Disability Bill good but…
Posted on: 2-Jan-2008
The Volta Physically Challenged Independent Group (VOLPHIG), an association of physically challenged people in the Volta Region, has said the passage of the Disability Bill alone cannot be a panacea to the problems facing them.
It said it required collective and persistent advocacy and lobbying for the effective implementation of the legislation through the development of a strategy and working relationships with identified groups, stakeholders and government agencies to foster the speedy implementation of the Act.
Addressing the fifth anniversary get-together of the group at Ho the board chairman of VOLPHIG, Mr Joseph Dehole Dometi, said the excellent support and encouragement over the years by development partners and donors was commendable, adding that it was a way of assisting persons with disability to enter and participate in the mainstream of national development.
He mentioned them as MEND Trust of New Zealand, Democracy and Human Rights Fund of the US Embassy, Ibis West Africa, The Royals Netherlands Embassy, Feed the Mind of UK and the Voluntary Service Overseas(VSO).
Mr Dometi said locally they were in partnership with five disability non-governmental organisations to form a network known as Volta Disability Network (VODIN).
He said that revolving loans had been advanced to 135 members, mobility aids to over 90 members and residential vocational skills training and ICT for 21 members.
The programme head of the Department of Social Welfare, Mr Peter Hlovor, assured them that the department would continue to discharge its statutory obligations to support VOLPHIG and others to promote the welfare of the physically challenged.
He disclosed that with financial and material support from the Ho Municipal Assembly and the VSO the department had reactivated three projects in Tsawenu, Anyirawase and Awudome-Nkwanta.
This he said was to provide equal opportunities for persons with disabilities to promote and protect their human rights as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Source: Daily Graphic
Nigeria: Zhin Donates to Widows, Orphans, Disabled
3 January 2008
Posted to the web 3 January 2008
Kuje Area Council chairman, Hon Danladi Etsu Zhin, has donated 50 bags of rice and clothes to about 200 widows, orphans and disabled residents in the Kuje Area Council, Abuja.
At the presentation programme held within the area council secretariat, Kuje, Hon Zhin urged the recipients to regard the presentations as a mark of love to them and the government's commitment to serving them.
He called on them to reciprocate the gesture by making their own little contributions for the progress of Kuje Area Council and the nation in general. "We are aware of the enormous contributions you can make to the success of this administration, as every one has been endowed by God with the ability to play certain roles that will add to the advancement of his/her immediate environment.
"I therefore employ you to look beyond your disadvantaged states and begin to explore those inherent potentials in you, which if well taped, will not only make you useful to yourself, but enable you affect the lives of others around you. All it requires is your determination to make a difference with your lives irrespective of your dispositions.", he added.
While commending the non-governmental organisations and bodies working among the underprivileged in the society. He called on them to continue with their good works "while calling on others to join these vanguards to sow into the lives of less less privileged in the society", he added.
The head of the committee of widows, orphans and disabled in Kuje Area Council, Mrs Abigail Odedokun, said that the recipients were identified through the 10 wards in the area council with the help of the village heads.
She said the choice of the recipients reflected both natives and non-natives and of different religions.
Nigeria: Bright Future for Blind Man
Daily Champion (Lagos)
3 January 2008
Posted to the web 3 January 2008
Although Danlami Umaru Basharu, is physically blind, he can see a very bright future ahead of him. Unlike several millions like him in the country, who capitalize on their disabilities, to become a liability to members of the society, Basharu believes in the contrary and today, he is a force to reckon with.
The 48 -year- old man from a humble background is today with two master degrees, which he obtained from Europe. He has one important unanswered prayer which is concerning the estimated 19 million people under his leadership.
"My desire and only prayer, which is an age long one is to see that a clause in respect of disabled persons is enshrined in the country's constitution" says the Lagos-based lawyer, who is the current National President, National Joint Associations of Person with Disabilities (NJAPD), stressing that, "and once this is done, a reprieve in no small measure will come to disabled persons in the country. They will feel a sense of belonging and to a great extent, the issue of stigmatization and other standing associated problems facing disabled persons would by time, naturally fade away from the system".
Bashiru noted that the constitutions of some African countries including that of the South Africa and Uganda categorically recognize the rights of special persons, noting that the present Yar'Adua administration should do something similar without further delay.
He said after all, it is an undisputable fact that every society has disabled people, suffering physical, a sensory, mental or intellectual disability and also that everybody is vulnerable to the syndrome one way or the other.
To be able to champion the course of the disabled persons effectively therefore, Basharu equipped himself with wherewithal, particularly educationally. "Truly, it is not easy one standing to his feet to fight against a social ill with attendant obstacles", said Basharu, a man from educational disadvantaged state.
The father of one, and a former senior producer at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), who won the 1990 Julie Coker award as the best broadcaster of the year, told the story of how he lost his eyes to measles when he was three years old, and added that the burden of disabled persons in the country has become his.
Basharu, a lawyer and an alumnus of the prestigious Cambridge University, United Kingdom, where he had both his first and second degree in law, gave instances of some African countries' constitutions including South Africa's and Uganda's that both categorically provide for rights of disabled persons, saying is high time similar gesture held sway in Nigeria, an acclaimed giant of Africa.
"Let the disabled also have a feeling that Nigeria belongs to all of us. We should not be stigmatized, discriminated against and neither marginalized in our country. We are human beings just like every able bodied person", Basharu lamented. "So when the constitution makes provision that we too can contribute positively to the nation's socio-economic development, many of us would cease from being perpetual recipients. What I am saying is that we too are capable to be engaged in productive activities to earn our living rather than being recipients. We have knowledgeable people in our mist. We have them across fields and trades."
Basharu pointed out that under JNADP are six categories of persons which include: the blind, the deaf and dump, the spinal cord injury victims, the mentally ill, the lepers and the lame.
To coordinate these persons of disabilities, Basharu, who also has a master degree in Management Sciences from Durham University Business School, UK said the process is so tasking. How he said, it is as a result of the low level of literacy among members and importantly their peculiar features.
He said what many of them are not opportuned to carry out productive activities, which he said is based on the discrimination many of them face while seeking paid employment. He however said himself has been a victim of such unwholesome affairs but fused to speak further on the particular corporate organisation that such happened, asking rhetorically and furiously as well that: "How many companies or even government establishments in Nigeria will joyfully employ or award contract to a disabled person?
He said by calculation, Nigeria from its over 142 million current population figure, has over 19 million disabled persons, pointing out that the figure was arrived at using the World Health Organisation"s (WHO) statistics of the present of 10 percent disabled people in every population.
Also the International Labour Organisation (ILO) finding shows that over 80 percent of the people in this group in many developing countries, including Nigeria is unemployed. The assumption is that persons with disabilities are unable to work and besides, is the fear of costly special facilities to be provided by their employers if employed.
It is however, recognized that disabled people do not only have a valuable contribution to make to the national economy but that their employment also reduces the cost of disability benefits and may reduce poverty.
Unemployed persons with disability are becoming a perennial menace to society because there are no special facilities for them to fit into the working society. According to UNICEF, 30 per cent of street youths are disabled, but who cares.
Asked whether majority of the disabled people are not ignorance of his crusade, he said there is nothing like that, noting that he maintains a constant touch with many of them through their respective association's leaders.
He however, refuted the opinion of many that majority of disabled persons enjoy begging and would not want to work even if provided a job, saying such could not mean that all disabled person are lazy.
Basharu, a delegate member, National Political Reform Conference (2005), and a member of Oxford and Cambridge Club of Nigeria, has traveled wide. He has been to the United States, West Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark , England, Canada, Louisiana etc for one course conference or the other that bother on the issues affecting the blind persons.
He said most of his undertakings that have today developed him constructively were through the benevolence of some spirited Nigerians and corporate bodies. He pointed to one Dr. Ben Epega, who he described as a philanthropist and Senator Bode Olajumoke as well as the British Airways Nigeria as parts of his numerous benefactors, appreciating them on their numerous kind gestures towards the realization of his dream of becoming somebody in the society.
Basharu, loves reading, writing, listening to radio as well as swimming and other indoor games.
Tri-City family opens home, hearts to children
By MICHELLE DUPLER
RICHLAND - Doing laundry for a husband and 15 children would drive most mothers crazy, but Julee Feser has a system.
Each member of her patchwork quilt of a family has a towel, embroidered with the owner's name, hanging on a rack in the upstairs bathroom. With only one towel per person, the laundry never backs up, she says.
Julee and her husband, Mike, had to create a lot of systems to manage their family, which includes one biological son, Michael, 16, and 14 children and teenagers adopted from China, South Africa, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Washington.
The Fesers have five more biological children, but they're all grown, some with children of their own.
"People say, 'You must have a huge house' or 'How much money do you get?' " Julee said. "I think, 'How much money do you get for your kids?' It's an average-size house and an average-size income, but it works."
The couple say they manage financially, but they occasionally get help from charitable organizations, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The foundation helped with Christmas presents recently, Julee said.
Many of their adopted children have medical problems, disabilities or other special needs - like their most recent addition, MyHao, 5, who came from Vietnam in January 2007 and has Down syndrome. MyHao is their second Down-syndrome child. The first was Jonathan, 2, whom the couple adopted just after he was born in Tacoma in 2005.
"It was the most amazing thing to me," Julee said. "I never thought we'd have a newborn in our home again."
Last year, they also learned the toddler has severe aplastic anemia, a disease that stops bone marrow from producing enough blood cells. They hope to get word from a hospital about a lifesaving bone-marrow transplant early this year.
The family has health insurance through Mike's job at Washington Group International, and supplements that with medical coupons to keep health-care expenses under control. Jonathan's care alone could cost millions without insurance, Mike said.
And that isn't the only medical challenge the family has faced. Berhanu, 6, lost an eye to retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer, and got a prosthetic eye in 2007.
Solomon, 3, had surgery for spina bifida and is now able to walk. And Josiah and Maggie, both 6, have cerebral palsy, which affected Josiah's ability to walk for the first few years of his life, and has Maggie in a wheelchair that she's rapidly outgrowing.
Two more of their adopted children are amputees, Julee said, including Anna, 7, the first child they adopted.
The couple felt God guided them to consider adoption at a time when all of their biological children except Michael had grown up and left home.
"We went from thinking about retiring early and having a life together and traveling [to adopting]," Mike said. "We never knew what was in store for us was much better."
They knew they wanted a baby girl from China, but it didn't occur to them to take a child with a disability. In fact, one of their many fears was getting a child with significant medical problems.
"Then we said, 'If we're going to adopt people, we might as well adopt ones no one else wants,' " Julee said.
So halfway through the process, they changed their minds and asked for a child with special needs.
"We know he [God] has chosen every one for us," Julee said. "When they were the right kids, it would all fall into place."
Keeping everything in place takes work and organization.
Inside the family's one-story Richland home, tables are shoved together into a line stretching from the dining room into the living room. Six bedrooms are filled with bunk beds and cribs. Two refrigerators hold more food than most people can imagine.
A schedule hangs on a bulletin board in the hall, setting out blocks of time for each member of the family to have meals, showers, naps, do chores, pray or just kick back and relax.
But the fruits of Julee and Mike's labor were evident during playtime on a recent Friday afternoon, when joyous peals of laughter wafted up from the basement playroom where five of the children jostled for their turn at a board game.
Berhanu ran in and complained to Julee that the others wouldn't let him play.
Siblings, apparently, will always be siblings.
Kwanza Norte: Disabled People Get Driving School
Ndalatando, 01/07 - A driving school adapted for disabled people will be created this year in Luanda, to allow the group get driver’s licence.
This announcement was made last weekend in Ndalatando, Kwanza Norte, by the National Association of Disabled People of Angola chairperson (ANDA), Silva Lopes Etiambulo, during a meeting with members of the institution, as part of a 24 hours working visit to the province.
According to ANDA chairperson, the initiative is based on professional training actions for the disabled, under the “Projecto Vem Comigo” project that among other objectives, aims at the socio-professional and productive reintegration of disabled people.
He also announced that as from this month, ANDA intends to create, in partnership with the Public Administration, Work and Social Security Ministry (Mapess), conditions that permits the extension of project at all levels and in every provinces of the country.
Minister warns men against impregnating disabled girls
Monday, 7th January, 2008
By Moses Nampala
THE Minister of State for Gender, Rukia Isanga Nakadama, is concerned that men lure disabled girls into relationships. She added that men abandon the girls after impregnating them.
Nakadama called for urgent redress of the situation, saying it was rampant in rural areas. The minister made the remarks while addressing people with disabilities at Bugadde Primary School in Kityerera sub-county, Mayuge district on Friday.
“My ministry has come up with a strong advocacy mechanism to prosecute the culprits,” she said.
She regretted that statistics indicated that 57% of the females with disabilities conceive after being raped.
Nakadama said the victims are usually attacked by the culprits from foot-paths, discreet spots and gardens.
She added that because of social stigma, men responsible for such pregnancies always deny the victims any form of assistance during pregnancy and after delivery. “The time for playing games is over. The culprits will be prosecuted.”
Apology given after disabled parking row
January 07 2008 at 11:50AM
Track sprinter Lee Roy Newton has apologised for the fact that his Audi-sponsored vehicle was parked in a disabled parking bay outside Woolworths in Cowey Road, Durban, last week - although he wasn't driving it.
His apology comes after Morningside resident Barbie Page laid a complaint with Umhlanga Audi when she saw an able-bodied woman parking in the disabled bay.
"A young woman zipped into the disabled parking bay and nimbly hopped out of her silver-grey Audi on the side of which was proudly displayed 'Lee Roy Newton - sponsored by Umhlanga Audi,'" she said.
Page took issue, asking the driver how she could park in a disabled bay.
The woman reportedly said: "Why should you care?"
Page then phoned Umhlanga Audi to complain.
"Audi said that neither Newton nor his girlfriend could have been driving the car as they were both on holiday," said Page.
"My issue is not with Lee Roy, but with the driver. Her attitude of absolute insolence sums up the attitude of people towards facilities for the disabled," said Page.
Newton contacted The Mercury and said that he was shocked to find out about the complaints.
He said the fact that he had a family member with cerebral palsy made him more sensitive to the mistreatment of handicapped people.
"The woman driving the car was my friend's girlfriend. We asked her to buy food at Woolworths because we were moving house at the time.
"She came back and did not mention the incident, and I only heard about it now. I apologised to Barbie and I'm sorry that this happened," said Newton.
Audi spokesperson Riaan de Vries said the company was looking into the matter.
Angola: Kwanza Sul - USD 70,000 Earmarked for Rehabilitation of Disabled People
Angola Press Agency (Luanda)
8 January 2008
Posted to the web 8 January 2008
At least USD 70,000 will be released to rehabilitate 60 disabled people victims of landmines in Kassongue district, coastal Kwanza Sul province, in a process due to begin this month, at the Orthopaedic Centre of Gabela, in the framework of "Rehabilitar 7" project.
Being implemented by the National Association of Disabled People of Angola (Anda) the project counts on the assistance of the National Inter-sectorial Commission of De-mining and Humanitarian Aid (CNIDAH), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union (EU).
The three-month project includes physical rehabilitation of associates, with prostheses in lower and upper limbs.
According to the coordinator of the project, Enoque Bernardo, this assistance will help the landmine victims so that they stop begging.
Kassongue district, with the highest number of disabled people in the province, has 2,000 victims registered, out of 7,050 handicapped existing in the province.
UN drive for economic and social rights
By Frances Williams
Published: January 8 2008 19:29 | Last updated: January 8 2008 19:29
The United Nations is to push for economic and social rights, including the human rights responsibilities of companies, to be given greater attention in the run-up to the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Louise Arbour, UN high commissioner for human rights, says in an interview with the Financial Times the attacks on the US on September 11 2001 have left the debate on economic and social rights on hold as the human rights community fought to defend civil liberties from erosion by counter-terrorism measures.
The year-long campaign leading up to December’s anniversary of the Universal Declaration represents a fresh opportunity to emphasise the “indivisibility” and “universality” of the human rights affirmed in the declaration, she says. The declaration makes no distinction between civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights.
“If you look at the Universal Declaration ... all the rights are there. This was Roosevelt’s ‘Freedom from fear and freedom from want’.” But western governments have largely championed civil and political rights while leaving econ-omic and social rights to the market, she says.
“The assumption was that prosperity will look after the right to health and education, which I think is a completely misguided view of what human rights are about.
“There’s no reason to assume that prosperity will transform itself naturally into any form of social justice,” she says, including help for the most vulnerable.
The overemphasis of civil and political rights has laid the west open to charges of hypocrisy by many developing nations, which say economic and social rights are more important to them.
While this argument is “a bit disingenuous”, she says, “the fact that not a single western country has ratified the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers is very telling”.
Although controversial UN draft norms - setting out companies’ human rights responsibilities - have been shelved for the time being, the high commissioner does not rule out future development of binding international rules for corporations.
These could start with less contentious areas, she says, such as non-discrimination, protection of the right to life, liberty of the person, and the core labour conventions outlawing child labour or slavery.
She acknowledges this is not a near-term prospect. “When you look at the fact that it took two decades to get a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, any work that can be done on all fronts to advance human rights protection in an environment where multi-national corporations are the dominant actors should be welcomed,” she says.
John Ruggie, UN special rapporteur on business and human rights, is due to make recommendations to this effect when he presents his final report to the UN Human Rights Council at the end of his mandate in June.
Prof Ruggie has been criticised by civil society groups for putting too much stress on voluntary corporate initiatives, which often lack adequate monitoring or accountability mechanisms, which they argue risk defusing pressure for binding rules.
Ms Arbour accepts these criticisms, but says the engagement of businesses needs to be encouraged.
For instance, her office is working in partnership with the UN’s Global Compact, whose 3,600 corporate members, mostly in emerging economies, have pledged to uphold 10 principles on human rights, labour rights, the environment and anti-corruption.
“There should be no false pretence that membership carries any endorsement of the company’s compliance with human rights norms and standards,” she says. “But one can only hope that it will move forward.”
1947 Born Montreal, Canada
1967 Graduated from College Regina Assumpta, Montreal
1987 Appointed to the Supreme Court of Ontario
1990 Appointed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario
1995 Led an inquiry into prisons for women in the province
1999 Chief prosecutor of the International War Crimes Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda
1999-2004 Appointed to Supreme Court of Canada
2004 United Nations high commissioner for human rights
Thanks to a joint project between Tunisia and the United States government, the Association of Parents and Friends of the Handicapped now offers Tunisians three more training centres. By Jamel Arfaoui for Magharebia in Tunis - 09/01/08
Tunisia's Association of Parents and Friends of the Handicapped (APAHT) has constructed two new facilities in Nabeul and Menzel Temime to provide education and training for citizens with moderate handicaps. The US-funded project aims to facilitate the integration of the handicapped into society.
During a tour of the facilities on Monday (January 7th), US Ambassador to Tunisia Robert Godec called the $760,000 project a "symbol of long-standing friendship between the American and Tunisian peoples who share the same values and principles".
The new state-of-the-art facilities house male and female students suffering from different mental and physical disabilities. They receive education and sports training, as well as vocational training.
Supervisor Madiha ben Debba expressed hope that the two new facilities will be as effective as the one in the Ariana governorate on the outskirts of the capital. The Ariana centre was built in 1999, also with US assistance.
Madiha stressed the importance of US assistance, saying it "enabled us to realise our ambition, which is the integration of the handicapped into society and enabling them to depend on themselves."
"Through this effort," she said, "we can create a smile - not just on the lips of the handicapped, but their entire family as well."
Godec's tour began at the Nabeul center, where he said, "This school is more than just a building. It represents hope for the children who seek knowledge which will enable them to depend on themselves." Godec added that, to Tunisia, "The school also represents the future and the development of the society that has long been known for its tolerance and openness."
"I have followed up on the building of this centre as if I was following up on my own house," Kamel Khalil, a sports trainer in the Nabeul centre told Magharebia. "I will do my best to give those children all my experience so that they eventually don't feel different from other children." Khalil expressed his hope that the specialised gymnasium will be supplied with necessary equipment on time so he can begin working with the children.
At the Sidi Salem Center in Menzel Temime, Godec expressed his admiration for the local community, whose co-operation facilitated the completion of the project. He also noted the generosity of the Tunisian authorities, which contributed the land on which the centre was built. The ambassador also thanked local businessmen for their contributions, particularly of necessary equipment.
The APAHT project, just one component of Tunisia's social reform plan for the integration of the handicapped, was funded in part by the Humanitarian Assistance Programme of the US Department of Defence.
The Tunisian government has been active in recent years in reshaping its policies regarding people with disabilities. In August 2005 it revised the laws governing handicapped affairs, in order to enable them to integrate into professional life and to receive government loans for small and medium-size enterprises on easy terms.
The government has also created a special college to train specialists in caring for people with disabilities.
Eritrea: National Rehabilitation Commission Branch in Gash-Barka Region Extends Interest-Free Loan to War-Disabled Citizens And Demobilized Women
15 January 2008
Posted to the web 15 January 2008
The National Rehabilitation Commission branch in the Gash-Barka region extended over 20 million Nakfa of interest-free loans to 791 war-disabled nationals and demobilized women in the region.
The head of the branch office, Mr. Girmai Beimnet, pointed out that the loan would be directed to agriculture and trade activities, as well as cattle fattening schemes. He also noted that the Commission had earlier extended a similar loan amounting to 30,000 Nakfa to 501 disabled citizens.
Mr. Girmai further indicated that there are plans to extend interest-free loans to 300 nationals shortly. The loan is aimed at improving the standard of living of the beneficiaries, and thereby help them become productive and self-supporting, he added.
Oscar to fight Olympic ban
16 January 2008
South African double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius has been barred from competing in the Beijing Olympics after a report commissioned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) found that the prosthetic "blades" he runs on give him an unfair advantage.
By all reports, the "fastest man on no legs" is not about to take this lying down, and is planning to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The IAAF's decision has sparked numerous heated back-and-forth discussions on message boards on websites around the world, with no clear-cut opinion emerging from the man in the street.
After a two-day scientific investigation, supervised by Professor Peter Bruggemann at the German Sport University of Cologne, Bruggemann concluded that the prosthetics Pistorius uses require 25% less energy than able-bodied athletes need to run at similar speeds.
The study said that once the Paralympic superstar reaches a certain speed, less additional energy is needed than is the case with natural limbs.
It also found that the mechanical advantage of running with the prosthetics was higher than 30% in the ankle because of the loss of energy in the joint that able-bodied athletes experience.
The returned energy from Pistorius's prosthetic blade is close to three times higher than that of the human ankle joint in maximum sprinting, the report said.
According to various media reports, Pistorius wasn't surprised by Bruggemann's findings. He said he had spoken to others about Bruggemann before the tests, so he suspected that the findings would go against him. Nonetheless, he admitted that hearing them was a shock.
Having been forewarned, though, Pistorius said he was prepared for a negative report and ready to continue his fight by other methods, including testing with other, independent scientists.
For some, it might seem to be an open-and-shut case that Pistorius has an unfair advantage, given the results of the IAAF's testing, but other questions could be raised in support of him.
Advantages versus disadvantages
While the prosthetics, known as "Cheetahs", are said to give Pistorius an advantage, the question remains: how much is he disadvantaged by his disability.
Pistorius had both legs amputated when he was 11 months old because he was born without fibulas, which are bones found between the knee and the ankle. How does one reasonably balance out the advantages the "Cheetahs" give Pistorius and the disadvantages of his double amputations?
One could also ask why, if the blades Pistorius uses give him such a big advantage, disabled athletes have not far surpassed able-bodied athletes in the record books? They haven't. They haven't even come close to the achievements of able-bodied athletes.
In fact, Pistorius is the first disabled athlete to truly challenge for a place in the Olympics based on a comparison of his performances against able-bodied athletes.
To be honest, however qualifying for the Games would not only be an outstanding achievement, it would also be a surprising one. A medal threat Pistorius is not.
Pistorius has overcome huge obstacles to achieve what he has so far - world Paralympic records in the 100, 200, and 400 metre sprints - but the challenge he now faces is even more daunting: entry into the Olympic Games.
It is difficult to take up a position either wholly for or against his inclusion at the Olympics. And it is probably too early to reach any conclusions; after further tests are conducted a clearer picture will emerge about the relative advantages and disadvantages Pistorius faces.
His case holds huge implications for the future of competition between able-bodied and disabled athletes. Pistorius has already competed against able-bodied athletes, but if he is unsuccessful in his bid to participate in the Olympics, the chances of other disabled athletes bridging the gap will suffer a huge blow.
The IAAF's decision is certainly a big setback, but Pistorius has fought to overcome numerous obstacles throughout his life. Clearly, he is not someone who simply accepts "no" for an answer, and so his mission to compete in the Olympic Games continues.
South Africa: SA to Receive Electric Braille Machine in Feb
17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008
By Bathandwa Mbola Pretoria
A new electric brailler for visually impaired people will be available in the country in February, says the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB).
The machine is made possible by a ten year international partnership between SANCB and the Perkins School in Boston, in the United States. The partnership, called the Perkins Project, runs a factory in Killarney Gardens, Cape Town where the braille machines are assembled for distribution in South Africa, Africa and other developing countries. The factory is supplying the braillers at 40 percent cheaper than the imported machines.
SANCB Communication Manager, Lindie Sutherland told BuaNews that, the electric brailler will weigh less and users will not have to press the keys hard like before. A braille machine can be compared to a manual typewriter typing in tactile dots instead of ink. The old machine consists of 756 parts and weighs 6.5 kilograms. Ms Sutherland said: "The partnership was established with a view to benefiting visually impaired people in the developing world by giving them access to an affordable way of writing Braille." According to Ms Sutherland, this was how the council's slogan: 'Empowering visually impaired persons to do what they dare to dream' was adopted.
The factory has since manufactured more than 20 000 braillers in the past 10 years and by doing this, Ms Sutherland said, it has empowered many blind people in the developing world to write braille and therefore to be literate .
The world renowned Perkins brailler machines were manufactured since 1951 and used in more than 170 countries.
Kenya's Disabled people demand parliamentary, civic seats
Human rights groups and civil society organizations in K enya Thursday accused the Election Commission of Kenya (ECK) and political parti e s represented in parliament and civic bodies of discrimination for failing to no m inate people with disabilities, who fall in the special interest groups, to parl i ament.
Speaking at a Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) conference, a sp okesman for disabled people, human rights lawyer Lawrence Mute said ECK and poli t ical parties had violated section 33 of the national constitution, which provide s for special interest groups to be given priority when filling civic and parliam e ntary positions through nomination.
"The ECK is constitutionally empowered to vet the party nominations to ensure co mpliance with the special interest criteria and gender equality before transmitt i ng the names for appointment by the president," KNCHR said in a statement read b y Mr. Mute, himself disabled.
"As they say, 'nothing should be done for us without us'," Mute said.
He said political parties, ECK and the president would be in contravention of th e constitution if the lists of nominated MPs and civic leaders do not include re p resentation for the disability 'special interest.'
Kenyan political parties are in the process of finalizing lists of their nominat ed MPs before parliament resumes sittings in March.
Nairobi - 17/01/2008
South Africa: Board to Review Disability Grants in KZN
18 January 2008
Posted to the web 18 January 2008
By Siboniso Ntuli
An appeal board will be formed by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Social Development to review disability grant applications that were previously refused.
The department's MEC Dr Meshack Radebe said that the board would help the department to make sure that the disability grants are given to the people who deserve them.
"The appeal board will mostly investigate the cases of those sick or disable people who were refused disability grants after they were examined by the certain doctors and stated that they are capable.
"The problem that we are experiencing in this province is that, some disable or sick people are being refused to get grants. This follows after they were examined by the corrupt doctors who want bribery, before being satisfied that a person does qualify for the disability grants," said Dr Radebe.
Dr Radebe said if a person was refused or does not have money to pay, the doctor can write a report that a person does not deserve a grant.
The people, he said in all the areas of the province will appoint the appeal board and they will be working in all the district offices of Social Development.
"By basing the appeal board to all districts in the province, we want the board to be accessible by the people in their respective communities. The board must be part of the community that they will be serving."
The people who have been refused a disability grant, but they believe that they deserve it, they can submit their claims to the appeal board. Once claim is submitted, the board will investigate the case.
The appeal board will also investigate the applications to see if the people are partial or permanently disable.
Dr Radebe further said the appeal board would then make the recommendations to him, if the people are permanently disable and there is a need to be given grants.
CRIPPLED GRADUATE MOVES TO REMOVE DISABLED BEGGARS FROM THE STREETS
By UBONG UKPONG, Abuja
Monday, January 21, 2008
Christian Agbo Obiora, a physically challenged person, is distinguished in his condition. Ranked fifth in a family of nine, he is the first and only graduate in his family and he is doing everything possible to stay distinguished even as he mobilizes disabled persons for vocational training to give them a better means of livelihood rather than begging.
The 29- year- old youth corper served at the Social Development Secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) in Abuja, the nation’s capital. As part of his Community Development Service (CDS), Obiora mobilized over 40 of his less underprivileged disabled colleagues and caused them to undergo a free skills acquisition training on tie and dye/batik and soap making.
He told Daily Sun in an interview that the essence of choosing the training project as his CD, was out of his burning desire to see those who are physically challenged like him, engage themselves in useful ventures that would enable them to contribute to nation building. Said Obiora: "I chose the project for my CD because of what I have been going through.
“Secondly, I want to do something for people in my category. Those who might not have the opportunity of doing things on their own, but when you expose them to things like this, they would be able to do something on their own to cater for themselves rather than going out to beg." Poised to reduce the rate of street begging, Obiora said apart from getting them out of the streets, he was also trying to build their self-confidence. He pointed out that the self-confidence disabled people lacked, has being affecting them in so many ways. "We have a mind of not being free with people and feeling inferior. So, I want to really build on that. There is nothing different between other people and us. The only thing is that we have one or two disabilities and those disabilities we have do not mean that we cannot succeed in life.
"We can be what other people are. What we need to do is for us to put that problem behind us. The way you see yourself is not the way people see you. People sometimes don’t even know if you are disabled and the only thing that can make you to achieve that is the way you conduct yourself. Obiora disclosed that the worse disservice is to sympathise with disabled persons when they tried to execute their normal duties as any other person.
He said it pisses up any disabled person as the sympathizers tend to suppose that the disabled person was useless to his community. Said he: "To sympathise with a disabled person is a negative attitude. It is a negative attitude in the sense that those people who are sympathising with the disabled person believe that there is nothing a disabled person can offer. And that would always affect whatever the disabled person is trying to prove to them that he can do."
Submitting that the attitude was a wrong and worrisome one, Obiora, who hails from Eha-alumona, Enugu State, charged his colleagues to reject the attitude and integrate themselves into the society and contribute their quotas to develop it.
Obiora told Daily Sun that he found no difficulty gathering his disabled colleagues for the training as he met them one on one on the streets, persuaded them and they had no problems accepting him seeing he was one of them. "When they see that you care for them, whatever you are telling them they believe you. And secondly, they found out that I have the problem they have. So when I’m talking to them, they listen to me.
"I went to several Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to mobilize them and saw many of them on the road and spoke with them. Sometimes I make out time and go out to talk to them about the skills acquisition training", Obiora stated. However, he regretted that most of the disabled persons would not want to acquire skills and work to earn a living. Therefore, no matter what you do to encourage them, they would rebuff it. "Those here are interested in developing themselves. Some of them are not interested because they believe they can stay on the streets and make more money. Some even feel that acquiring a skill is a waste of time, but sitting on the streets to beg make them lazy."
Frowning at alms giving, Obiora said, "We are telling the public that they don’t have to be giving alms. They should give us that equal opportunity. What an able bodied can do, a disabled person can as well do it. The problems we are having is that the public believes we cannot do those things and that is why the public keep giving alms, not trying to find a way of bringing these people up. What I’m saying is that, there are many NGOs who are dedicated to work. If you want to reach out to people.
If you have anyone on mind that you have been seeing, go to that NGO, get a social worker, talk to that person there and take the person off the streets so that the person can be rehabilitated and become a better person to the community. A graduate of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Obiora plans to be fully involved in helping to rehabilitate not only his disabled colleagues, but every other less privileged persons around, to contribute to eradicating streets begging.
"After my service year, I want to establish an organisation to put smiles on the faces of the less privileged, not just disables. I did Social Works in school and being a social worker, you are a help agent", he stated. Obiora said he was not so much attentive to and involved in love life, to enable him to concentrate on what he had to do for now, he expressed hope that at the appropriate time, he would get married like every other person and breed children. "Life is like that. No matter how you look, you will have admirers. Some day I hope to get married and my wife will come naturally. I believe that some day, something will happen and I will meet my wife.
“I am facing a number of challenges especially mobility problem. Another is about what I want to do after service, I have a lot of ideas and a lot of things to offer but the problem is how can I get to offer some of these things? Some of these things are not forth coming because of not being able to get the necessary support from the public.
Obiora told Daily Sun that his disability resulted from polio, and placed the blame of most disability on parents, stating that it was the result of their carelessness by not adhering to the calls for immunization. "It was from polio at a tender age. Though I would say that I didn’t really know how it happened, If I were immunized, may be it would not have been like this. I have taken it like a fate and I am living comfortably with it. It is not preventing me from any thing.
I live like any other person, I do whatever that my pears do. Parents have to be careful about some of these things. It is true that we have some of these problems and people tell us to take it as a fate but in the real sense, the parents are the people to blame because most cases of disability came from polio. It is usually a few people that their own cases were from accidents or things like that, but most are from polio. When you go round Nigeria today, you see many cases of disabilities. It is from the carelessness of our parents. My message to parents is that what they owe their children is not only breast -feeding. They owe them more than that. Give them immunization and good health".
A lover of football and sprints, Obiora said he had never and would never play football, which he always feel like playing most times, especially when he watched stars. Recounting sadly he said: "Assuming I do not have this challenge, who knows, may be I would have been the next Okocha they have been looking for to go to Nations cup. These are the things one would look at. It limits our chances.
“There are a lot of things I cannot do . Though there are still some I can do, but what of those I cannot do? I love football so much but I cannot play football no matter how I tried. I love to do sports such as boxing or to be a sprinter but I cannot. I just sit down, watch people do all these and I get pissed up that I can never do it in my life. About 60 percent of disability comes from polio and we have to do something about it. Government has been doing a lot, but people have to be enlightened the more."
Tunisia: Laughter Festival Aims at Bringing Joy to Disabled Children
Tunisia Online (Tunis)
21 January 2008
Posted to the web 22 January 2008
A festival dubbed "week of laughter", will take place at the Municipal Theatre in Tunis from January 27 to February 3, 2008.
The festival which is organized by 'Yalil Production' aims at bringing financial and moral relief to disabled children with specific needs. All of the proceedings of the event will go to UNESI (Union Nationale des Ecoles Specialisees et integrees), an association which aims at helping children suffering from linguistic, emotional or behaviour related problems.
Nine shows, by talented humorists from Tunisia, France, Canada Algeria and Morocco, will be presented. After opening the show, French comic Yves Lecoq will be followed by Adam, Tomer Sisley, Anne Romanoff, Nasreddine Ben Mokhtar, Jaafar Gasmi, Anthony Kavanagh, Baaziz and Booder for what promises to be a hilarious event.
The organizers say that plans are afoot to take the show to four other main Tunisian cities. In the aftermath of this second edition of the festival (the first edition took place on in 2007), they also hope to turn the event into a permanent annual event.
Eritrea: Ministry Extends Interest-Free Loan to 67 War-Disabled Nationals in Berikh Sub-Zone
25 January 2008
Posted to the web 25 January 2008
The branch office of the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare in the Berikh sub-zone extended over 1 million Nakfa in interest-free loans to 67 war-disabled nationals, according to Ms. Aklasia Teklu, head of the branch office.
Previously, the branch office has extended a loan amounting to 10,000 Nakfa each to 25 disabled nationals, in addition to assistance in the form of cattle to 12 needy citizens.
Ms. Aklaisa further indicated that walking sticks and wheelchairs have been distributed to 56 disabled individuals in the area, and that financial assistance has been provided to 35 street children for buying educational materials. The branch office has also offered six-month training courses in weaving to demobilized women fighters in Tsaeda-Kristian, and that each trainee has been provided with a weaving machine, she added.
Ghana: MTN Gives Disabled Free 2008 Tickets
Public Agenda (Accra)
25 January 2008
Posted to the web 25 January 2008
The headline sponsor of the ongoing 2008 African Cup of Nations MTN, has presented 600 tickets to some disabled persons in Accra to enable them to witness Ghana's matches in the tournament.
The mobile telecommunication company presented 120 tickets each to the Ghana Society for the Physically Challenged and the Association of Sports for the Disabled. The remaining 360 tickets went to other disadvantaged persons who were selected in consultation with some Accra-based radio stations.
The Corporate Services Executive of MTN Ghana, Ms. Mawuena Dumor, said the presentation formed part of her company's commitment towards the development of sports in Ghana and Africa for that matter.
She said the gesture presents a fine opportunity for the beneficiaries, who would have gone without it, and also to have a real feel of football in the stadium and to see their soccer idols.
"For many football fans in Ghana, the only chance they have to see their favourite football stars in action is through television. Having drawn all our stars to Ghana, it is important to increase the chances of fans seeing their stars. It is our expectation that the 600 fortunate fans will enjoy the classic feast of football which is unfolding right here in Ghana," she explained.
Ms Dumor further said that MTN was very proud of her achievements in Ghana and was ready to build stronger relationships with the people as part of their corporate objectives.
She mentioned in particular the establishment of the MTN Foundation in Ghana through which the company executes its corporate social responsibilities. "We are passionate about our vision to positively impact the lives of people in our communities and we will intervene through projects in two key areas namely education and Health. This is why MTN is happy to partner UNICEF through CAF to provide quality education for children."
Receiving the tickets on behalf of beneficiaries, the President of the Ghana Society for the physically challenged, Joseph Adu-Boampong, expressed gratitude to MTN for the presentation and appealed for more assistance towards the betterment of the lot of physically challenged in the country.
The substantive Captain of the Black Stars, Stephen Appiah, who has been ruled out of the tournament due to injury, graced the occasion.
Cameroon: North West - Jerry Club Assists the Disabled
Cameroon Tribune (Yaounde)
25 January 2008
Posted to the web 25 January 2008
By Yaboa Ndula
The 2007 Christmas season came with blessings for the disabled and the disadvantaged of the North West. Most of them were out in their crutches and braises receiving gifts at the head office of the Community Resource Center for the Disabled and the Disadvantaged (CRCDD). The assistance came from Jerry Club, a social group in Bamenda that gave TV sets, a CD player, Savons, Toilet tissues, food items and CFA 50.000 to CRCDD.
Handing over the gifts, the president of Jerry Club, Djam Richard said it is a way to sympathise with the plight of the disabled. He told the disabled that it is not what one gives that matters but the love one puts in the giving. The coordinator of CRCDD, Limen Florence Ndwengwa, on behalf of the disabled, thanked the Jerry Club for the largess. After enumerating what the disabled can do, such as repair of crutches, production of powder soap, do craft work, embroidery, sewing etc, she said disability is not inability. She also acknowledged Deheri Monitor for training some disabled in computer soft ware and CATTU North West for providing books to disable children and children of parents with disability. Though they are disabled, they are very ambitious and hope for a brighter future she concluded.
Presenting the plan of action of the Jerry Club for 2008 Ndonwi Sylvanus said their project will cost some CFA 7.058.835. He pleaded to both national and international humanitarians groups to help them in their numerous projects. He said their main problems are mobility, leadership skills to be efficient, lack of Bibles to evangelise, provision of school needs to disabled children amongst others. The club founded 14 years ago has also supported the Orphanage in Njinikom, the Leprosy settlement in Mbingo, the disabled Center in Bafut, the Philadelphia Center for the blind in Mbengwi amongst others.
CRCDD Bafut, Benakuma and Bamenda branches have common goals -to consolidate and create public awareness on the disabled, to empower them in various vocational fields, to educate them on their rights and to evangelise the disabled.
Uganda: The Agony of Being Female
East African Business Week (Kampala)
28 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008
By David Mugabe
Ms Carol Nampiina's posting to her new workplace coincided with her monthly menstrual flow that fell in July, and it took her less than two days in her new office to try and confide in someone about her discomfort.
Nampiina was uncomfortable at office for unlike her previous residence where she easily disposed off her sanitary pads, her new office lacked a sanitary bin. During the times she had her flow, she had to wrap her used pad, keep it in her bag until late in the evening when she went back home to dispose it.
She confided in an older colleague who said she found the situation like that when she joined the company, and there were worse circumstances for women. Like the many forms of social omissions to the disadvantage of minorities, indications are that the lack of proper places for disposal of used sanitary pads is one of the overlooked practices prevailing in modern offices in Uganda.
And although some offices have women's exclusive toilets, they are not absolutely secure from male intrusion which threatens their privacy and dignity. But there are also offices which don't have "women's only" toilets at all.
"Even in our offices, there is no separation of toilets for sexes and this can have serious health consequences. Even our female colleagues here complain. My senior health officer is annoyed but we hope it will change," said Dr Mesach Mubiru, director of health services, Kampala City Council.
The Public Health Act, 2000, Chapter 281 states that privacy must be provided for by labeling whenever communities have both sexes working together. Mubiru says the same legal provisions protect workers even at private offices. Mubiru agrees it is a much flaunted provision.
It is a silent, sensitive yet progressive evil that the victims dare not come out loudly about it, just like in the many cases where women have had to quietly bare the brunt of social ostracisation.
The dirty and inconveniencing task of walking around with a used pad in a lady's bag contributes to the psychological barrier that even educated women have to live with just because the greater picture of having the job despite such trauma makes more sense.
"You can even use a bucket which costs about $2.1 (Ush3500) to $2.9 (5,000) only," said Ms. Mankolo Mercy who had to be pressed to talk about this sanitary subject having served in a high level office that lacked sanitary bins.
Mr. Mohammed Kirumiira, chief health inspector, KCC agrees that there is a problem hitting women sanitaion generally. Infact, Kampala, the quickly rising cosmopolitan city that in November 2007 hosted 50 heads of government in the Commonwealth meeting has been facing this discriminatory challenge.
Officials say the problem is most at Constitutional Square, Sure House and Goods Shade on Entebbe road which all have KCC toilets and are situated in and around the Kampala city centre.
At Constitutional Square, which is a central business location, there is a single entry for both sexes because the contractors built only one access door.
There is only one attendant maintaining both toilets, and he being a man, condemns the women's' side to poor service.
"The contractor economizes (to avoid paying more salaries)-he employs only one male attendant and there is no attendant on the ladies side to collect money or wash the toilets. How can a man clean ladies' toilets," asked Kirumiira.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act 2006 states that where persons of both sexes are or are intended to be employed, except in the case of buildings where the workers are all members of the same family, the convenience shall have proper, separate accommodation for persons of each sex, separate approaches for each sex." This is truly contravened in practice by the wider Ugandan society, in both public and private spheres.
KCC has 12 public toilets in and around the city centre and the management at City Hall concedes there is a general lack of concern for the womenfolk, right from the offices at City Hall.
"Like here (KCC offices), it is abused, women here have been complaining that the toilets get chocked because they (women) place pads into the pans and have very little flowing water to wash down the refuse," said Kirumiira.
With Dr. William Muhairwe, the managing director of Uganda's National Water and Sewerage Corporation recently disclosing that Uganda's main urban centres are just 10% sewered, the absurdity of the hygiene risks are glaring.
In office premises where there are no bins, the casual employees who are tasked with collecting and disposing rubbish are subjected to the ghastly nightmare of sometimes touching the bloodstained pads of their senior colleagues.
Disabled ask for special beds
Tuesday, 29th January, 2008
By Daniel Edyegu
PERSON with disabilities (PWDs) have asked the Government to furnish maternity wards in the country with adjustable beds for disabled expectant women.
“Pregnant disabled women can’t access hospital beds because they are high. Nurses are often so rude to them yet it is their conjugal right to conceive,” the Eastern MP for the disabled, Julius Balyejjusa, said recently.
He told celebrants at the International Day for the Disabled in Kisoko sub-county, Tororo district that the fear of undergoing such experiences had forced some disabled women to stop conception before they reached menopause.
Balyejjusa added that the disabled were also sidelined in the award of contracts by local governments.
“When you are implementing government programmes, the benefits must be felt by all. But if you leave out the disabled, who comprise 14% of the population, then we shall be disabled 100%.
“We are very hardworking people and that is why I have never heard any disabled person caught stealing. So give us a chance and we will perform to our best.”
Emmanuel Otaala, the state minister for primary health care, promised to follow-up the issue of adjustable beds with his ministry.
Otaala explained that the ministry had begun a policy that requires all medical officers to learn sign language.
The celebrations were held under the theme: ‘A good environment for PWDs is a better one for all’.
Tororo resident district commissioner Samuel Mpimbaza Hashaka, the district chairman Emmanuel Osuna and Paya LC5 councillor Alfred Oketcho, attended.
Cameroon: North West - Nkum Council Adopts 2008 Draft Budget
Cameroon Tribune (Yaounde)
29 January 2008
Posted to the web 29 January 2008
By Peter Adi Fonte
The Councillors of the Nkum Council met at the St. Pius X College Tatum recently and approved a draft budget of 209.883.011 francs for 2008. This budget shows an increase of 52.230.398frs over that of 2007.
Besides the adoption of the draft budget Councillors also approved motions to empower the Mayor to follow up a loan from FEICOM to construct a town hall, that the Mayor dispose of the Council four wheel drive Toyota vehicle which is now more a liability than an asset to the Council and for a new one to be purchased, the approval of the master plan of the Council as a working document and the approval of the sanitary inspection taxes and library fees.
The budgetary session was chaired by the Mayor of Nkum Council Alhadji Mayenin Kifon. He in his speech said in spite of the pre occupation of the last elections the Council still squeezed resources for road maintenance, the organization of Mini-agro Pastoral Show and fellowshipping with the disabled and handicapped persons. He said it was his wish that the Council should institute the 15th day of December every year as Council fellowship Day with the disabled and handicapped persons in Nkum. Mr. Mayenin thanked the Councilors for the trust bestowed on him and for voting a dynamic lady and experienced gentlemen to assist him. He called on Councillors to initiate projects in their respective areas and submit to the appropriate Council Committees for consideration.
He vehemently deplored the attitude of some business ladies of Nseh who refused to pay global tax last financial year with the complicity of some administrators. Mr. Mayenin called on the Councillors to examine the draft budget critically, objectively and realistically. The Senior Divisional Officer for Bui Mr. Panjouono Daniel in his speech said the meeting was meant to put in place a working tool that will enable the Councillors to ably represent their people in the Council. He said the Council should fully implement the instructions of the Minister of State, Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation that each Council should come out with a realistic budget. He defined a budget as a forecast of what money is estimated to be collected and spent. Mr. Panjouono in congratulating the Councillors for their brilliant election called on each and everyone of them to initiate and carry out development projects in their various areas. He said it was left to the Councillors to rally like one man and build up the Council and the Nkum Sub division.
Mengo Rotary aids the disabled
Wednesday, 30th January, 2008
By Francis Emorut
A NUMBER of people with disabilities will have easy movement after the Rotary Club of Mengo donated 280 wheel chairs worth sh100m.
“We conceived the wheelchair project idea after appreciating the difficulty handicapped persons face as far as mobility is concerned,” the club president, David Bukenya, said.
Over 30 beneficiaries received the wheel- chairs during the distribution exercise at Kampala Secondary School on Monday.
Bukenya said the beneficiaries in Mpigi would get their chairs at the district headquarters on Friday and those of Kabale on Saturday.
The exercise will later roll out to Bushenyi, Kanungu and Rukungiri districts. More 5000 wheelchairs, Bukenya added, would be imported in the next two months.
Emmanuel Semwanga, a project committee member, gave the beneficiaries tips on proper wheelchair use and maintenance. He cautioned them against vandalising the chairs.
Angola: Handicapped Association Celebrates 16th Anniversary
Angola Press Agency (Luanda)
30 January 2008
Posted to the web 31 January 2008
Caxito city, northern Bengo province, will host the national event marking the16 years of foundation of National Association of Angolan Handicapped (ANDA) being commemorated next February 01.
ANDA chairperson, Silva Lopes Etiambulo, told ANGOP that they will seize the opportunity to launch the first stone for the construction of a milling industry and a retread workshop.
According to the source, the event was initially scheduled to take place in Uige province, but due to organisational reason, there was a need to transfer it to Bengo province.
Comprising 35,000 disabled people, ANDA was created on 01 February 1992 in Luanda and operates country wide.
Nigeria: Subscribers - Waiting for Toll Free Lines
This Day (Lagos)
30 January 2008
Posted to the web 31 January 2008
If the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) makes good its plan to enable a national toll free emergency calling system, Nigerian subscribers may be the ultimate beneficiaries, Efem Nkanga reports:
The issue of national toll free lines which has for long eluded Nigeria despite its commendable advances in the telecoms sector is set to finally see the light of day. Many Nigerians who had been worried about the lack of a national emergency calling system called toll free lines breathed a huge sigh of relief when the NCC expressed its readiness some days ago to intervene and save the nation from the shame of the self-acclaimed 'giant of Africa' not having its own recognised national emergency toll free lines.
Through its representative, Mr Stephen Bello, the Executive Commissioner, Licensing and Consumer Affairs, the NCC had at a one-day stakeholders' forum unveiled plans to set things aright in that regard.
Bello had revealed plans put in motion by the commission to set up national emergency toll free centres in all the 36 states of the federation plus the Federal Capital, Abuja, that will enable quick responses to emergencies in the country. He disclosed that the emergency toll free line system will be solely financed by the commission and state governments.
Toll free lines are lines dedicated to ensuring that people, especially in times of crises, can make calls to a network without being charged for the calls. A toll free line is a special telephone number in which the calling party is not charged for the call by the telephone operator. Toll free lines also ensure that information on any segment of the society, be it in the area of health care, companies, travel, banking, politics insurance, and roads, among others, are just a dial away.
In developed countries, especially in the United Kingdom and United States, toll free lines have become a way of life. The service works in such a way that in virtually any sector and any area of life, especially in an emergency, a caller can pick up a phone and dial these dedicated numbers and any information or assistance required can be in seconds. A unique feature of the lines is that they usually begin with three digit codes 112, 411, 911, 999, 800, 888, 877, and 866 codes, among others.
Though some of the GSM operators in the country, especially Celtel had tried to operate the service, their efforts did not have the required national spread that a national calling plan requires because it was restricted to only the networks of the operator making the service to lack the uniformity that a national calling service should be identified with. Since the first toll free line was launched in the United Kingdom in July 1937, many nations across the globe have set up their own national emergency lines that have come handy when desirous. As a nation develops and grows, a national calling system is a prerequisite that cannot be ignored because of the immense benefits that it is capable of bringing to the citizenry.
A national emergency calling system provides 24-hour toll free telephone service that cuts across different areas of need like fire, robbery, accidents, domestic violence, and police etcetera. There are also different toll free lines dedicated to health, national disaster, hearing impaired, violation of human rights, research purposes and transportation, among others. Since the British implemented the 999 nationwide emergency number to render assistance in emergency situations like fire outbreaks, accidents, burglaries, etc, toll-free numbers have over time become very common and have proven in many instances to be life savers, enhancing access and help where there would have been none. The numbers are usually very easy to recall and the cost of the calls is usually borne by the government, participating networks or participating companies.
For example, if an accident occurs on the highway, all a passerby needs do is call a toll free line and in minutes, the information as to where the caller is, where the accident occurred etc, is received and help is sent in almost immediately. In many instances, the access to toll free lines have made the difference between life and death.
In America, the popular nationwide emergency toll free help line, 911 launched over 35 years ago, has made the 911 number synonymous with help in any emergency. In most of the states, the 911 line is synonymous with rescue, assistance and reliable help made available in minutes. Even little children are aware that in an emergency, the number to call is 911. Another popular nationwide information help line in America is the 411 toll free line. This line makes information available to the caller on virtually every area of need cutting across all sectors. Also not left out is the 1800 numbers dedicated to several areas of need. African countries like Uganda have keyed into the necessity for toll free lines. The Ugandan telecom in conjunction with Uganda Conflict Action Network a while ago launched its first toll free help lines number 0800 112 112 to enable Ugandan's access to emergency and routine medical services faster. This initiative has largely helped in ensuring that health care delivery is just a dial away. The partnership made it possible for those who normally would not have access to healthcare to embrace the service. It is noteworthy to mention that Ugandan telecom provides the 24 hours Toll free help line seven days a week, and also monitors the functioning and provision of technical services.
In Nigeria , the onset of technology in the nation no doubt has opened windows of opportunities to Nigerians that was only dreamed about in the past. These days, the technological way of doing things has almost taken over the nation. In virtually all areas of life, initiatives championed by technology is being embraced. We have such initiatives powered by technology like eHealth, eEducation, eTravel,eBusiness, ePayment, eCommerce, eGovernment, eAgriculture, eVoting,eProducts, eBanking etc gradually taking over the landscape of the nation. This is one reason why the delay in the nation having its own national emergency calling system had in the past led to people wondering why the nation was lagging behind in this regard.
Though Nigerians made do with the customer care toll free lines of the operators, it was obvious that its range of effectiveness was limited. A viable national emergency calling system that will help the socio economic landscape of the nation and work for the good of all is not negotiable and cannot be replaced with customer care toll free lines.
The proposed national emergency system about to be set up by the NCC will assuage the yearnings of Nigerians and be of tremendous help especially with the challenges posed by armed robbery attacks, road accidents, fire incidents and other emergencies that humans contend with on a daily basis.
The importance of this service is globally accepted as a tool that impacts positively on any society especially in emergency situations. That the proposed nationwide emergency helpline will in no small way impact positively on the nation is not in doubt. The system when it finally takes off will ensure that all Nigerians including children will be able to use it with zero cost implications so that in the event of any emergency, speedy help that could make the difference between life and death is made readily available. There has ben much concern that Nigeria , the giant of Africa has been without this service for so long.
That is why; the plan by the NCC to make the system available is commendable. Nigeria should endeavor to take its rightful position in Africa in all ramifications and should not just play lip service to being the giant of Africa but should be the leader of the continent in the true sense of it. Having a viable information communication technology system and all the benefits that come with it including a national toll free emergency calling system is one step towards becoming a sound economy.
Ghana: Persons With Disability Demand Attention From Presidential Candidates
Public Agenda (Accra)
1 February 2008
Posted to the web 1 February 2008
By Wisdom Dzidedi Donkor
The president of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled Mr. Ofori Debrah has urged the various presidential candidates to give the disabled community the attention they deserve as citizens of the nation.
In an interview with the Public Agenda Mr. Debrah lamented the fact that so far none of the candidates have made mention of the disabled in their national plans if elected to become president of this nation.
He recalled that right from the campaign days from the party levels till date the disabled community is disappointed realizing the fact that none of the political party leaders have the disabled in mind.
According to him out of the various leaders elected by their political parties' one of them would definitely be elected as the president of Ghana. "That is why it is disappointing to note that our future presidents do not think about us" he said.
He urged politicians to try as much as possible to include the disabled in their developmental programs.
He noted that the Ghana Federation of the Disabled (GFD) would be watching as the political season has just begun and would make no mistake in choosing the right person that would fight their course.
He urged all Persons with Disability to ignore any politician who would not have any plan for them
"GFD would not encourage its membership to toe the line of any flagbearer who appears insensitive to the plight of PWDs", he said.
The coordinator of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled, Ms Rita Kusi-Kyeremah congratulated the Black Stars for coming this far in the Ghana 2008 tournament. She urged the players and the technical team to keep up the spirit of team work which they have displayed so far.
Ms Kusi- Kyeremah also thanked MTN for making it possible for the members of the federation to watch the ongoing tournament.
On the disability friendliness of the various stadiums the coordinator said they are grateful to the authorities for leaving space for the disabled.
She said it is rather unfortunate that PWDs have no facility at the VIP stands of the various stadiums and appealed to the stakeholders to correct such abnormalities in any project.
She said she is very optimistic that the Black Stars will lift the trophy for the fifth time. She however, cautioned Ghanaians to be wary of how they celebrate victories of the Stars, especially the grand one on February 10th.
"If our celebrations will have to end in sadness due to accidents that could be prevented then it is better we don't celebrate at all", she said.
Oscar is half man, half machine
It is not politically correct to criticise people with disabilities but, to be fair, as an athlete, Oscar Pistorius does not have a disability.
He has an “enhanced” ability. The swimmer Natalie du Toit is an example of what should be the prerequisite for a disabled athlete wanting to compete against able-bodied athletes: the disabled athletes must retain their inherent disadvantage.
I don’t mean to be offensive but Pistorius is technically half man, half machine.
Would an athlete be permitted to run the Comrades with an oxygen-mask strapped to his face? The logic is similar. - BK Pillay, Greenwood Park
日時： 2月5日（火） 午後6時30分〜8時
会場： 世界銀行情報センター（PIC東京） http://www.worldbank.org/ptokyo
Botswana: Disabled Player Barred by Referee
The Voice (Francistown)
5 February 2008
Posted to the web 5 February 2008
Referees boss Harris Lebotse intends to apologise to a Ramotswa Home Defenders player who was not allowed to play in a league match by a referee just before Christmas because of a disability.
27-year- old Keneilwe Ramokhuwa, who was born with one arm shorter than the other, was barred from playing for his side's game against rivals Mokgosi by a whistle man, named only as Mr Piet.
"What happened is regrettable. FIFA does not allow discrimination of any kind and we cannot afford to go against that. I will write letters of apology to the team and the player. I will also apologise to the player for the embarrassment he suffered because of the incident", Lebotse responded to Voice Sport enquiries into the incident.
Quizzed on what action the Referees' Commission would take against referee Piet, Lebotse said: "We will look into the matter and take the necessary action. I appeal to referees to consult when they are not sure of what the rules and regulations are in any situation."
According to the player and his side's manager, Mosupi Ikaneng, referee Piet could not clearly explain the rule that barred the disabled from playing in a competitive football match.
"I was surprised by the referee's decision because this player has played for us for more than three seasons and we have never had any problems from referees. Referee Piet could not give me a clear explanation. His action disturbed our plans. I have a feeling we could have won the game, which ended in a one all, had Ramokhuwa played. He is one of our best players," Ikaneng said.
For his part the player revealed that, "It was a very painful experience especially when the referee pushed me away when I demanded an explanation. I am still confused about my status as a player although I have played some games since then. I have played for a very long time without any problems. Mr. Piet's decision left me in shock".
Cape boosts public transport for disabled
Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has improved the Dial-a-Ride service, which is a public transport service for special needs passengers such as the disabled and visually impaired.
Significant improvements have been made in the new tender for the service which was awarded to WCL Trading and took effect on 1 January 2008.
The Dial-a-Ride service is subsidised by the city and the provincial and national Governments for the exclusive use of special needs passengers with physical and visual impairments.
The objective of the service is to be efficient, safe and fair to all registered passengers.
This gives effect to the Department of Transport's motto of "Putting People, Public Transport and Quality of Life First".
Users are required to register on the data base which currently has about 5 000 listed users.
Users of Dial-a-Ride can book a trip either by SMS, by calling the toll-free number 0800 600 895 or by emailing: email@example.com.
The provincial department monitors the quality of the service through the toll-free Transport Information call centre at 0800 65 64 63 where users can register their compliments and/or complaints.
The department, in consultation with the provincial Government, followed an extensive stakeholder participation process before the tender was issued and awarded.
The upgraded service confirms the city's commitment to provide dignified, reliable and efficient public transport for passengers with special needs.
The restructured Dial-a-Ride service will provide:
The service operates seven days a week between 6am and 8pm.
Previously the service could accommodate 330 return bookings per day however now it has increased to 400.
The first two weeks of January saw an average of 30 bookings per day with the majority being for non-work related purposes.
Since 15 January this has changed to an average of 200 bookings per day of which 80 percent are during peak hours when people are being transported to and from work.
This is expected to grow as the enlarged capacity and extended operating hours become common knowledge.
The Dial-a-Ride service was previously provided by Ikapa Tours and Travel and the transition to the new operator, WCL Trading, took place without any disruptions.
WCL Trading has also employed four disabled people to do administrative work.
More vehicles are now available, with nine sedan vehicles (metered taxis) adding to the existing four panel vans and 13 Quantum taxis.
The vehicles, with new branding, are easily identifiable and the Wayfarer electronic ticketing system brings this service into the cash-free era.
The city, in accordance with existing legislation and in consultation with other stakeholders, decided to significantly reduce fares, making public transport for special needs passengers more affordable.
The minimum fare has been reduced by 20 percent to R4.00 and the maximum fare by 57 percent to R5.50. - BuaNews
Pension Funds Adjudicator
Press Office Feature : Ruling concerning the payment of a disability benefit as a result of mental infirmity
Company: Pension Funds Adjudicator
Author: Mamodupi Mohlala
Posted: 06 Feb 2008
Claims assessor’s decision unreasonable on the medical evidence
The Pension Funds Adjudicator issued a landmark ruling in the matter of P v Eskom Pension and Provident Fund regarding the entitlement to a disability benefit on the grounds of mental infirmity.
The complainant was employed by Eskom from 12 July 1989 until May 2005, when her employment contract was terminated due to ill-health. Prior to the termination of the employment contract, the complainant applied for an ill-health benefit and underwent various medical evaluations.
A report from Miss C, an occupational therapist, concluded that from a physical functional point of view, the complainant should be able to cope with the inherent physical demands of her job, although a period of work hardening would be required given the extended absence from work.
A neuropsychological assessment from Mr M, a psychologist firstly concluded that there was no wilful exaggeration of the symptoms and that the complainant’s present level of neuropsychological functioning would be incompatible with a return to the open labour market at present.
Furthermore, the complainant is approximately 20 months post trauma and only minimal further improvement in her neuropsychological difficulties can be expected at this stage. The psychologist concluded that some further improvement in the mental functioning may occur with more adequate psychological treatment.
Dr F, a neurologist, submitted a report stating that the complainant’s symptomatology appears to be of an entirely psychological nature and may be related to a personal injury claim against another medical practitioner.
He was of the view that the psychological problems could be resolved with time and motivation but this is unlikely to be resolved until the litigation is completed. He was also of the view that it was quite possible for the complainant to recover completely from this type of ordeal with no long term mental changes.
However, with regard to the question of her fitness to work, he was of the view that this was a difficult question to answer. He finally concluded that in the present situation the complainant would not be able to return to work but was of the view that there was an excellent chance that this may or could be resolved in the medium term.
Dr B, a specialist psychiatrist, concluded that the psychiatric treatment is poor, inadequate and far from optimal. The doctor was of the view that the complainant should gradually resume work with the employer with reduced stress levels and constant support from the employer.
The fund’s claim assessor rejected the ill-health disability application primarily on the grounds that the disability was not of a permanent nature. Instead, the complainant was paid a withdrawal benefit.
The complainant was unhappy with the decision of the fund and lodged a complaint with the adjudicator’s office.
The Adjudicator firstly held that in determining whether the member is entitled to a disability benefit and whether the fund has properly exercised its discretion, the enquiry is not whether the trustees were wrong in repudiating the claim, but rather whether the decision reached is reasonable based on the evidence before them.
After examining all the medical evidence and the submissions of the parties, the Adjudicator accepted that the medical evidence confirmed that the complainant was unable to return to employment in her current position.
Furthermore, in the absence of a rule creating such a condition, the liability for a disability benefit should not be declined simply on the basis that there may be a possibility that the disability may be removed by other medical treatment.
Therefore, the Adjudicator concluded that there was sufficient grounds for finding that the claims assessor’s decision was unreasonable on the medical evidence before him and held that the complainant was entitled to an ill-health disability benefit.
Therefore, the fund was ordered to pay the complainant an ill-health retirement benefit, less amounts already paid and further less any deductions permitted by the Act, together with interest thereon.
Federation Of Disabled Inaugurated
By Daily Guide
Thu, 07 Feb 2008
General News LOW GRAPHICS
THREE associations of disabled people in the Kwaebibirem District of the Eastern Region have formed a federation to fight for the cause of the disabled in the district.
The associations, Ghana Association of the Blind, Ghana Society of the Physically Disabled and the National Association of the Deaf, whose membership is about 200, have come together to form the Federation of Disabled Associations so they would become stronger in fighting for what is due them as physically challenged in the society.
At the inauguration of the umbrella association at Kade, the district capital, last Friday, president of the district federation, Stephen Nketia commended government for passing the Disability Act.
He asked all agencies involved in the implementation of the Act to give real meaning to government’s intention of passing the Act, saying it would be a waste of time if the attitude of society towards disabled persons did not change.
According to the district president, it is respectable to be disabled, stressing that disability did not mean inability.
“We want to be part of the society, so society must give us that recognition,” he said.
Mr. Nketia also called on government to consider increasing the share of the district common fund allocated for the disabled from 2 to 4 percent to help them properly meet their needs.
The guest of honour at the programme, who was the Deputy Eastern Regional Minister and MP for Kade, Hon Ofosu Asamoah pleaded with disabled people to stop roaming the streets and begging for alms.
He pointed out that people who were disabled should not see themselves as people who could not do anything for themselves and the nation.
He noted that there were people who are disabled but find themselves in lucrative businesses after studying or learning various trades.
“Government has put in place a lot of micro-credit facilities like the Rural Enterprise Project which are available to any group of persons who come together to form associations like yours.”
Hon Ofosu Asamoah stressed that the Disability Act, passed by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, was to ensure that people with disability were given equal opportunities in the nation's building process.
“Government knows this nation can only attain total development if all her human resources are well harnessed," he said.
He therefore appealed to the families of physically challenged persons not to abandon them to their fate but rather give them the necessary love, care and the support to enable them to live decent lives.
He tasked the executives of the umbrella association to manage affairs of the association effectively and efficiently to ensure its growth and sustenance. From Thomas Fosu Jnr, Kade
この会議には、 VENUS ILLAGAN、前DPIの議長をはじめ、昨年のWORLD
PROGRAMME OFACTION をスポンサーした、フィリッピン政府とNGO, World Bank
世界銀行のGlobal Partnership for Disability and Development (GPDD) プロ
We, the Global Partnership for Disability and Development (GPDD) is organizing a round table discussion in conjunction with the 46th Commission for Social Development entitled “The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities- Mainstreaming Disability in Development -who will do what?”
The purpose of the Round Table with open discussion is to provide various stakeholders a possibility to continue exchanging views on the practical ways forward towards mainstreaming disability matters in development. The focus will be on what each organization can and will do, and to seek synergies and opportunities for collaboration.
Friday, February 8, 2007
3.00 p.m.- 6.00 p.m.
Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations
866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 222
New York, N.Y. 10017, U.S.A
Tel. +1-212-355 2100.
"Mainstreaming Disability in the Development Agenda"
Commission for Social Development
United Nations Headquarters - Conference Room 4
10:00 a.m., Tuesday, 12 February 2008
Ms. Rosangela Berman-Bieler
Inter-American Institute on Disability & Inclusive Development
New York, U.S.A.
Ms. Venus M. Ilagan
National Project Director, Breaking Barriers for Children (DANIDA project)
Immediate Past Chairperson & Representative for International Relations, Disabled Peoples' International
Ms. Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo
Senior Operations Officer
Washington D.C., U.S.A.
Ms. Barbara Murray
Senior Disability Specialist
International Labour Organization (ILO)
Dr. Ronald Wiman
Senior Social Development Advisor
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Ambassador Claude Heller
Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations
New York, U.S.A.
USAID Offers 95,000 Dollars Support To Disabled Sports
Tue, 12 Feb 2008
General News LOW GRAPHICS
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has granted 95,000 dollars to the Ghana Society of the Physically Disabled (GSPD) towards organising a national wheelchair basketball competition in Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital.
The competition is to create a forum for the Society to select talented players to form a national men and women's wheelchair basketball teams capable of participating in both international and local competitions.
Mr Abdul-Aziz Mohammed and Francis Amedor, Chairman and Secretary of the Sports Wing of the Society, who briefed the GNA Sports in Kumasi, said the grant which is under the USAID Sports Diplomacy Initiatives, was geared toward advancing the Agency's policy of inclusion for people with disabilities.
Mr Amedor said part of the grant would be used to purchase modern basketball chairs, hand bikes, bikes for single leg amputees and training programmes in the maintenance of the chairs.
He said that the Ghana Social Club would be the venue for the competition with the opening ceremony expected to come off on Friday, February 15 at 09:30 hours.
Angola: Lwini Fund Organises Round-Table Meeting On Disability
Angola Press Agency (Luanda)
12 February 2008
Posted to the web 12 February 2008
Lwini Social Solidarity Fund organises on February 14, in the premises of the Journalists Training Centre (Cefojor), in Luanda, a round-table gathering under the topic "The disabled person, labour market and social integration", part of the activities celebrating the institution's 10th anniversary.
According to a press release from Lwini Fund, this round-table meeting is due to the need for the whole society to evaluate matters related with unemployment among disabled people and their integration in the labour market.
The document states also that the event as the objective of encouraging various social actors for the big challenge of promoting and implementing opportunities of social and work integration of disabled people.
The meeting aims also at facilitating the government's hard task in giving solution to big problems, connected with the life of disabled people, such as access to education and work, professional training, creating a sound environment and naturally improve their living standard.
Nigeria: Lack of Rehabilitation Increases Disability - Expert
Daily Trust (Abuja)
13 February 2008
Posted to the web 13 February 2008
A medical expert and director of Willing Health Advocacy and Training Support (WHATS), Mrs Victoria Amu-Uwakwe has blamed the increase in number of disability and handicapped people in the country on lack of rehabilitation therapy services.
Amu-Uwakwe stated this in Minna yesterday in a keynote address at the advocacy meeting with Niger State Hospital Management Board and other professionals in health care management.
She maintained that if there was adequate occupational therapy services most cases of impairment would not have resulted in physical handicap where the individual would have to depend on others for existence.
According to her, "occupational therapy services will add more value to medical treatment and it will reduce the level of handicapped individuals in our society."
She lamented that the nation's health care delivery system has suffered several shortfalls, describing the most obvious as that of rehabilitation therapy, which she said had not been given the required attention, partly because of shortage of occupational therapists.
She regretted that Occupational Therapy service is almost non-existent in health institutions in the country.
The WHATS director who lamented that only five health institutions had Occupational Therapy Services out of the 58 health institutions (state hospitals, neuropsychiatry hospitals, university teaching hospitals and Federal Medical Centres) in the country, stated that the facilities in a few places where it was available were obsolete.
She said while most developing countries like Kenya which is smaller than Nigeria produce over 40 occupational therapists annually, the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife, which is the only degree awarding institution, would be graduating its first set of six students in the year 2009.
She expressed the commitment of WHATS towards fashioning out strategies aimed at moving the nation's health sector forward in realisation of the heath reform agenda for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Government Committed To Social Integration Of Disabled People
Luanda, 02/15 - The Angolan Government has been engaged in the work of socially reintegrating disabled people, looking at their skills with realism, said Thursday in Luanda the Social Welfare minister, Joao Baptista Kussumua.
The minister said so to the press, on the fringes of the opening of the round-table meeting on “The Disabled, job market and social integration”, being promoted by the Lwini Fund.
The event is being held on the premises of the Journalists Training Centre (Cefojor), as part of the celebrations of Lwini Fund`s 10th anniversary.
According to Joao Baptista Kussumua, at the moment, an inventory is in progress, as well as the drafting of programmes intended to rekindle the hope of disabled people.
In his opinion, everyone can support, follow-up and guide disabled people, many of whom are family heads, have children and responsibilities.
The minister explained that his governmental department is now very much busy giving solutions to the problems facing disabled people, as well as the situation with children and reintegration of demobilised citizens.
The round-table meeting aims at helping the government to find solutions to the various problems facing disabled people, such as access to education, employment, professional training and improvement of their living standards.
The event also has the purpose of raising the awareness of the society to the role that disabled people can play for the development of the country and promote the policies and strategies of the state in favour of the physically impaired.
会場： 世界銀行情報センター（PIC東京） http://www.worldbank.org/ptokyo
世界銀行情報センター（PIC東京） / 障害分野NGO連絡会（JANNET） / 日本財団
共催 コーヒーアワー 「障害と開発」シリーズ 第10回
地下鉄三田線 内幸町駅、日比谷線・千代田線・丸の内線 霞ヶ関駅
世界銀行情報センター（PIC東京） E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel:03-3597-6650
Disabled support minibus-sitting law
BY Joy Ndovi
13:39:17 - 18 February 2008
Association of Physically Disabled in Malawi (APDM) has applauded Road Traffic Directorate (RTD) for the new minibus sitting capacity, because the old system was infringing on their rights.
RTD announced a three passenger per row sitting capacity for minibuses in November last year but Minibus Owners Association of Malawi obtained an injunction restraining RTD from implementing the law.
However, Justice Edward Twea on February 5 ruled in favour of RTD who have since implemented the law.
APDM director Charles Khawula said people with physical disabilities were facing a lot of problems because of the of the four people per seat system.
“For those that use a wheelchair, travelling was a nightmare because no minibus owner was willing to take the wheelchairs on board.
“And those that use crutches or cavaliers it was even much worse because of lack of space in the minibus,” Khwaula said.
Khawula however, pointed out that its members were still facing travelling problems because some minibuses had not changed the way their seats were fitted.
“We hope that with the new sitting capacity the minibus owners will arrange the seats in a manner that someone using crutches or cavaliers can sit properly,” he said.
Khawula said all along APDM tried to lobby for improvement in public transports sitting to accommodate people who have physical disabilities but their proposals met resistance.
“The Malawi Disability Policy calls for a public transport that is friendly to people with physical disabilities but in the absence of a law to back it up, we never made any headway,” he said.
“It was a bit easier during the United Transport of Malawi (UTM), Stagecoach or Shire Busline era, because their buses considered people with physical disabilities, but the introduction of minibuses made travelling very tough for us.”
APDM member Linias Damiano, of Chikolosa Village T/A Kandulu in Mwanza said travelling in minibuses was a nightmare for him that he stopped using minibuses altogether.
“Travelling from here to Blantyre was a nightmare for me. It meant I had to endure physical as well as mental torture because of the old sitting system.
“And upon returning from the journey I always fell sick due to how we were squeezed in the bus and I just decided to stop travelling in minibuses,” he said.
Damiano said he is yet to find out if he can now travel properly with the new sitting arrangement.
Mwanza National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) district coordinator Frank Zoto said there was need for society to start taking seriously issues of equal rights.
“In fact is not only the issue of travelling that is affecting the physically disabled people.
“There are issues like unfriendly infrastructure and general discrimination of people with physical disabilities,” Zoto said.
Zoto said this at a two-day workshop that non-governmental organization held for trainers of trainers in the district last Friday.
会場： 世界銀行情報センター（PIC東京） http://www.worldbank.org/ptokyo
Workshop for disabled opens in Accra
Wed, 20 Feb 2008
General News LOW GRAPHICS
Reverend Lawrence Lamina, Director of Handivangelism Africa, has called on Ghanaians to support disabled persons to enable them to develop their potentials.
Rev. Lamina made the call at the opening of a 10-day National Training Workshop for the leaders of disabled persons in Accra on Tuesday.
About 30 leaders of deaf institutions drawn from Mampong, Kumasi, Accra, Asamankese, Koforidua and Tema are attending the workshop.
Rev. Lamina said disabled persons should not be sidelined in the country but rather assisted to develop their potentials.
He therefore called for a systematic approach to their needs to enable them to lead a normal life.
Rev. Lamina also called on all to accept the disabled persons and avoid all forms of discrimination against them.
The Director, who is also the Director of Echoing Hills Village, a Non-Governmental Organization, called on organizations to take into consideration the disabled when they are putting up buildings.
He thanked the government for passing the Disability Bill, which he said would be of benefit to the disabled persons.
Mr Lewis Meyer, Course Director, said the disabled persons had a God given talent and potentials and must be given the necessary assistance to become independent in society.
South Africa: Social, Disability Grants Increase By R70
20 February 2008
Posted to the web 20 February 2008
Social and disability grants to nearly 12 million poor South Africans have been increased by R70, while the child support grant will be raised by R10.
"The maximum values of the disability and old age grants will increase by R70 a month to R940 in April this year, while the child support grant will increase by R10 in April and by a further R10 in October, to R220 a month," said Finance Minister Trevor Manuel.
Presenting his Budget Speech in Parliament on Wednesday, Minister Manuel said the child support grant would also be extended to include children up to 15 years old, effective from January 2009.
Minister Manuel said this indicated the need to review eligibility criteria for the grant, in line with practice in many countries, aimed at reinforcing the responsibilities of caregivers.
"These might include regular school attendance, for example, or immunisation of children in keeping with health requirements.
"There is rightly public interest in these matters, and we should ask this House to lead an active debate."
These increases matched or exceeded inflation, and took into account the disproportionate impact of price increases on the poor, Minister Manuel said.
The qualifying age for men for the state old age pension would also be reduced from 65 to 63 this year, to 61 in 2009, and 60 by 2010, he announced.
This reduction of the qualifying age for the old age pension will bring men into line with women, who already get their grant at 60.
"Drawing on the work of the interdepartmental team on social security reform, we will begin to address the difficulties of the present means tests," Minister Manuel told Parliamentarians.
Providing social grants are government's biggest poverty relief programme and this year's additional social assistance cost amounts to R12 billion over the next three years.
The total number of grant beneficiaries is 12.4 million, and expenditure on social assistance will be R75.3 billion in 2009.
The increase in number of social grants is part of government's national War Room for a War Against Poverty which was announced by Predident Thabo Mbeki in his State of the nation Address earlier this month.
The War Room will bringing together departments such as Social Development, Provincial and Local Government, Trade and Industry, Agriculture and Land Affairs, Public Works and Health as well as provincial and local administrations, which will work with non-governmental organisations and business to identify the interventions required in specific households and implement them as a matter of urgency.
Social transfers, Mr Manuel said are just part of the war on poverty, and must be matched by investment in capabilities and opportunities through skills, economic expansion and development of social infrastructure.
"To fight poverty in a holistic manner, a developmental state must balance growth in social assistance with progress on other fronts.
"Our budget proposals therefore reflect both a balance amongst various spending measures, and progressive implementation of reforms," he said, adding that it also required reliable monitoring and measurement tools.
All fingers at KFC
Ghana: "Disability is Not Inability"
Accra Mail (Accra)
22 February 2008
Posted to the web 22 February 2008
Mr. James Opoku Agyemang, a legal practitioner has urged the various organisations of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to unite and speak with one voice.
"If you want to reap the benefits of the Disability Law, then you should be more united to fight for a common cause", he said.
In an interview with the ADM, Mr. Opoku Agyemang advised PWDs not to divide their ranks and called on society as a whole to stand up and promote the interests of PWDs.
He called for the elimination of cultural practices that discriminate against persons with disabilities.
He said, to build a strong society, the effort of every individual is needed. He appealed to district assemblies to put capable PWDs in their workforce.
"We should not look at whether the person is disabled or not but what he can do to help the community", he said.
Mr. Maxwell Boateng, a human rights activist appealed to various transport unions to educate their members on the provision of the law requiring the reservation of seats on their vehicles for PWDs.
"Failure to pick PWDs in your vehicles violates the human rights of these PWDs. They are humans just like you and I and we cannot afford to treat them unfairly. They must be treated equally and given fair opportunities in life. After all PWDs in other countries are making positive impacts even though they are considered to be physically handicapped", he said.
He called on the various associations to dialogue with all stakeholders for a period of two years, after which anyone found flouting the law would be taken to court.
Mr. Boateng said, "Disability is not inability" and urged associations to assist in changing people's attitudes towards the disabled.
District assemblies, he said, must ensure that all buildings conform to the act.
Ms. Magdalene Osei-Wusu, a physically challenged person said democracy was not only about the freedom of speech, but also the elimination of all forms of discrimination in society.
She expressed worry about the way society discriminates against women and the disabled and said it is about time they are given equal opportunities in life.
"We might be physically handicapped, but we can do something when given the opportunity", she said.
In a related development, a spokesperson for the Korle-Bu/Korle-Gonno Chapter of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mrs. Deborah Adjoa Amankwah has appealed to the government to direct resources in establishing more institutions and career training centres for PWDs.
She said the establishment of more institutions and career training centres for PWDs, would enable them to become more productive and independent.
"It would keep them busy and create avenues for development for them. Those PWDs who beg in the streets would also shy away from begging because they would have an attractive means of livelihood", she said.
Nigeria: Help From Abroad for the Physically Challenged
24 February 2008
Posted to the web 25 February 2008
Abilis Foundation, a Finland based international organization that focuses on assisting organization of persons with disabilities around the world, has declared its interest in helping Disabled People Organization (DPOs) in Nigeria and has requested the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities to share this information with organizations and groups in Nigeria as a way of demonstrating its commitment towards promoting disabled based projects in the sub Sahara Africa.
Speaking during a press conference, the executive director of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, Mr. David Anyaele, said that the gesture was a cheering news for disabled organizations in Nigeria because of the enormous benefits such grant opportunity portends. He listed the benefits to include increase in awareness of issue of disability, visibility of Nigerian DPOs programmes as well as increase the capacity of Nigerian DPOs in managing international grants.
Anyaele said, "While visiting Kintex, Korea for the 2007 disabled people international world assembly, I held several meetings with different international development partners on inclusion of Nigeria DPOs in their organizations programmes since Nigeria has the highest population of person with disability in the sub Sahara Africa, and one of such meetings was with Mr. Kalle Konkkola and Mrs. Taya Heinonen the chairman and chief executive respectively of Abilis Foundation."
According to Ms Tolu Adedeji, the programme officer of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, Abilis Foundation willingness to extend grant opportunity to Nigeria DPOs underscores the importance of Nigeria's participation at the 2007 DPI world assembly which is now yielding desired results.
Gambia: Two Gadhoh Members Return From Spain
FOROYAA Newspaper (Serrekunda)
25 February 2008
Posted to the web 25 February 2008
By Yaya Bajo
Two GADHOH board members, Madam Amie Cham and Mr. Landing Badjie, have recently returned from the 15th World Federation of the Disabled Congress in Spain.
Madam Cham is the chairperson of the association's Female Wing and Mr Badgie is the deputy to the entity's Executive Director and a sign language teacher.
Madam Cham and Mr. Badjie met with prominent men and women who are deaf and have acquired a lot of new experiences. According to the duo, everyone they have met and everything they have been shown have indeed added something to their experience. "Most of the people we met were friendly and courteous. We gave information about The Gambia and GADHOH and received information on the outside world, as well", they reported.
Amie and Landing shared their experience with colleagues and friends and have suggested to the national radio and television authorities, at a press conference they convened, to seriously consider introducing broadcasting sign news so that The Gambia will not be left behind by the development of the deaf taking place in the other parts of the world.
Patient raped in mental hospital
Monday, February 25, 2008 - Web posted at 7:29:12 GMT
THE Ministry of Health has launched an investigation into the alleged rape of a patient in the State Psychiatric hospital in Windhoek on Tuesday.
A 21-year-old mentally handicapped female patient was allegedly raped by another patient - a prisoner, also reportedly mentally handicapped.
It is unclear from official information how the alleged suspect obtained access to the victim, as prisoners are usually locked up under Police guard in the separate Forensic Psychiatry section of the hospital.
According to Ministry officials and Police, no witnesses to the crime have been found, but sources at the hospital and family members of the victim have all charged that the suspect was not only found inside the woman's room, but also readily admitted to having committed the crime.
"I did it because I was hungry [for a woman] ...
," a family member of the victim recounted the alleged words of the suspect as told to them by a doctor dealing with her niece's case.
Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Norbert Forster, on Friday acknowledged that the Ministry had launched an investigation.
He said the investigation was being hampered by the fact that neither the alleged victim nor her alleged rapist could be interviewed because of their mental state.
However, doctors, nurses and ward security guards had been ordered to make written statements, Forster said.
These would be forwarded to the Health Professions Council of Namibia for further investigation.
Furthermore, the family of the victim are yet to lay criminal charges against the suspect with the Namibian Police.
When contacted last week, family members said they were ignorant of what procedures to follow, saying they would wait for the woman's mother to come to Windhoek from the North before proceeding with the case.
By yesterday they had still not laid any charges, despite the mother having arrived.
They said yesterday that they tried to file a case on Saturday, but were referred to the Police's Woman and Child Protection Unit.
The Unit is only open to the public on weekdays.
Despite this, however, Police spokesperson Chief Inspector Angula Amulungu said on Friday that Police had already started investigating the allegations last week, and were set to continue this investigation on Friday.
Sources at the hospital have reported that both the victim and suspect have already been tested for HIV-AIDS, and that both have been declared negative.
The woman has since been moved to another ward, which Forster said was more secure.
This incident came only two days after a public outcry last week over alleged negligence at another public health facility in Windhoek.
In that incident, which happened last Sunday, a three-day-old baby died of snakebite, apparently because health workers failed to recognise and treat her symptoms as an emergency.
The Ministry is investigating that incident too.
On Friday, the Medical and Dental Council and the Nursing Council of Namibia announced they too had decided to launch an investigation into the snakebite incident.
"The Medical and Dental Council of Namibia ...
and the Nursing Council of Namibia...
sadly took note of the unfortunate incident in which the life of a three-day-old baby was lost at the Katutura State Hospital Casualty on 16 February 2008 after being bitten by a poisonous snake.
As part of the functions of these councils to protect the public in terms ...
of the Medical and Dental Act, 2004 and ...
of the Nursing Act, 2004, the councils have the power to investigate allegations of negligent or unprofessional conduct by healthcare professionals registered under the provisions of the above Acts," the councils announced in a statement.
The councils urged members of the public who had witnessed the event to approach the councils.
The number to call is (061) 24 5586.
Kenya: 29 Disabled Killed in Poll Violence
The Nation (Nairobi)
25 February 2008
Posted to the web 25 February 2008
Twenty nine mentally sick people have been killed in post-election violence, according to the Kenya Society for the Mentally Handicapped (KSMH).
The society's CEO, Ms Eddah Maina, said that such people were marginalised by society, making it difficult for them to seek legal protection.
"Orphans and the mentally disabled people are rejected by Government orphanages, which claim they lack special facilities. In adulthood, their care is not even recognised by law," she said.
The KSMH head also accused the police of grossly violating the rights of people with intellectual disabilities while handling criminal cases involving them.
Speaking during celebrations to mark the National Day for Persons with Mental Disabilities at Uhuru Park's Freedom Corner yesterday, Ms Maina condemned the social mistreatment of the mentally challenged.
Ghana: DCEs Impediments of Government Policies - GFD
Accra Mail (Accra)
28 February 2008
Posted to the web 28 February 2008
Mr. Yaw Ofori Dabra, President of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled (GFD), has accused some District Chief Executives (DCEs) for being impediments to the smooth implementation of the disbursement of the two per cent allocation of the Districts Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) to support their activities.
He said the intervention by the government to alleviate and improve the living conditions of the majority of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) was a big relief to the Organisations of PWDs and the Civil Society Organisations in disability work.
"Sadly enough, our joy and hope were short lived when the president's own chief executives who should execute government policies and programmes became impediments to the smooth and effective implementation of this otherwise kind and humane policy action of government," he said.
Mr Dabra was addressing participants at a decentralization workshop organised by the Public Agenda to discuss "Persons With Disabilities and the DACF: Rationale Behind and Modalities of Accessing the Fund".
The forum sponsored by Rise And Voice Initiative, a non governmental organization attracted PWDs from all the three categories - visually impaired, deaf and physically disabled, DCEs, Department of Social Welfare, the Media and Civil Society Organisations.
In the 2007 guidelines for the utilization of the DACF, two per cent of each MMDAs share of the fund was required to be used in support for PWDs.
Mr Dabra said right from the inception of the scheme, the initiative has been fraught with daunting challenges like uncooperative attitudes of many DCEs who in spite of the mandatory nature of the allocation blatantly ignore it and misapply or divert the funds to other areas of development.
"Some also grudgingly give out a tiny portion of the actual amount and claim that they have used the funds to serve the needs of some PWDs they themselves have identified or approached them in their offices," he said.
He said all these challenges threatened the sustainability of the scheme and urged the Administrator of the DACF to give mandatory guidelines to spell out the use of the money, open a separate accounts for the funds to be lodged in and established an oversight committee involving the assemblies and the PWDs to disburse and monitor the use of the funds.
Mr Eric Osae Oduru, Lecturer, Institute of Local Government Studies, called for a collaborative efforts of the National Council for PWDs, the Ghana Federation of the Disabled, the Ministries of Finance, Local Government, Rural Development and Environment, Manpower, Youth and Employment and other stakeholders to formulate appropriate guidelines to make the scheme a reality.
However, he said, an account should be taken of how previous transfers have been utilized by the various MMDAS in promoting the well-being of PWDs.
Mr Magnus Nicol, the Administrator of the DACF, said the fund was to assist activities of the PWDs and could be accessed through the Department of Social Welfare. He urged the GFD and the assemblies to collaborate to set out guidelines as to how the fund should be used.
Mr Micheal Boadi, Project Coordinator, Public Agenda/RAVI, said for a comprehensive social protection framework to be consistent with the National Disability Act, it had to cover the vulnerable and marginalised in society.
Mr Kwabena Appaih-Pinkrah, Vice Chairman, Parliamentary Select Committee on Local Government and Rural Development, urged the MMDAs to initiate the establishment of committees to include representatives of all PWDs groupings and the budget officers to oversee the disbursement of the fund.
Namibia: Visually Impaired Get Legal Training
New Era (Windhoek)
28 February 2008
Posted to the web 28 February 2008
People with visual impairment are undergoing training this week to make them aware of certain legal matters that are in place.
The workshop, which started Tuesday and ends today, is the first of its kind and involves training in will writing, HIV/AIDS and human rights, domestic violence, the maintenance and rape acts and divorce.
Chief Social Worker in the Ministry of Health and Social Services Betsy Basson said on Tuesday that the visually impaired were left out of these legal issues that are in place and which they could use to their advantage.
She said: "In the past, these people were left out of awareness raising programmes." One of the many concerns the visually impaired have is that they cannot read Braille.
Deputy Health Minister Petrina Haingura when she opened the workshop said the training was a step in the right direction as it was geared towards empowering them with knowledge for them to care for themselves.
Haingura said social integration required that people with disabilities are recognised and appreciated by families, communities and society. Family members of the visually impaired are also attending the workshop.
Namibia has passed various legislation including the National Policy on Disability, which aims at achieving full integration of people with disabilities into society. The Government promulgated the National Disability Council Act in 2004, which makes provision for the establishment of the National Disability Council.
Haingura said the ministry is preparing to invite nominations to serve on the council, which will oversee the implementation of the National Policy on Disability, which was adopted by Parliament in 1997.
The Legal Assistance Centre is conducting the training.
Today, participants will outline the challenges they face in their daily lives, which Basson said would be incorporated into an action plan.
Ghana: Disabled Pursue DCEs Over Common Fund
Public Agenda (Accra)
29 February 2008
Posted to the web 29 February 2008
Mr. JoshuaMagnus Nicol, Administrator of the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) has promised to lobby the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment to direct District Assemblies (DAs) to form special committees to facilitate the release of two percent of the Common Fund meant for supporting activities of persons with disabilities (PWDs).
He has also pledged to ask DAs, through the sector ministry, to create a separate ledger for managing the two percent of the DACF allocated for supporting activities of PWDs. However, this is dependent on the Controller and Accountant General (CAG) concurring to the creation of a new account for that purpose.
Should the CAG object to the idea, the present arrangement whereby a single account is kept for managing all monies disbursed under the DACF will remain, Mr. Nicol disclosed on Tuesday at the 7th Decentralisation forum organized by Public Agenda. It was under the theme: "District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) and Persons with Disabilities."
The Common Fund Administrator further assured the over 60 participants, drawn from DAs, the Ghana Federation of Disabled (GFD), civil society and the media, that their suggestions would be factored into future decisions regarding the disbursement of the DACF.
As a first step, he told the forum that he would suggest the formation of the special committees to the Minister in time to allow the idea to be incorporated into the 2008 guidelines for the disbursment of the Common Fund. He said this should be done even before he (the Administrator) presents the 2008 formula for disbursement of the DACF to Parliament in less than two weeks for approval.
The function of the special committees, he noted, will be to liaise with the social services sub-committees of the various DAs to ensure unfettered access by PWDs to the portion of the Common Fund meant for supporting their activities.
In the end, the measure will help improve transparency and accountability in the management of the PWDs component of the Common Fund.
The initiative has worked in the Birim South District Assembly (known from today as Birim Central Metropolitan Assembly), which is the sole DA to have accounted for every pesewa of allocations for PWDs as part of the Common Fund transfers, at least, for the year 2007.
The plan to replicate that success story in other DAs came about as a result of punches PWDs threw at DAs for failing to properly account for Common Fund monies meant to support their activities. Group members contended at the forum that most DAs could not account for those funds, especially in 2005 and 2006 when there were no guidelines for utilizing the DACF.
"The Guidelines for utilization of District Assemblies' Common Fund 2007" stated, "Two percent (2%) shall be utilized to support initiatives by the physically challenged in the District. This fund is meant to assist people with disabilities (PWD) to organize programmes to create awareness about their activities, their rights and obligations, etc. However, it is not to be used as a micro-credit fund."
Mr. Nicol explained, "The fund is available only to the association of Disables in the district. Therefore to access the fund, the request should come from the Association or Federation of the Disable," stressing, the association in the district should be recognized by Department of Social Welfare.
He, however, advised that the associations should submit their programs and proposals to District Chief Executives, preferably at the beginning of the year. "This will assist the DCE and his team to incorporate the plan/programmes into the District plans" since the percentage available for the PWD activities will only be known when the quarterly releases are made.
Hon. Alhaji Ahmed Yirimea Awudu, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment intimated that PWDs should liaise with the Social Welfare Department through which government recognizes NGOs and other groups.
To discourage individual PWDs from accessing the fund from DAs, he supported calls for the formation of PWD associations in districts where they do not exist.
Despite the 2007 guidelines, the PWDs accused the DAs of not dealing collectively with them, pointing out that in most cases DCEs dealt with individuals with disabilities without reference to the association.
This has caused them to suspect something fishy as portrayed in a call by Mr. Owiredu Dwamena, a visually impaired, to the effect that the DACF Office should furnish the GFD and its constituent bodies with a list of all monies transferred to the DAs under the DACF.
Mr. E.T. Plaha, Chief Advisor to the GFD called for the establishment of PWD associations in DAs where the organisations do not exist. Going beyond that he said "give the organisations the money so that they will empower themselves."
Hon. Appiah-Pinkrah, Vice Chairman, Parliament's Committee on Local Government and Rural Development lauded the decision to push for the formation of the special committees.
However, he preferred the process to be initiated at the grassroots so that the minister's directive would go to complement it instead of the idea coming from the top. (See details of the forum in the Decentralisation Agenda on Monday.
Nigeria: Disabled Block Yobe Govt House Over Neglect
Daily Trust (Abuja)
2 March 2008
Posted to the web 3 March 2008
Over 200 disabled persons comprising the crippled, the blind, the dump and deaf from Potiskum local government in Yobe State stormed Government House Damaturu in protest against their alleged neglect by Mamman Ali-led administration in the state.
They insisted that they must see Governor Ali to inquire why he neglected them after they had done everything possible to ensure his success during the 2007 governorship elections.
The protesters, including several women and their children, blocked the entrance to the Government House last Friday even as the security operatives at the gate denied them access into the house, a development which prevented key government functionaries and visitors from going in and out of the Government House along Maiduguri Road for several house.
Sunday Trust saw about seven vehicles which where chartered by the "special people" and conveyed them to Damaturu from Potiskum where they barricaded the entrance to the house.
The governor had on Thursday last week staged a rally to celebrate his victory at the Appeal Court in Jos over Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who challenged the governor's victory at the gubernatorial elections.
He told a mammoth crowd from the 17 local governments in the state that with his victory, the dividends of democracy would reach every nook and cranny of the state.
But the disabled people said during their protest that "we have not seen any concrete agenda that has to do with us".
They refused to heed to the pleadings of the protocol officers and security operatives who called on them to elect three representatives that would go and see the governor on their behalf.
The crippled maintained that since they were not allowed into the premises of the government house, the governor "must come to the gate to see and listen to us".
The Deputy Governor of the state, Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam, however came over to see them at the gate and pleaded with them that the governor was not aware that they were at the gate and refused entry.
Malam Garba Isa, who spoke on behalf of the group, stated that they were not at the government house to seek for financial assistance, but to demand that the government should come to their aid so that they would be self-reliant.
Isa said as bonafide citizens of the state, his members had the constitutional right to demand for the dividends of democracy as according to him, they had been relegated to the background by the government after elections.
He pointed out that they actively participated in the campaigns and the subsequent election that brought the government into office, stressing that they should also be considered in the scheme of things.
He said their association was formed about 18 years ago and they were able to build a skill acquisition institute with the support of the World Bank, even as they frowned at the "I don't care attitude exhibited by the government on the plight of our members".
Rwanda: Danish Aid for Disabled
The New Times (Kigali)
2 March 2008
Posted to the web 3 March 2008
The Disabled People's Organisation of Denmark (DPOD) is to help disabled Rwandans.
In an interview last week, Bengt Kokhauge, DPOD representative, said the Danish organisation will help depending on the priorities of the Rwandans.
He said that once their needs or problems have been identified, a report will be presented to a consultant to determine how best they can help. A funding programme is to be launched with an operational time framework of four years.
Pierre Claver Rwaka, president of the Federation of Disabled Persons in Rwanda (FDPR), said that FDPR which is 10 years old, lacked human capacity, funds for income generating projects, and above all, a strategic plan.
Serestin Ndolis, assistant chairman of a disabled association in Nyagatare district, also said that they are badly in need of empowerment.
He also said that they would like DPOD to help in their efforts to advocate for the rights and laws protecting the disabled as per the UN convention. To this Kokhauge said that DPOD works within the boundaries of Rwandan law.
DPOD money will fund skills training, advocacy for laws and protection of the disabled and technical support.
"Aid is only for associations not individuals," Kokhauge said.
Rwaka is optimistic this will be a huge boost to the development of the federation that could see its 53 members multiplying and expanding from 3 districts to whole country.【付記】
Ghana: Common Fund Not Micro Credit Fund - DACF Administrator
Public Agenda (Accra)
3 March 2008
Posted to the web 3 March 2008
District Chief Executives (DCEs) have been asked to desist from giving the two percent Common Fund meant for People With Disability (PWDs) as micro credit.
According to Mr. Joshua Nicol, Administrator of the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) the fund is meant to assist PWDs to organize programmes, create awareness and educate the public about their activities, rights and obligations.
Furthermore, the rationale behind the allocation of the fund to the PWDs in the various districts is to help the country meet its developmental goals as stipulated in the GPRS 1 and II.
Speaking at the seventh Public Agenda -RAVI workshop on the theme "District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) and the People with disabilities" he indicated that his outfit has received reports of some DCEs disbursing the money as loans to the disabled which they are to repay.
He was of the view that such acts by the DCEs contravene the rationale for the allocation of the funds since some of them go to the point of requesting for collaterals from the disabled which rather worsens their plight.
In addition, the phenomenon is at variance with the government's aim of adequately catering for the disabled in a bid to make them independent so they could contribute to the development of the country.
Mr. Nicol therefore called on PWDs to be abreast with the Disability Act so as to prevent misguided assemblies from taking undue advantage of their plight.
In his view Organisation of PWDs could collaborate with District Assemblies to buy equipments such as wheel chairs and tools to enhance the business and lives of their members, instead of giving it to them as loans.
Hon. Alhaji Ahmed Yirimea Awudu, Deputy Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment (MLGRDE) also bemoaned the attitude of some of the DCEs who have been accused of giving the funds as micro credit.
"They are the vulnerable in society who need help the most so when you give the money to them as loans how do you expect them to repay," he wondered.
According to the Deputy Minister it is unfortunate that OPWDs do not exist in some districts and this also accounted for their inability to access the fund.
"If the various OPWD have not been able to set up district associations or offices the District Assemblies can also help them to form the association so that they can equally be helped," He noted.
However the DCE for Mfantseman West, Hon. Robert Quainoo-Auther held a different view about the funds being given out as credits and also the district dealing with individuals who are not part of disabled associations.
He held the view that the bottlenecks within the OPWDs makes it imperative for them to use their discretion to deal with issues of emergency such as offering scholarships to needy disabled students and also giving them money to engage in small scale farming activities.
In his view the OPWDs do not present their programmes to the districts early and since they(DCEs) have the prerogative and also their aim to help the vulnerable in their district they are forced to deal with individual who are need.
Mozambique: HIV/Aids And the Disabled
Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)
3 March 2008
Posted to the web 3 March 2008
Mozambican civil society organizations are launching this week a new approach in the fight against HIV/AIDS to include special attention on the plight of disabled people.
Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that there are about two million people in Mozambique suffering some degree of disability, and organizations that work with these people claim that this group is being excluded from actions to fight against the AIDS pandemic.
Those organizations note that disabled people are at a greater risk of infection by HIV. The Forum of Mozambican Disabled Associations (FAMOD) says that these people are being stigmatised, which gives them less opportunities to get married. Thus they tend to have more than one sexual partner and have unstable sexual relations.
Furthermore, disabled women and children are more likely to become the victims of rape, and disabled people in general have less access to quality health services and to information on HIV/AIDS.
According to the 2007 statistics on HIV prevalence in Mozambique, at least 324,000 disabled people are also HIV positive.
FAMOD, in partnership with the European NGO Handicap International and other partners has scheduled a workshop for this week to launch the African Campaign on the Disabled and HIV/AIDS.
The aim of the workshop is to divulge the guidelines of the African Campaign on the Disabled and HIV/AIDS in Mozambique and bring awareness to political leaders and the public at large on the vulnerability of disabled people to the pandemic.
A further objective is to ensure better access of disabled people to HIV testing, medical assistance and treatment.
The African Campaign is being coordinated by the secretariat of the African Decade (1999-2009) for the Disabled and by Handicap International.
Hard of hearing
The Blogumist www.tertia.org Published:Mar 04, 2008
My poor husband has a hearing disability. It is not something he likes to talk about. Not that he likes to talk about much.
If the average man speaks 1000 words a day to our 2500, then some other man is walking around with an extra 500 or so words that don’t belong to him.
It is not an entirely debilitating disability and I’ve heard it is fairly common among men. He functions fairly well in normal society - he has a good job, he is a good father. If you didn’t know better, you probably wouldn’t notice it.
It is a condition that gets worse as men get older. The longer we are married, the worse his hearing seems to get.
Apparently, even though he is within spitting distance, he is unable to hear a word I say. Especially when I’m making a request for action; that is, for him do some chores. Then I have to repeat everything I say.
Surprisingly, there is nothing wrong with his long-distance hearing. He is able to hear my whispered conversations with my mother, three rooms away with the TV blaring in the background.
I’m thinking of learning sign language. Anyone know the sign for “annoying bastard”?
THAT is why women speak 2500 words for every 1000 of their husbands’. Men don’t bloody listen the first time around! - Tertia Albertyn. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attributions Sharealike 2.5 ZA licence
Baltimore Sun Examines Masai Practices That Could Lead to Spread of HIV
[Mar 05, 2008]
The Baltimore Sun on Sunday profiled the Masai communities in Kenya and Tanzania, including some of their practices that could lead to the spread of HIV. HIV prevalence is low among Masai because they generally do not have sexual relationships with other groups. Among Kenyan Masai, HIV prevalence is estimated at 2.5%, about half of the national average, the Sun reports.
According to the Sun, the risk of HIV is increasing among Masai communities because concurrent sexual partnerships are traditionally considered proper. In addition, many Masai have low awareness of HIV/AIDS and how to prevent transmission of the virus. Masai men are beginning to travel to urban areas for work, having sex with non-Masai women and then transmitting the virus when they return to their communities. In addition, polygamous marriages contribute to an increased risk of HIV among Masai.
Edward Porokwa, who directs a not-for-profit group that lobbies for Masai and other traditional groups, said, "It is a very dangerous environment for the Masai," adding that "everybody will be bombed" as members of the group begin to transmit HIV (Calvert, Baltimore Sun, 3/2).
Draft Legislation Seeks To Protect People in Malawi From Healers Claiming To Cure HIV/AIDS
[Mar 05, 2008]
Malawi lawmakers on Tuesday began examining draft legislation that aims to prevent traditional healers from claiming that they can cure HIV/AIDS, AFP/Mail & Guardian reports. Mary Shawa, principal secretary for nutrition and HIV/AIDS at the president's office, announced the legislation last week.
The bill seeks to "regulate and protect people from healers who prescribe sex with albinos, the disabled or virgins as a cure for HIV and AIDS," Shawa told a Parliamentary committee that was asked to provide input on the measure before it is submitted to the full Parliament later this year. Under the measure, the country's 30,000 traditional healers -- many of whom work in rural towns and villages -- would be required to register with a board created by the Ministry of Health. Shawa said that when the bill "passes into law, all traditional healers claiming to cure AIDS will be dealt with." She did not provide details on possible punishments for healers who claim to cure the disease. The bill was drafted in collaboration with traditional Malawi healers and the World Health Organization, AFP/Mail & Guardian reports (AFP/Mail & Guardian, 3/4).
The bill also would seek to prevent religious leaders from advising their congregations to give up antiretroviral treatment for prayer. The Malawi Council of Churches last month said that five HIV-positive people who had been taking antiretrovirals died after their church pastor advised them to stop taking the drugs because the pastor said they had been cured by prayer (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/27).
According to AFP/Mail & Guardian, newspaper and radio advertisements for HIV/AIDS cures also are common in Malawi. A United Nations-funded study last year found that about 60% of people ages 15 to 49 in Malawi lack knowledge about HIV prevention. According to official figures, 14% of Malawi's 12 million residents are living with HIV, and there are about 78,000 AIDS-related deaths and 100,000 new cases annually (AFP/Mail & Guardian, 3/4).
Fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa Requires More Than 'Fruits of Science,' Opinion Piece Says
[Mar 05, 2008]
The "fruits of science" and antiretroviral drug programs alone will not curb the spread of HIV in Africa, Jonny Steinberg -- author of "Sizwe's Test: A Young Man's Journey Through Africa's AIDS Epidemic" -- writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece. Antiretroviral programs should "heed the frailty and complexity of the human beings they aim to reach," Steinberg writes. He adds, "In particular, for men who have been disabled by shame, treatment needs a new face, one that presents AIDS not as the core of a new political identity but as a chronic illness like any other."
Raising issues such as the possibility that HIV/AIDS is seen by some Africans as an "attack on a man's generative capacity" or a "white conspiracy" is "uncomfortable for two reasons," Steinberg writes. "First, they suggest that helping a continent in need is complicated and difficult," he writes, adding, "Second, asking why sick Africans do not always rush to get treatment requires thinking and speaking about them anthropologically, which brings its own special fear: the fear of patronizing them, of blaming them and their indigenous ways for their illness."
According to Steinberg, no one in the U.S. "has seriously argued that medicine single-handedly" helped control the HIV/AIDS epidemic among men who have sex with men. Before advances in treatment, MSM "entered into a collective dialogue that slowly and painfully re-examined the fundamentals of their identities and sexual practices," according to Steinberg. MSM "were forced to think about themselves anthropologically and to recalibrate their relation to themselves and the world," he writes, adding, "And so it will have to be with Africans."
Steinberg notes that the need to make antiretrovirals universally accessible in Africa is "urgent," but the "odds are stacked against these drugs becoming the harbinger of a wider African redemption." Africa needs "fortification against the comforting Western fantasy" that it "will be saved by science alone," Steinberg writes. He adds that a "great epidemic by its nature assembles people into difficult relations with themselves and one another," concluding, "There is no substitute for working through this terrain. Africans, after all, are as complicated" as white MSM (Steinberg, Los Angeles Times, 3/5).
A kaisernetwork.org interview with Steinberg is available online.
South Africa: Parents Must Support Disabled Children - Deputy President
7 March 2008
Posted to the web 7 March 2008
Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has appealed to parents to give their support to their disabled children to help them enter the world of deaf people in the country.
Speaking at a special lunch held at the Transoranje School for the Deaf in Pretoria West on Thursday, the Deputy President thanked the staff, the principal, parents, and the school's governing body for their efforts to assist deaf children in the school.
"I want to thank the parents especially who are here, to encourage them never to give up the support that we have to give the children because we all know that without education, without the support from them [parents] to work harder, we will compromise their future."
She said she was pleased to be in company of children, parents and educators who always helped children to understand and enter the world of deaf people.
"It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you today [Thursday]. It is always good when one spends time with children.
"It is even more special to come to a school where children do a bit of work. We, old people, like to see children busy developing themselves making their future bright," Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
She commended the school for its hard work and encouraged them to continue with their work to ensure a better world for deaf children.
"I know we are not where we want to be ... where we're suppose to be, but the harder you expose us to your work and help us to understand it, the better the world is going to be for children who are deaf and come out of this school.
"Even when the going is tough, just know this is a fundamental contribution towards making the world a better place not only for deaf children, but for humanity in general."
Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka assured the school that she will make an effort to learn sign language.
"I will like to come here next time and make a long speech in sign language and I will work very hard and you will give me marks to tell me whether I am doing well or not," she said.
Disability no inability
By Njabulo Dlamini
You've got to give it to Christ Worshippers gospel group, that unique and upcoming group comprising visually impaired persons.
That they have refused to allow circumstances dictate to them is without a doubt. In recent weeks they have endeared themselves into the hearts of critics and fanatics alike, further confirming that disability is no inability. They have, with unparalleled distinction, triumphed over situations some would have considered obstacles to their destinations.
At some instances, doors were shut on their faces and still some in the industry have refused to swallow the hard fact that Christ Worshippers is a force to be reckoned with, and here to stay.
The 10-member group comprises ex-pupils of St Joseph’s High School in Manzini who met in 1998 and it is here where the concept of ministering in song was muted.
By 2001 when they left school, the group was clearly destined for the studio. And history they have attained by being the first group from people living with disabilities cadre, not to mention being visually impaired, to reach the recording studio. t should no doubt please the Catholic Church to realise that the visually impaired group is gaining popularity and would reach stardom sooner rather than later.
Calm, cool and collected are the group members in their daily chores and walk but give them the stage; they’ll ignite and inspire fanatics into action.
They have been denied and denounced in certain quarters but nevertheless remained determined, ridiculed but rose above such; yes, discouraged but diligently they persevered on their mission. Without a doubt, this is a group which has seen and gone through it all.
But their biggest break should no doubt be when they met Minister of Enterprise and Employment Lutfo Dlamini at Caritas, Manzini, a few years ago. A guest speaker at the people living with disabilities function, the minister was to assist the group record its second album ‘Delilah Mfati Wam’.
Their debut ‘Are You Ready’ had not made much of an impact and not many laid their hands on it.
Minister Lutfo’s intervention of E10 000 contribution at the EYA (Entrepreneur of the Year Awards), saw the group purchasing a keyboard and it was good-bye to the hiked fees paid by members as they hired the instrument.
With Christ Worshippers, seeing is believing and if you belonged to the list of doubting Thomases, you’ll be mesmerised were you to attend one of the many shows the group graces. They lighten up any dull occasion and bring widened smiles to the dejected.
Their rise to fame is no fluke or favouritism from some quarters but a journey of patience and persistence in anticipation of great things.
Some transport operators attempted to block their way by denying them right to board their buses despite that group members were prepared to pay. But patiently Minister Lutfo awaited them in Mbabane and arrive they did, huffing and puffing. In all, Christ Worshippers has 13 members.
Says group Spokesman Sikhumbuzo Khumalo: “We’ve been humbled by the reaction and appreciation from the masses. They are so receptive to our music that our phones just can’t stop ringing- requesting for copies of our CDs”.
But sabotage is at play in some quarters as seen with a majority of outlets that have refused to stock copies of the group’s music. Khumalo brushes such challenges aside, noting they will triumph over in any event.
He is full of accolades for Minister Lutfo’s morale support to the group and his welcoming attitude.
“Prior to the Caritas event, the minister had not known us but out of the blue he offered to assist us record our album and this humbled us. It was a consolation following the stormy situations were underwent”.
He prayed that the minister succeeds just another term as MP and be posted to the same ministry; Enterprise and Employment. The group’s latest offering Ngitincoba Ngemthandazo has proved the right tonic to take them to higher levels. The album kicks off with the ballad Bangcwele which is a call to righteous and reason. Get the feel of Track Two Hubelani Umsindisi, which is inspired by choral music intricacies.
It is the title track though (Track Four) that stands out in the album, traditionally inspired and spiced with cultural dances, making the group special and appealing to all sectors of society. A plus to the group is that the lyrics are in Siswati and this should please die-hard traditionalists like Jim ‘Mbhokane’ Gama as well as the ministry of education, these days promoting the mother tongue like never before. Then you could get lost in Siyayigandzaya and Sekuntambama.
With their stead and stature, the group is poised for bigger things in society.
Go on mesmerise ‘em; you’ve left your indelible marks in the sand of time already!
Rwanda: Women to Debut in Paralympics Games
The New Times (Kigali)
8 March 2008
Posted to the web 10 March 2008
Disabled ladies are preparing to compete in the first ever National Paralympics championship this weekend at the NPC gym at Amahoro Stadium.
"The role in the championship will encourage disabled ladies to stop shying away and join," said Marie-Claire Dinnar Iriza, Gender representative in the National Paralympics Committee, NPC.
Seatball and Seating Volleyball have been selected for this inaugural event. This year, six female and seven male teams will participate in the one-day event. According to the organizers, the championship will be played in four phases with the first phase starting today.
Iriza urged disabled women to put aside inferiority complexes, be active and realize their advantages in Paralympics games. According to Erie Manirarora, NPC technical director, the number of women actively engaged in Paralympics games is still very low.
"We need women in Paralympics games," Manirarora said, before adding that, "We are taking Seatball as the major sensitization tool this season."
The women will compete in just Seatball while the men will compete in both but Manirarora noted that, if all goes according to plan, the women are expected to play Seating Volley ball next year.
"Seating Volleyball is very technical and requires early age training especially for the women," he stated.
The Germany Embassy has donated uniforms, Seatball balls and Volleyball nets to female teams and Goalball balls to male teams.
This year's event has been boosted by the entrance of three new teams; Ubumwe of Rubavu, Gatagara from Rwamagana and Butare's Nyanza, with the major absentees being Imena and Musanze.
By press time, the National Paralympics Committee had yet to secure sponsorship but officials were locked in negotiations with several of their usual partners, among them is Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR), Handicap International, Volunteers Over Seas (VSO).
Uganda: HIV/Aids Prevalence Rates High Amongst PWDs
The Monitor (Kampala)
9 March 2008
Posted to the web 9 March 2008
Jane Nafula and Ephraim Kasozi
THE State Minister for the Elderly and Disability Affairs, Sulaiman Madada has called for a joint effort to fight the Aids scourge among people with disabilities.
Mr Madada said people with disabilities were silently but increasingly losing lives to Aids due to the false belief that they are sexually inactive.
Mr Madada was on Friday briefing journalists on the Second Meeting of the Africa Campaign on Disability and HIV/Aids to be held in Uganda at Hotel Africana on Wednesday.
The conference is organised by the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (Nudipu) in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender.
Uganda: Minister Madada Warns Employers
New Vision (Kampala)
9 March 2008
Posted to the web 10 March 2008
INSTITUTIONS have been asked to stop discriminating against people with disability when recruiting staff. The state minister for the elderly and people with disability, Suleiman Madada, said such acts were against the Constitution.
"The Government is watching institutions that discriminate PWDS. This practice is against the law and any person or institution that engages in it is liable to prosecution."
He added that according to the law, institutions should avail PWDs facilities like ramps to aid movement within the premises.
Madada, who was speaking on Thursday during the Butaleja district celebrations to mark the International Day for the Disabled, asked PWDS to report abuse cases to the Police.
The ceremony was held under the theme: "Implementation of the national legislation, a prerequisite for decent work for persons with disabilities".
Madada urged PWDS to form savings societies to enable them start income-generating projects. He handed over 21 goats, wheel chairs and clutches to the PWDS.
Minister without portfolio Dorothy Hyuha, warned local government officials against misallocating community-based rehabilitation funds meant to facilitate activities of the PWDS.
"Give Caesar what belongs to him. I want to see this money benefit people with disabilities" Hyuha said.
South Africa: Setas Urged to Assist Disabled People
9 March 2008
Posted to the web 10 March 2008
The Sector Education and Training Authorities (Setas) should develop a common vision around strategies aimed at assisting disabled people to access the highest skills empowerment opportunities, says Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana.
The minister was speaking on Friday at the launch of the Wholesale and Retail Seta project, which is sponsored by the Thabo Mbeki Disabled Trust (TMDT). The project is a special bridging learnership plan to help people with disabilities to study for up to the N4 level without obstacles that have been preventing them from advancing to such levels
Minister Mdladlana said the project was a perfect solution towards reversing the poor success rate of fulfilling the National Skills Development Strategy's objective, which requires 4 percent of the country's learnerships to be given to people with disabilities. He said the project should act as an encouragement for all Setas not to be afraid to try different strategies for the betterment of economic sustainability chances of people with disabilities.
"I am disappointed that even government has failed to achieve the 4 percent target. We cannot expect the private sector alone to fulfil this requirement.
"I also call on all Setas to develop a common vision around strategies aimed at assisting people with disabilities," he said, adding that Setas must work together to leverage the achievements of each other rather than always reinventing the wheel. Commending the Wholesale and Retail Seta on its initiative, the minister said: "It shows the kind of thought, leadership and vision that we expect from our SETAs as the custodians of skills development in our country."
While such interventions as the Sheltered Employment factories, sporadic bursaries and disabilities social grants have been taking the cause of empowering the disabled, obstacles that the new project would help remove had always been a barrier to desired results. The minister urged stakeholders to be sensitive when recruiting learners with disabilities into various programmes, particularly the type of assessment tools they use as in some instances they often acted as obstacles rather than enabling tools.
The TMDT is aimed at enhancing the quality of life of persons with disabilities and promoting their integration into mainstream society. Renamed after its current patron-in-chief in 1998, the TMDT was previously known as the Development Fund for Disabled People which caters for people of all diverse disabilities.
Nigeria: 'Blindness No Hinderance to My Legal Practice'
This Day (Lagos)
10 March 2008
Posted to the web 11 March 2008
In recent years blindness, particularly through preventable causes, seems to have taken on epidemic proportions in Nigeria. Majority of those who have fallen prey to this disability have taken to begging in our urban cities.
As the army of blind beggars increases, government and society seem indifferent to ameliorating their plight. One Nigerian sage once said that the Nigerian society itself is visually impaired. But for some, blindness is hardly an impediment and they have, by determination, risen above the disability. JUDE IGBANOI met with one of such last week. Matthew Olaiya studied in the United States, with a degree in History and a Juris Doctor. He practised law for 20 years there and specialised in Immigration Law. Now settled at home in Nigeria, he helps Nigerian migrants to migrate legally to the US and Canada by assisting in getting work and Work Permits. He is also a commodities trader
Some see you as a rare figure in a rather challenging profession. You are visually impaired and you are a lawyer. How have you been able to cope in active legal practice being visually impaired?
The fact that I got my training outside Nigeria really helped. Not only did I train in the United States of America, I also practised there for quite a while; that really helped. It helped to instill confidence in me and that also helped the public to have confidence in me. In the United States, it wasn't a barrier that I am visually impaired; I was able to practice without any problem.
Of course, there limitations and difficulties, but we dealt with those difficulties as they came up. Besides, the Bar there was very helpful. There was so much conviviality amongst members. I had very few problems with my colleagues in terms of my disability. They helped; if I needed extra time to have documents read in court it was not a problem, they understood.
How did you get blind?
I lost my sight when I was young. I started losing my sight at the age of four. By the time I was seven I had completely lost my sight. I was a victim of measles. I had measles, which primarily was the cause of my blindness.
Having lost your sight so early in life, how were you able to cope with education, especially in Nigeria?
I went to Pachelli School for the Blind in Surulere, Lagos. That was where I had my primary education. I then proceeded to the International School, Ibadan for my secondary education. It was after that I travelled to the United States for my undergraduate and law degrees.
What has been the attitude of your colleagues in court when you appear in cases against them?
I've no problems really with my sighted colleagues. We relate well. They respect my abilities irrespective of my visual disability. I have no problem with them.
What has been the attitude of your prospective clients? When clients come in and see that you are visually impaired does it affect their willingness to hire your services as a lawyer?
I have not had that experience either in the United States or in Nigeria. Those who would have had problems with me wouldn't come in the first place. I think most people may have known even before they come that I am blind and would also have been informed of my abilities.
But so far, nobody has come in here and after discussing with me decides that on the basis of my visual impairment that they are not interested in giving me a brief. I have never had such clients.
Have you ever won a case based on some kind of empathy from the judge or your opponents?
I have never experienced that. When I practised in the US, there may have been some consideration in terms of my condition. I would be given slightly longer time to make my submissions. That is so because over there, it is essentially the jury system. We have 12 members of a court that sit on a case and decide at the end of the case. A judge would only give a final decision.
In cases where we had to select members of the jury, because of my visual impairment some kind of accommodation had to be made. It might take me longer or I might need the help of another lawyer to help me in the process. For the most part, I wouldn't call that empathy. I would call it reasonable accommodation.
How do you prepare for your cases typically? As a lawyer you can't do without Law Reports. But in Nigeria we have not advanced to such a level where our Law Reports are in Braille. How are you able to cope?
It's not an issue of advancement. It's an issue of facilities available. So many judgments are delivered on a daily basis that Braille in a hard copy format would not be able to keep up with. But there is technology now, that what one has to do is get into it. I use a laptop; I have a scanner here in the office. They just assist and scan the law reports into my computer and I use my speech software to analyse and digest the cases.
In the United States it was even easier, because most of the law reports come in soft copies; I just download them from the internet to my computer. We'll get there too in Nigeria. But as a blind person, the computer really levels the playing field.
It's not every blind lawyer in Nigeria that has these kinds of facilities, like a laptop and speech reader. What would be your advice to such lawyers?
It depends on who it is that is hiring them. The way I look at it is that a computer is a necessary tool for a blind person. Having the law report in a format that is available to us is so critical otherwise a blind lawyer cannot effectively do his work. Your degree of preparedness depends on how many cases you are able to access through law reports. You can have someone read law reports to you, but how many can you do in such situations?
Things have changed. There are now little nuances that are peculiar to the profession, so the ability of a blind lawyer to have access to what case a sighted lawyer is citing is also very important. If a sighted lawyer cites a particular case that you as a blind lawyer don't have access to, it puts you at a disadvantage. But if you have it available on your laptop, it makes everything so easy.
One thing however is that computers are now very cheap. It's a matter of investing in your work tools. It's like having a car. A computer is completely indispensable to a blind lawyer. Even for a sighted lawyer, a computer is very necessary.
In the past few years in Nigeria justice sector reforms have taken centre stage; for most people this has become absolutely inevitable. If you were to proffer a solution what area would you say deserves urgent attention, having practised here for quite some time now?
First and foremost, I would say the support services. The burden on the Judge is incredible in Nigeria! It's too much! I can't understand how they do their jobs! The support services need to be increased considerably. A Judge should have a well stocked library; he should have clerks; he should have access to computerised legal data base. He should have at his disposal, law students or young lawyers to help him in his day to day work. Court reporters should be a matter of course.
The problem I have in Nigeria is whose rendition is considered as official record of a case. If you have a court reporter who is independent of the party, it would be different. Remember, the Judge is also a party to a case in some way. We shouldn't really have to rely on the Judge's own notes to determine what was actually agreed by the parties; there should be an independent reporter. A fly on the wall, so to speak who should be able to take down everything, and then everybody can rely on it.
So, court report services should be more robust. It shouldn't just be in the High Court. It should also be in the Magistrate Courts. In an adversarial system, which is what we have, there has to be someone who is not directly in the process, who can sit down and take down full unedited notes that we all can agree is a full and complete record of the hearing. We have to get into that. If we have that kind of support system it will go a long way.
Again, the filing system leaves a lot to be desired. We need to something about that.
There also ought to be rules of court on adjournments. How many times can you adjourn? For what reason can you adjourn? Cases should not go on indefinitely! It's ridiculous! It creates a lack of confidence in the system when you have cases going on for so long. Of course there are times when adjournments are necessary, but at the beginning of a case we all could have a meeting where we can all agree how long the case will last.
To me, the procedure and support system are critical. If we can take care of those, we'll be solving 50% of the problems.
Apparently the Nigerian society, especially those in authority don't seem to have much concern for those that are visually impaired. To that extent, we don't have special facilities at public places and our transport system does not provide for such. How have you been able to cope, getting around from home to office and to court, given the rather chaotic transport system in Lagos?
It's been very difficult. It's not really so much that one is disabled. Whether you are disabled or able, the government has really dropped the ball as far as making things work, as far as providing infrastructure is concerned. I don't see how we can have a government at over forty years into our existence as a country and the public transport system the way it is. It is really unfortunate! It's not only the disabled that are affected. The man hours wasted in traffic jams, how many people we lose in road accidents, its unimaginable! You talk of not only the traffic system, you talk about other infrastructure. On the whole of Igbosere Street, there is no side walk. You have okada riding in the opposite direction; no one cares! Right in front of the High Court, they move with impunity. Unfortunately, in Nigeria lawlessness is the order of the day. For me as a blind person, it's a nightmare! But what do you do? So, most times when I walk I have to be with somebody. When I was in the United States, the infrastructure was there. There are sidewalks. Even where there are no sidewalks, cars wouldn't come where pedestrians walk. You felt safe. I didn't need as much help from the public as I have to rely on here. Its unfortunate and I think a lot needs to be done.
You had most of your tertiary education abroad?
All of it.
Your first degree in History and subsequently your law degree?
Having studied and practised law in the United States for 20 years, how did you arrive at the decision to come back home when you were fully aware that our system here hardly works? Lack of facilities, delays in our justice administration and so many other problems. What motivated you to make that move to come back home?
I would have come eventually. But I came sooner because of family exigencies. My mother died during the MKO Abiola riots, when the late Moshood Abiola was killed. So, I came back being the first son and I had to quickly start thinking about what to do. My mum left quite a number of properties that needed to be taken care of. Eventually I tried to rum my law practice from Nigeria by going back and forth. I would spend some time here and go back. But it became difficult. At that time communication technology was very poor. It was not as easy as it is right now to make calls to the US. NITEL was the only service we had at the time.
Isn't there any forum or association of visually impaired lawyers? Is there no platform that acts as some kind of support group for blind lawyers?
Unfortunately, there is none for now.
I know quiet a number of blind lawyers and some of them were in my set in Law School. One wonders why you don't have an umbrella body to articulate your peculiar needs before government.
That is something that we are definitely working on. Very soon that will become a reality. But again visually impaired lawyers are also working within other disabled people's organisations. I agree with you that we as blind lawyers actually deserve to have such a body. It's a good idea and we have been trying to bring this into existence. I will ensure that this is done along with others.
Today we still have so many blind young persons in the society. I know the Pachelli School for the Blind is still there, but have you been able to mentor anyone of them out there? Yours is a success story, but over 70% of visually impaired people still end up in the streets begging. What have you been able to do?
Never enough, but I just keep trying. I do mostly direct mentoring for blind individuals. I talk with them; I give them advice, business ideas and tips on how to move forward. But it's never enough and I'll continue to do my best in this regard. When I encounter a blind person who is doing something or rendering a service that I can benefit from, I usually patronise them.
The whole issue of begging is really an issue of not having alternatives. What if you went to school or a vocational training center and you don't get employed at the end? Those are the challenges. It's getting the food on the table that is making people to beg. If we can ensure that those that have acquired skills would be patronised or employed, it would go a long way to solving those problems. It will help reduce the dependence on begging.
I don't feel comfortable asking people to stop begging when there are no alternatives. It's a struggle. If a blind person wants to start a business, how does he go about it? Because if sighted persons have problems getting loans from the banks, you can imagine what it is like for a blind person. Begging is the area that society has left for the disabled. It's like, 'Its okay, we can see them begging, but we can't seeing them working.' This is too bad!
Eritrea: Inhabitants of Agordat Sub-Zone Extend Assistance to Eritrean National War-Disabled Veterans Association
11 March 2008
Posted to the web 11 March 2008
Inhabitants of 15 administrative areas of Agordat sub-zone contributed over 126,000 Nakfa and 78 cattle to the Eritrean National War-Disabled Veterans Association (ENWVA).
The Administrator of the sub-zone, Mr. Kahsai Asrat, noted that the Eritrean people have managed to overcome challenges without any division on the basis of religion and ethnicity, and that the assistance extended to the war-disabled citizens attests to this fact.
The Chairman of the ENWVA, Mr. Gereberhan Eyasu, pointed out that the Association, in collaboration with the Government and nationals inside the country and abroad, is making relentless efforts to enable its members become self-supporting and productive. Indicating that war-disabled citizens are showing positive changes as regards improvement in their standard of living, he called on all nationals to emulate the initiative taken by the inhabitants of Agordat sub-zone.
Visually impaired slam educationgovt on special needs
BY YAMIKANI SIMUTOWE
09:09:30 - 11 March 2008
Malawi Union of the Blind (MUB), a body that fights for rights of people with visual impairment, has criticised government for perceiving education of the people with special needs and visual impaired and partially sighted as ‘charity’ not a right.
MUB Executive Director Ezekiel Kumwenda said this on Wednesday in Blantyre at press briefing whose aim was to brief the media on the developmental activities the union is carrying out across the country.
“The government always parries our concerns to the NGO’s to provide brail learning materials. That is why we are saying that government takes our education as a charity. Government should have been in the forefront circulating brail textbooks and teachers scheme.
“Most of the students with visual impairment are not doing well in secondary and tertiary education because there are no brail textbooks in schools,” Kumwenda said.
He said women with visual impairment and those partially sighted should also be considered in decision making positions.
Kumwenda further said that trained peer educators and teachers are failing to carry out their duties effectively due to shortage of materials.
“How do you expect teachers and peer educators that we have just trained to carry out HIV/AIDS message to others without brail tracts?
“Why they don’t enjoy the universal right to education? We are capable of doing anything just like any other person but we are looked down upon,” he queried.
Kumwenda also observed that people have wrong information and consider blindness as a misery.
Programme Director for Norwegian Union of the Blind (Africa) Augustine Sambola said the union should be fully supported to ably advocate for the rights and needs of the people.
Sambola said they would continue supporting people in the country in organisation strengthening and rehabilitation, eye health care and ‘Help to Self Help’ programmes and to empower the youth and women in income generating activities.
Airport staff humiliate disabled
March 12, 2008 Edition 2
LATOYA NEWMAN AND SAPA
Disabled passengers, on their way to a conference on the disabled, have been forced to crawl out of an aircraft at OR Tambo International Airport.
On Sunday, the group were flying to Durban from Upington and Kimberley when ground crew refused to transport them from their aircraft to the terminal.
Dorothy-Ann Howitson, a delegate and member of the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities, said five delegates suffered "a great deal of abuse".
"We arrived at OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday. We were to catch a connecting flight to Durban. The problem came when we needed to get off those flights and make our way to our connecting flight. The passenger aid unit did not have the proper equipment … At one point the driver drove up to us, looked at us and just drove off. It was degrading and inhumane," she said.
Monica Gerhard, who has no arms or legs, said she had to be carried off the first plane.
A third delegate, Petra Burger, had to crawl out of the first plane on her bottom. "I was very humiliated," she said.
Acsa to improve service to disabled passengers
March 12, 2008, 08:15
The aviation industry in South Africa has agreed on a number of immediate steps to address the issue of accessibility in airports for the disabled. This follows the claim made by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) yesterday that SAA was blatantly discriminating against people with disabilities.
Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) communications manager, Solomon Makgale, says they were not really aware of the deterioration in the service provided to disabled people. "We have now entered into an agreement with two other companies to assist us in improving our service," says Makgale.
He says Acsa will issue an apology to the disabled community and has assured disabled passengers of an improved service.
SAHRC commission spokesperson, Simmi Pillay, said the body received a number of complaints from SAA customers who said their rights to dignity and equality had been violated in the past month. The SAHRC stated that some of these customers had been turned away completely or advised to use other carriers.
The commission says that the national carrier was aware of the termination of the previous contract of the service providers and should have made adequate plans to manage the transition.
Namibia: Namibia's Super-Centenarian Alive And Well
New Era (Windhoek)
28 March 2008
Posted to the web 28 March 2008
In the absence of a proven scientific method to pin-point the actual year she was born and the lack of accurate birth records her exact age will never be known, though villagers swear her birth predates by far the arrival of colonialists.
Mpyu village's eldest resident is frail and vulnerable-looking Elizabeth Namasiku Numwa, a super-centenarian who elderly villagers that are still alive and those who died a long time ago believe/d this woman's birth predates by far the arrival of German imperialists who initially set foot in Caprivi in 1901 and established a military/police outpost at Schuckmannsburg in flood-prone Ikaba.
Mpyu village headman, sixty-nine-year-old Bornventure Samuel Mulongwe, a great, great grand nephew of this super-centenarian recently told New Era that his great, great aunt is without a shred of doubt the oldest living being in Namibia, because by the time German colonialists arrived in Caprivi, Mulongwe was told by his late parents that Numwa was already a grown-up easily placing her date of birth in eighteen-hundred-and-something.
Fine wrinkles crease her face and she is hard of hearing and while she lost use of both eyes in 2002, this super-centenarian appears to have aged gracefully though she now needs to be nursed around-the-clock and she cannot walk unaided. She moves around by groping and she was permanently retired from planting, cooking, fetching water and firewood some 22 years ago by her great, great nephew whose now looks after this woman who possibly holds a global longevity record. Ma Numwa whom villagers at Mpyu in Caprivi in Katima Rural are adamant is possibly Namibia's oldest, if not the world's oldest living being, looks very old. And most interestingly, despite the opportunistic infections that come with old age Mulongwe says, "she has never been admitted to hospital".
Because she now only has a few teeth villagers normally feed her white bread, usually soaked either in tea or in her favorite fizzy guava juice, and at times she is given meat that is pounded and thoroughly cooked, but de-boned fresh water fish is also her favourite. When maize is in season villagers also pick and prepare baby corn for her. Fried cookies are her other favourite meal and she ensures the people looking after her buy her some of her favourite food when they receive the N$370 pension on her behalf. Another interesting trait of this elderly citizen is that she rarely gets angry and due to this advanced age her memory fails her frequently as she cannot easily remember names, though her memory is relatively intact when it comes to the arrival of the Germans.
Her great, great grandnephew says he is blessed to look after her though caring for such an elderly woman requires a lot of patience, as she has to be washed just like a baby.
Though elderly Ma Numwa is not finicky about the food she eats she does not like cats, and she likes her hut to be kept spotless and if it is dirty that is when she becomes vocal.
2008年3月29日（土）13:00 〜 17:15 12:30から受付開始
開催場所：戸山サンライズ2階大研修室Ａ 03-3204-3611 (http://www.jsrpd.jp)
13:10-13:50 講演１ 講師：岡本眞理子 日本福祉大学大学院教授
13:50-15:00 講演２ 講師：Mr. Johnny Lantion, Manager, National Federation of Cooperatives of Persons With Disability (NFCPWD), Philippines
15:15-15:55 講演３ 講師：杉岡直人 北星学園大学教授
■橋63・山手線 新大久保駅 ⇒ 新橋駅行
■橋63・中央線 大久保駅 ⇒ 新橋駅行
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TEL：03-5292-7628 FAX：03-5292-7630 http://www.normanet.ne.jp/~jannet/
NFCPWD, These Disabled, NFCPWD, 2005
Angola: Adapted Sport - Team Debuts in African Football Cup for Disabled
Angola Press Agency (Luanda)
31 March 2008
Posted to the web 31 March 2008
Angolan national soccer team for disabled will play this Monday against Sierra Leone, in a match that counts for the second around of the African Disabled People Cup that started on Sunday in Liberia.
The national team that participates for the first time in a competition of the kind, is mostly integrated by athletes from Moxico province. For the same round, Nigeria will play Liberia.
During the first round, played on Sunday, the Nigerian team won Ghana for not being present. Until this morning the Ghanaian team has not arrived to Liberia yet. The competition is disputed in a system of all against all in two rounds.
South Africa: Court Ordered to Pay Out Disability Grant and Costs
Business Day (Johannesburg)
31 March 2008
Posted to the web 31 March 2008
THE Constitutional Court last week ordered the Eastern Cape welfare MEC to pay a disabled woman whose disability grant was terminated without notice for a period of three years.
The court also ordered the department to pay the costs of Deliwe Njongi in the high court, the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court, on the scale as between attorney and client.
This means the department will pay all costs that Njongi incurred in the trial, including the costs of senior counsel who argued her case.
When the court heard the case in November, it questioned why government had to spend millions of rand of taxpayers' money opposing a claim of R5800 which one judge said was indefensible.
Njongi applied for and was granted a disability grant in 1989 and received payments for the next eight years. However, the payments stopped in 1997 without notice or any explanation. When she enquired about her grant, she was informed she should reapply.
Her grant was reinstated in July 2000. She also received R1100 which she was told was "back pay". Her attorneys calculated that the amount she should have received was a further R15200. The department also paid out R9400 in March 2005 after Njongi instituted proceedings in the Port Elizabeth High Court. The amount still owing was R5800.
The high court ordered the department to pay her R5800. The department successfully appealed to the full bench of the Grahamstown High Court which said her monetary claim had prescribed and become unenforceable. The Supreme Court of Appeal refused her application for leave to appeal.
In a unanimous judgment, constitutional Judge Zac Yacoob also ordered the MEC to pay Njongi R5800 and to pay her interest calculated at the rate of 15,5% a year on the amount of each separate monthly unpaid grant for the months of November 1997 to July 2000, the amount of R15200 from July 1 2000 to March 10 2005 and the amount of R5800 from March 10 2005 to the date of payment.
Yacoob said there were a number of judgments in relation to the provincial government's conduct on the reinstatement of grants and said these judgments were not meant simply to be filed away without being read.
South Africa: Constitutional Court Scolds Eastern Cape
Business Day (Johannesburg)
31 March 2008
Posted to the web 31 March 2008
THE Eastern Cape government should read and not simply file court judgments regarding its conduct, the Constitutional Court said on Friday.
The province is renowned for poor administration.
The court ordered the Eastern Cape social development MEC to pay Deliwe Njongi, whose disability grant was stopped without notice for three years, her grant, interest on the grant and her legal costs.
When the court heard the case in November, it questioned why the Eastern Cape government had felt it necessary to spend millions of taxpayers' money opposing a claim of R5800, which one judge said was indefensible.
In a judgment by Judge Zak Yacoob, Njongi was described as one of "literally" tens of thousands of people unlawfully denied their disability payments.
There were judgments relating to the province's conduct on the reinstatement of grants and these judgments were not meant simply to be filed away without being read, Yacoob said.
"They contain important information that has a bearing on the conduct of the provincial government . It is probable that the legal advisers to the provincial government did not read the various judgments which are referred to ... with sufficient care."
The department has to pay the costs of Njongi's high court and full bench applications, her costs for an application to the Supreme Court of Appeal, and Constitutional Court application, including the costs of senior counsel who argued her case.
Njongi was granted a disability grant in 1989 and received payments for the next eight years, but the payments stopped in 1997 without notice or any explanation.
When Njongi asked about her grant, she was told to reapply and her grant was reinstated in July 2000. She also received R1100, which she was told was "back pay".
Her attorneys calculated the amount she should have received was a further R15200. The department paid R9400 in March 2005 after Njongi instituted proceedings in the Port Elizabeth High Court.
Yacoob said he had doubts whether prescription could legitimately arise when the debt claimed was a social grant, which the government was obliged to pay in terms of the constitution.
The government's failure to pay up represented conduct that was inconsistent with the constitution.