A non-governmental organisation, Walk Beyond Freedom From Restraint Initiative, has called on government, civil society and the global community to provide laws and policies which guarantee inclusion, equal rights and self-esteem of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) for sustainable development.
The Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of the organisation, Mrs Anongiah Abei made the call on Tuesday at an event organised by the NGO as part of the Christmas season celebration for PWDs where wheelchairs, crutches and other supportive aids were donated to twenty identified beneficiaries.
In her opening speech, Mrs Abei said, the NGO is aimed at promoting the well-being and improve the quality of life of PWDs to enable them lead a life of dignity and independence.
Abei said, “we are donating these supportive aids for persons with disabilities because we know they are not readily available and they are expensive. We believe there’s a lot that can be done to help and we will ensure that they fill forms with their details so we know where we can help.”
One of the international partners to the NGO, Mr Wilson Abei said, he would assist the organisation both locally and internationally so the PWDs can be empowered, “but as for them, they shouldn’t give up on themselves so far their brain is intact, they can do anything.
“I will make sure I solicit for help from my business partners on job placements, communications skill and all that we can,” he promised.
Mr Abei urged PWDs to put their challenges aside and focus on what they can do better.
“Once your brain is intact, there’s nothing you cannot do because physical disability is not mental retardation. Disability is no big deal, rise beyond your challenges and move ahead,” he urged.
On the theme of the event, ‘Enabling Survivors through Rehabilitation,’ Mrs Abei said, the society we are in looks down on people with disabilities “but as an organisation, we have purposed to help them acquire skills, go to schools and to support them financially, with job placements and with all we can; because in the next five years, we are thinking of building a skills acquisition centre where they will be trained and empowered.”
She however urged that laws and policies should be put law in place whereby people with physical disabilities would not be segregated in anyway so they can be given equal rights.
Just as it is said that there is an ability in disability, a polio survivor, Wale Lateef, displayed his skill as a disc jockey.
The initiative started as an informally in 1996 by Dr. Dapo Oshoniyi who is also a polio survivor and chairman of the NGO. For him when he started, it was all about helping people that were also physically challenged. The initial set of people that were assisted by Dr. Oshoniyi saw in him a role model. They saw a young man who withstood all obstacles and made something tangible from his life.
The initial scope of work was limited to providing supportive aids. Over time, the support included financial support. All this was done while Dr. Dapo Oshoniyi and Mrs Abie were in undergraduates at the University of Lagos.
Upon graduation from the University, there was a lull in this philanthropic activities. The duo continued to give financial support. They also identified another need which was the need for accommodation for some of the survivors who were homeless. The boys quarters of the family home of Mrs Abei then was adopted for this purpose. The identified survivors stay at this place until they are gainfully employed and re-integrated into the community.
For those that did not need accommodation, they are supported from primary schools to university; those that are not opportune to go to the tertiary institution, they are enrolled at skills acquisition centres ; at the end most of them are supported to secure a job.
It is estimated that, some 10 per cent of the world’s population, approximately 650 million people, live with a disability. They are the world’s largest minority, and some 80 per cent of them live in developing countries. Among the worlds poorest people, 20 per cent have some kind of disability.