, Zia has spent 8,300 BDT to build the structure of his shop, and will use the remaining 6,700 BDT to buy selling products.

On May 28, 2011, Saif and his sister went to visit Zia’a village – Atikula, Pabna – to follow up on the progress.

Happy Zia vai infront of his newly built own shop

Zia’a Dreams: Zia’s long-term dream is to ensure that he can feed his children properly and educate them. He also intends to provide his father with the comfort of a separate room and an overall comfortable life. For himself, Zia eagerly plans on completing his studies.

His father and children

Actioneer’s Opinion: Actioneer Saif wrote: “If his brothers had worked together, they could have been a great source of support for Zia. In the past, Zia’s mother had always protected him because of his disability, which made Zia dependent and prevented him from obtaining any work experience. Thus, his mother’s death meant that Zia had to struggle to learn how to live an independent life.”

Zia has proved himself to be a man of strength and optimism, and is also fortunate to have a supportive wife.

Actioneer’s Future Plan for Zia

  • We will be following up on him regularly. We are considering to purchase a sewing machine for his wife so that she can put her sewing skills to good use.
  • We have planned to include the sales of Mobile cards and flexi-load in his shop as a guaranteed source of income.

Yet, there is always something more that can be done, which is why we don’t just celebrate our successes, but we also look forward to doing even more. After all, every life is a wonder and each human being has something to contribute.

Hopeless and helpless Zia vai before meeting Actioneers


Happy and hopeful Zia vai after meeting Actioneers :)










When one door of happiness closes, another door opens; but sometimes we look at the closed door for so long that we do not notice the new one which has been opened for us. And so, as ever-optimistic Actioneers, we should continue to search for the newly opened doors. We cannot deny that in a complex world, situations never change in a moment; but our search for open doors will bring in big change and transform the world, no doubt!

Photo Courtesy: Saif Mithu

About Sohaila Ridwan

Sohaila did Masters in Theoretical Physics and Bachelors in Physics from University of Dhaka. One founder and General Secretary at CommunityAction. E-mail:
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5 Responses to Story of the One-legged Rickshawpuller

  1. Ifra Iqbal says:

    I met Mr. Zia a couple of years ago back when I used to live in Lalmatia. I was also in a hurry to get home, so didn’t notice his predicament until I saw he was slow, & the reason WHY. I didn’t take it well, felt terrible that day for hiring that man. Even then, my mom explained that not hiring Zia would have meant that I am depriving him of his livelihood by cornering him as a ‘poor sad disabled man’. I felt really bad that even though we are fortunate in a countless number of ways, we choose to hide behind a shield of vague reasoning for not making a difference. There’s got to be more to life, right?

  2. less_addicted says:

    thnx to action aid for doing such a great job .

  3. This is a master piece. Thank you for this write-up.

  4. google says:

    I liked your article is an interesting technology
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