Thursday, April 28, 2011

People with disabilities in Gambia ask for empowerment

From Today in Gambia:

People with disabilities have bemoaned modicums of prejudice and discrimination towards them in society. According to them, many people unfairly cling to narrow views that disabled people cannot take part in issues of common national interest.

They called for the full participation of disabled people in national development endeavors since they also have a responsibility to contribute their quota in the development of the country.

Mr. Musa Jassey, a physically challenged youth of Serrekunda told TODAY that disability is only a deficient physical condition which curtails one’s physical ability to do things but this is not to be misconceived as inability. He said that some people perceive disabled people as a burden and have been looked down upon as having no means of contributing meaningfully to human life. This, he said, brings about some form of discrimination against disabled people in the collective adjudication of state resources. He noted that everyone has the right to development and as a result, one’s physical condition must not deny them the opportunity to the common good.

A person’s physical ability should not deny them of the golden opportunity to partake in national development efforts and nobody should use it to gauge their readiness to serve country and contribute to its progress and prosperity, he said.

“I think it is high time that the presence of disabled people is also felt in terms of contributing their own piece to national development. We have some very talented disabled people who only need some form of inclusion in society’s salient decisions. This will definitely augur well for building the confidence, security and sense of belonging in them all together,” he emphasized.

According to him, the plight of disabled people desperately needs a rethink especially in the African context where they suffer of prejudice greatly.

This, he said, makes many feel inferior in society and thus cannot contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic transformation of society. He noted that every person has some talent which when practiced through empowerment, would always pay dividends.

“We have seen some intelligent people who are disabled. They went to school and showcased their talents, which is very important to make them feel recognized in society’s development endeavors,” he added.

He also stated that the participation of disabled people in society is crucial for their psychological stability and people should take issue with this fact and help them in their activities which are of human interest.

Mr. Jassey said that it is empowerment that many disabled people need at present since they are often faced with a lot of difficulties to better their lives in society, noting that many disabled people suffer because of the little or no empowerment they receive from the larger society. This, he added, does not augur well for their living conditions.

Mariatou Sidibeh, who agreed with Musa Jassey said the society must do everything possible to remove the stereotypes attached to physical disability.

“Empowering people with disabilities is very important as it would make them have a sense of awareness in their own realms. This would beget an accelerated sense of belonging for them to take part in endeavors geared towards socio-economic progress in a country,” Ms Sidibeh said.