Clerics put on defence for ‘cheating’ disabled
Posted on January 5, 2013
By Website Editor
TWO United Church of Zambia (UCZ) clergymen have been found with a case to answer and put on their defence by a Kasama magistrate’s court for theft of K183 million by pecuniary advantage.
The K183 million belonged to a group of individuals living with disabilities in Kasama.
Kasama Principal Magistrate Obster Musukwa found Reverend David Miyambo and his co-accused Elder Hartley Mulowezi of St Paul’s Congregation with a case to answer after divisional prosecutor Eric Sindandumuna closed the case.
Facts before the court are that on dates unknown but during the 2010-2011 farming season, Miyambo and Mulowezi collected the money with a promise that they would supply farming inputs to people living with disabilities in Kasama.
The duo while acting together purported to be agents of the Disabled Multi-purpose Association of Zambia which supplies farming inputs to people living with disabilities.
The two clerics , however, failed to begin their defence yesterday as Miyambo was reported to be ill.
During trial, the courtroom was packed with the victims who are demanding for justice to prevail.
Mr Musukwa adjourned the matter to January 10, 2013.
‘Children with disability need support’
January 5, 2013 in General, National, News
ZIMBABWE’S incumbent Child president Tatenda Christian Rusere has challenged the coperate world as we have just entered 2013 to spare a thought for children living with disabilities.
Report by Winstone Antonio
In an interview with NewsDay Teens, Rusere said children living with disabilities need support and acceptance by society at large for their survival.
“I had opportunities of visiting and working with children from different backgrounds and I have come to understand that children living with disabilities need support and acceptance by the society for their survival.”
“As a result, I therefore urge the coperate world and parents with children living with disability not to abandon them but instead give them moral support for them to pursue careers in life,” said Tatenda.
“Children who live with disabilities have different skills, talents and capacities which we only get to know when we listen to them more carefully and take an active interest in their lives,” he added.
Analysing the situation for children living with disability in the country, it can be noted that it is extremely dire as there is a double -edged problem.
Some of their problems are associated with age which makes it difficult for them to be heard.
Research has shown that the fate of children with disabilities is almost the same all over the world. It ranges from exclusion education, employment, cultural activities, festivals, sports and social events to physical and sexual violence, lack of access to healthcare, emotional abuse and neglect.
Sadly, in some societies, these innocent children are even viewed as curses and signs of things gone wrong in a family.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that only 33%of children with disabilities in Zimbabwe have access to education, compared to over 90% for the able-bodied populace.
The fight for children with disabilities has mainly been a preserve of the civic society with minimal support from the government.
However, research, papers, concepts and symposia have been held on the topic of children living with disabilities but little has been done in the form of tangible action and implementation of directly beneficial programmes for these children.
When I attended the commemorations of the International Day of African Child gathering at Unicerf’s House in Harare early last year which was held under the theme, “The Rights of Children with Disabilities: The Duty to Protect, Respect, Promote and Fulfil” I had the opportunity to chat with these teens and I came to appreciate some of the untapped talent among these children.
They are skilful and have the talent that some of them can make baskets using their legs an indication that shows they are capable of doing some of the things that can be done with the able bodied.
The International Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
The day honours those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 when thousands of black school children took to the streets of Soweto, South Africa in a march more than half a mile long, they protested against the inferior quality of their education and demanded their right to be taught in their own language.
During the march, hundreds of young boys and girls were shot dead by security force.
The disabled and sexual abuse
2013/01/07 | SALLY NYAKANYANGA | 12 COMMENTS
The plight of disabled women who are sexually abused has been exacerbated by a lack of support structures
GREATER RISK: Persons with disabilities are more vulnerable to sex pests.
Photo: Kevin Sutherland
Rise in sexual assaults a cause for concern
HARARE - The sight of a pastor is usually a relief to vulnerable people such as orphans and those with disabilities. There is little or no suspicion that men of the cloth will prey on those who have invested their trust in them.
But this is exactly what happened to Chengetai Mutasa*. The wheelchair-bound 25-year-old woman was raped by Pastor Musindo* in September last year.
On that fateful day the pastor asked Mutasa to accompany him to a nearby business centre in rural Chihota, about 80km from Harare. On the way he raped her.
Mutasa told her family, who decided on an out-of-court and traditional settlement . The pastor did not abide by the agreement, so Mutasa's family reported the matter to the police.
The pastor disappeared and is still on the run. Investigations have yet to be concluded.
Mutasa's case is similar to what many women with disabilities face in southern Africa. The plight of disabled women who are sexually abused has been exacerbated by a lack of support structures and of information on how they can protect themselves.
In many southern African countries people with disabilities are denied justice due to a lack of resources in court, such as augmentative and alternative communication for women who cannot comprehend spoken or written language.
Superintendent Andrew Phiri of the Zimbabwe Republic Police says that there are no statistics on cases of sexual abuse of disabled women. Most cases are not reported, he says.
"We receive a few cases of women with disabilities being sexually abused through our victim friendly unit, which caters mostly for vulnerable people, among them the disabled," Phiri says..
"In cases in which we deal with people with special needs we provide services as is needed - for instance hiring interpreters for those with hearing and speech impairments."
Phiri notes that victims might not be aware that they can report cases of abuse.
In most cases the perpetrators are known to the victims. Care providers often seek to quickly benefit from such situations. So families choose to settle cases at family or village level to avoid police intervention.
Families will only seek police help when the perpetrator has failed to "pay" for the abuse.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2011 report, more than a billion people (15%) of the world's population has some form of disability. It further highlights the fact that rates of disability are increasing due to population ageing and increases in chronic health conditions, among other causes.
People with disabilities are at high risk of abuse due to stigma, discrimination as well as a lack of social support for those who care for them.
People with communication impairment are at greater risk because they might not be able to disclose abuse.
"The Scoping Study: Disability Issues in Zimbabwe 2007" report states that the sexuality of people with disabilities has been poorly understood and often not recognised or discussed by society and family members. Women with disabilities are therefore not commonly regarded as being at risk of or vulnerable to HIV.
But the study further notes that extreme poverty and social sanctions against marrying a person with a disability mean they are more likely to become involved in unstable relationships than able-bodied people.
The Zimbabwe Agenda for Accelerated Country Action for women, girls, gender equality and HIV), 2011-2015 report showed an increased vulnerability of disabled women to sexual abuse.
In April 2011 in South Africa four out of seven teenagers were arrested for the rape of a 17-year-old mentally challenged girl and released on R500 bail each. The Dobsonville, Soweto, girl's ordeal came to light after a video of the crime went viral.
Article 9 of the Southern Africa Development Community Gender Protocol proposes that state parties should adopt legislation and related measures to protect persons with disabilities, taking into account their particular vulnerabilities.
Article 20 also stipulates that state parties must establish special counselling services, legal and police units to provide dedicated and sensitive services to survivors.
Zimbabwe Women with Disabilities in development director Anne Malinga says they are working towards zero tolerance on sexual abuse and advises women with disabilities to know their rights and report the incidents to the police.
*Not their real names.
- Nyakanyanga is a freelance journalist based in Zimbabwe
Hiding a child with disability is a crime
2013-01-09 06:57:28.0 | SIBONGILE MASHABA
"It is estimated that there are about 20000 children with special needs who are not attending school," education department spokesman Jasper Zwane said.
THERE are only 18 schools for children with "severe" special needs in Mpumalanga.
It is estimated that there are about 130000 people with disabilities in the province, President Jacob Zuma said last month.
According to the province's education department, at least 3700 children with disabilities go to these special schools.
But they estimate there are thousand of children with special needs who do not attend school.
"It is estimated that there are about 20000 children with special needs who are not attending school," education department spokesman Jasper Zwane said.
"Children with disabilities should go to school. It is a norm for families to hide children with disabilities and it is wrong. It is a criminal offence and parents caught doing that will be charged ."
DA education spokesman in the province, James Masango, said in the past three years, "the department's annual reports show an alarming increase in pupils who require special needs schooling but whom the department has failed to help".
Masango said there were 594 children in 2009/10 and the number increased to 12135 in 2011/12.
"Despite being given equality under law by the constitution, people living with disabilities do not enjoy the same equal opportunities as their able-bodied counterparts in the workplace and in everyday life,"
Computers for visually impaired
09 Jan 2013 - Story by Alvine Kapitako
Article Views (non-unique): 372
WINDHOEK - The Namibia Federation of the Visually Impaired (NFVI) will this year introduce a computer literacy course for visually impaired people.
Introducing the visually impaired to computers is done through voice- over or talking software installed on computers and during lessons the students use headphones to avoid disturbances. The software, called non- visual desktop access, read out the words and instructions to users. The course will commence in February. The NFVI is a non-governmental organisation that promotes the wellbeing of visually impaired and partially sighted people by amongst others rehabilitating them. It provides various training programmes for the visually impaired.
The National Coordinator at the NFVI, Daniel Trum yesterday said the organisation, has for a long time thought of introducing a computer course for visually impaired people. Trum had earlier expressed concern that visually impaired people are excluded from the current developments in the country.
“Everything is far from us, nothing is user friendly,” Trum said in a previous interview. However, yesterday Trum was delighted with the donation of about N$40 000 from Namibia Customs Smelter, which will enable the the organisation to purchase seven computers and one printer.
Trum explained that only twelve students have been admitted for the computer literacy course. Students will be divided in groups to ensure that each one of them has a chance to use a computer.
“I feel very proud that the course was introduced. Visually impaired people lag behind when it comes to computer skills. I hope my colleagues will in future be empowered to use computers,” said Tjijangalala Manasse, a Braille instructor at the NFVI.
First National Disabled soccer kicks-off in April
As football maintains its position as the most popular sporting discipline in the world, Disabled International Foundation -Sierra Leone(DIFSIL) and Greatest Goal Ministries (GGM) will, this year, organize the first-ever disabled national football competition in the country in April.
Media Consultant for the first disabled football competition Maddieu Kabbah, said that it is a great venture undertaken by DIFSIL and GGM to come together and think of bringing the disabled around the country, adding that the activity will help them feel that they belong in the society.
He said after the brutal war in the country, there are lots of amputee’s with no hope, but with the talent of playing football and based on that background and passion, the two organizations came together as a way of contributing and promoting their talents.
“To be part of the great tournament has always been my dream, as my own contribution in helping the less fortunate and we are also using the tournament to identify talents for the next Para Olympic Games in Brazil and the Commonwealth Games” he noted.
Because of this, Kabbah said the Organizing Committee for the Disabled national football competition has made provisions for the various teams to invite at least 12 players as a way of displaying their talents.
According to him, it is time the disabled guys start realizing that the nation is looking up to them. “They must go all out to make this tournament a success”.
He said for the past years, a lot of people are coming to take their photos in the name of helping the disabled and at the end of the day, nothing comes out of it. So,they are tired of this and this time around, as media consultant, they will ensure that they realize something out of the competition.
He said with the competition, there is going to be development in terms of disabled soccer sports within the country’s communities.
Anas Aremeyaw Anas investigates ritual killing of disabled Ghanaian children deemed to be possessed by evil spirits今年1月9日、ガーナの新聞社のウェブサイト（と多分紙面でも）で報じられた
Anas Aremeyaw Anas investigates ritual killing of disabled Ghanaian children deemed to be possessed by evil spirits
Every year an unknown number of children - most of them disabled in some way - are murdered in northern Ghana because of the belief that they arein some way possessed by evil spirits set on bringing ill fortune to those around them.
The practice is the consequence of ancient traditions and customs and is shaped by poverty and ignorance in remote and often marginalised communities. But it is still infanticide and no less horrifying than thekilling of children anywhere. For years NGOs and the Ghanaian authorities have tried advocacy and education in an attempt to eradicate the practice but with only marginal success. Well into the 21st century, Ghana's so-called spirit children are still being killed because they carry the blame for the misfortunes of everyday life.
Award-winning Ghanaian investigative reporter Anas Aremeyaw Anas is determined to do something to stop this senseless slaughter. In this shocking and remarkable film for People & Power he sets out to track down and identify some of those responsible and to bring them to justice. Filmmaker's view
By Anas Aremeyaw Anas
Thousands of children have been killed in Ghana because the communities they are born into believe they are evil spirits. When I first heard about this I could not believe it was happening in my country in the 21st century.
The practice originally emerged as a way for poor families to deal with deformed or disabled children that they cannot look after. These families approach village elders known as concoction men and inform them that they suspect their child to be a so-called spirit child. The concoction man then takes the father of the child to visit a soothsayer who confirms whether or not the child is truly evil, without ever actually laying eyes on them.
Once this confirmation has been received, the concoction man brews a poisonous liquid from local roots and herbs and force-feeds it to the child, almost always resulting in death.
Over time, this practice has become a perceived solution to any problems a family might be having at the time of a child's birth. By blaming the child for sickness in the family, or the father's inability to find work or provide money to support his dependents, these communities have found an otherworldly explanation for their problems.
In this highly patriarchal society it enables heads of family to pass the blame for their struggles onto someone else. And by branding the child a spirit from outside the family, they can disassociate themselves and feel justified in murdering their own offspring, while telling those around them that now all will be well - the evil presence is gone.
But infanticide has always been a crime against humanity. I believe there is plenty of evidence of infanticide in the history of all human societies and its continued and widespread practice makes a mockery of the democratic credentials of the countries, including mine, where this crime still takes place. Many forms of civic engagement and advocacy have been used in a bid to eradicate this practice in Ghana and other West African nations. Sadly though, the limited efficacy of such techniques is illustrated by the fact that today children are still being killed in this way.
Ready to spill blood in the name of tradition
And sometimes a strong focus on understanding and education when dealing with traditional practices can distance us from the reality of a situation; it can place us in an ivory tower where we fail to engage with the true manner in which those involved are behaving. Far from acting like a man fulfilling a sad but necessary duty, the concoction man I hired to kill my fictitious child for the purposes of this film was excited; his eyes pinned wide with zeal as he went about preparing for the task at hand.
He laughed and joked about his previous experience, telling me about how he had recently killed a 12-year-old girl by tricking her into drinking his concoction and boasting about how effective his methods are. Without knowing the context, any casual observer would surely consider his disposition nothing short of murderous.
While I understand that he was misguided - ready to spill innocent blood in the name of tradition - I also strongly believe that, no matter what the circumstances, where children are being murdered the state must step in to punish those responsible in the same way that the citizens of any developed democracy would expect it to.
That is not to say that some understanding cannot be afforded to the concoction men and the communities that continue to practice these rituals. Unlike those with the benefit of technology who can see a badly developed fetus and terminate it before birth, the mothers whose babies are killed in northern Ghana have no such options.
They may find themselves giving birth to a child only to discover that it is not normal: it will never be accepted and will always be a burden on those around it. In the absence of technology or a refuge for mother and child to escape to, the concoction man is the only solution. As a result, the parents perceive him as a saviour; the only one who can deliver them from enduring further hardship. And the concoction men in turn thrive on the standing and power this affords them in the community.
When we think of slavery or the burning of alleged witches, these crimes against humanity were only eradicated when key actors in government decided to take a stand. By declaring these practices as unacceptable and threatening those who continue to perpetrate them with prosecution, governments have brought about the abolition of centuries-old traditions in a relatively short space of time.
Permitting evil to triumph over good
>From northern Ghana, where the spirit child story is set, through Burkina Faso, Benin and parts of Nigeria, countless babies are killed based on age-old cultural beliefs. But despite this, we were unable to find any evidence of previous arrests for these crimes.
During the three weeks that I worked on this story, I came across 10 men who were willing to kill a baby for spiritual reasons. They were easy to find. Yet when I asked a senior police officer why no arrests have been made, his response was: "It is a very difficult thing to do. It's unfortunate, we have no idea why this is happening, who is behind this and why they have not been arrested."
My intention is not to suggest that one investigation or police arrest can stop this trend. But in many ways, the practice's continued existence is a result of the impunity enjoyed by those involved. The fact that the police have never acted in any way to prevent these children being killed is surely a strong incentive for the concoction men to continue their business as usual. Invariably, this type of laisser-faire attitude is what permits evil to triumph over good.
Democracy has no value if it is only limited to occasional ceremonies for power holders. It is worthless if the voiceless are crushed and the perpetrators of atrocities are allowed to continue living their life without suffering any consequences. It certainly cannot exist where freedom and justice, selectively applied, mean that children are killed with impunity.
Kenya: Rongo School Hit
By Water Shortage
BY MANUEL ODENY, 10 JANUARY 2013
AN acute water shortage has hit Kuja Special School for the Deaf in Rongo town due to vandalism of a 20,000-litre water tank. The school that hosts about 400 pupils has experienced the shortage since the school re-opened for this term.
The principal Jemimah Were says pupils have been experiencing lack of water for cleaning purposes. "We have little water that will not be enough for students, forcing us to send the hearing impaired pupils to fetch water from a stream across the road," she said.
She said the move was risky for the learners who risk being knocked down by speeding motorbikes and vehicles as they crossed the busy tarmac road.
"I call on well-wishers to help in the installation of a new tank before we run out of stock," she said.
Uganda: Disability Laws - Speaker Needs to Keep Her Promise?
BY JOSEPH MALINGA, 10 JANUARY 2013
The year 2013 has come and, as usual, many people have set targets of what they want to achieve during this new year.
For institutions, usually (though not always) their targets reflect aspirations of the people they serve, aiming to complete any unfinished business from the previous year, as well as setting new ones for the new year.
In 2012, the disability movement was blessed to receive several promises from the government, including a pledge by the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, to expedite the process of passing disability- friendly legislation.
One element of such a legal framework could be a law that provides for affirmative action in regard to the employment of persons with disabilities (PWDs). The need for this action is inspired by the notion that the government seems to have abdicated its responsibility of finding jobs for PWDs as it is the case with the rest of the citizens.
The speaker is one of the proponents of this idea, and she pledged to support the disability fraternity in ensuring that such a law is in place.
The Speaker's comments follow a petition presented to her by the disability movement during a luncheon organised at the Kampala Serena hotel on December 3, 2012 to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In the petition, the disability fraternity in Uganda want government to enact laws that will compel government institutions to employ them under the principles of affirmative action espoused in the 1995 Constitution.
To the disability movement, the absence of deliberate efforts by government to find jobs for persons with disabilities is tantamount to violation of the rights of PWDs to employment opportunities in the public sector. The existing laws simply urge the private sector to employ more PWDs. For instance, the Income Tax Act provides for 2% tax exemption for any private employer who employs ten or more PWDs.
In essence, the government is providing an incentive to the private sector while it is silent about itself and its role in the public sector.
This has had various challenges regarding access to employment by PWDs by government at national and local levels. Government jobs adverts attest to the reluctance to employ PWDs and reflect disability insensitivity, because they lack statements such as "Qualified PWDs are encouraged to apply" and instead promote sentiments such as "previous work experience and ability to drive," so to say--qualities most PWDs do not have.
The foregoing does not promote employment opportunities for PWDs and is indicative of persistent negative attitudes towards persons with disabilities-- that they can't work for themselves. In her response, Speaker Kadaga expressed the same concerns and pledged to support all disability-related bills in Parliament (such as the Persons with Disabilities Amendment Bill, the Building Control Bill, the Special Needs and Inclusive Education Policy 2011, the National Policy on Disability 2006 and National Council for Disability Amendment Bill 2010).
The move is intended to ensure a level ground for PWDs to realise equal opportunities. This decision has since excited PWDs who now seem to have a glimpse of a future. Many PWDs believe that affirmative action is the way to go, since the majority of PWDs (educated and skilled) can't compete favourably for jobs. Its absence only serves to perpetuate intolerable levels of unemployment among this section of the population.
This is exacerbated by high dropout and low completion rates of learners with disabilities within the education sector. Even then, persons with disabilities with knowledge and skills still find accessing gainful employment quite difficult. As Parliament reconvenes from the Christmas recess, to conduct this year's business, we wish to reiterate the speaker's noble pledge to the disability movement.
Although laws in themselves are not a panacea to the problems and challenges faced by the disability movement, they at least do provide a sound starting point towards finding a solution.
The author is a Communications Manager, National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU).
Rwanda: Disability Often Still Carries a Stigma
BY JEAN-CHRISTOPHE NSANZIMANA, 13 JANUARY 2013
While major efforts have been made to create equality among all Rwandans, many people with disabilities still find life a challenge, not the least because of society's reaction to them.
It cannot get worse, though, than when parents themselves discriminate against their own disabled children. "In some families disabled children are still perceived as a disgrace," says Esperance Mukamabano, a 60-year -old mother of two.
She remembers the case of a paraplegic girl in her neighborhoods when she was young herself. "We all used to mistreat her and no one in our village wanted to be seen with her," Mukamabano admits shamefully. "Even her family used to force her to hide especially whenever they had visitors."
She adds that while nowadays such issues are less pronounced, they still exist especially in the countryside.
Sifa Ntakirutimana (26) is a double-leg amputee who lives in a foster family at Kagugu, Gasabo district. She lost her legs when she stepped on a landmine in the 1994 against Genocide against the Tutsis. It was a double tragedy for her because she also lost both of her parents. Since then she has been struggling to survive, not the least because of the stigma she has to live with since she became disabled. "When I lost my legs, everyone alienated me," says Ntakirutimana, who has never been either to school or vocational training.
She has been hosted by several families across Kigali, but most mistreated her. "In 2003, while living with a family in Gisozi, the husband raped me - I now have a nine-year-old girl."
That of course only makes life harder. "The baby was not a source of joy as it is for most women; she was a burden, as I knew she was an extra stomach to feed, while I didn't even have enough for myself!"
Later that year, Sifa was received by a family in Nyamirambo, yet the scenario repeated itself, with the man always demanding sexual favors.
Due to the pestering, she decided to relocate to Kanombe where she later had issues with the wife and moved to Kagugu-Gasabo district, where she resides now in another foster family.
While at least they treat her well, her hosts wouldn't accept her daughter. "It hurts me knowing that my daughter is going through a tough childhood like I did because where she lives, she is abused and there is nothing I can do to help her!" she says tearfully. "When I find enough money I will rent my own house. I'm tired of all this."
'I am not your brother'
To Egidia Nirere, a 22-year-old from Rubona, Ngoma district, Sifa's experience is familiar. Today a senior-five student at Gatagara high school, she too lost both her legs in early 2000, due to poison. After that, some members of her family began to disown her. "My father tells me every time we meet that he doesn't want to see me because I can't do anything. It is only my mother who understands my case and she is always willing to help me."
She recalls a time when she was about to return to school and she asked her brother money for the bus. "I don't want you to bother me! I'm not your brother," came the reply.
However, Nirere managed to get to school after her uncle intervened.
"What I experienced since my legs were amputated affected me psychologically. Sometimes I feel depressed and I even tried to commit suicide but failed," she says.
As someone who grew up with a disabled younger brother, Vedaste Kayiranga, 54, who is now a nurse at Kanombe hospital, shares the experience. "Based on what I saw during my childhood, disabled kids were not a concern for their parents as were normal kids," he observes.
According to Kayiranga, his parents used to favor him and his siblings unlike his disabled brother. "While we went to primary school, my father kept him at home to do domestic chores."
By the time Kayiranga finished his secondary studies in 1978, his father had passed away, though the rest of the family members still did not accept his brother. So Kayiranga enrolled him in a vocational training centre as it was impractical to sign up to formal education at the time.
Today, the brother is a professional tailor who feeds his family, instead of the worse fate that still befalls many disabled people. "If you stigmatize someone because of disability, they often see only one option to survive: begging."
Advocacy alone can’t stop killing of disabled children - Anas
Ace Investigative Journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas says advocacy alone is ineffective in tackling the age-old practice of deliberately killing disabled children in the Upper East region as a means of curing alleged misfortunes.
Anas Aremeyaw revealed the dastardly practice recently in his latest undercover work which he named “spirit child”.
He found that many families in the region hire elderly male spiritualists who declare disabled children as harbingers of misfortune for their families.
The parents of the children willingly conspire to the killing by having so called concoction men administer a poisonous potion mixed from lethal herbs.
In an interview with XYZ News, he said the age-old practice can effectively be tackled if the laws are enforced to stop the blatant human rights abuse of the children in that region.
“Over the years advocacy has been used as a tool to stop people from engaging in this practice but there has not been any single arrest of anybody killing these children.
My point in this investigation was simple, that advocacy alone cannot lead to the effective eradication or a modern democratic Ghana and a combination of advocacy and law enforcement will do the trick for us”.
Uganda: Sewandi Has Not Let Disability Hold Him Down
15 JANUARY 2013
Despite being disabled, Musa Sewandi has achieved more than many able- bodied people. Whereas some people in his condition wake up every morning to go and beg on the streets, Sewandi heads to his work station near the Nakawa Taxi Park.
Many disabled people believe that they cannot do anything for a living.
But for Sewandi, the story is different. He has to push his wheelchair from Mutungo to Nakawa to try and make ends meet.
Sewandi was born disabled in 1965. His father had a small business, but tried to educate his children. However, Sewandi never got a chance to go to school like his siblings.
"My father did not see any sense in educating me because I could not walk and no one was there to help me to school every day as I was the eldest," Sewandi says.
He says this used to hurt him, but he had nothing to do. "At some point, I thought God had punished me, but as the Bible says, God has plans for everyone. Certainly, he gave me the brains despite being disabled,"
He adds that in 1982, he started doing something for survival and his father bought him a wheelchair. He says he later borrowed sh700 from his friend and started making mandazi, which he hawked in Nakawa Market.
"People used to love my mandazi and I do not know whether they did it out of pity or not, but I was determined to work.
"By 1998, I had saved some money and I had paid back the debt. I decided to start making chapattis, but these were difficult and could take me a lot of time, so I decided to look for a permanent place where I could do business," he adds.
He says he bought a wooden kiosk in Nakawa and business worked very well for him. With the money he had got, he decided to marry.
"Marrying was the most important thing because I got a woman who helped me a lot. She is the one who pushes me to my workplace every day.
"Being in my state and you get someone who cares and loves you, then you should love her and never do anything to hurt her," he says.
By 2001, Sewandi had more capital, so he decided to start making samosas, fried cassava and selling tea. Sewandi wakes up as early as 4:00am to prepare and go to his workplace in Nakawa.
He works all day up to 11:00pm and sometimes to 12:00am, before he retires to Mutungo, where he resides. Sewandi says on a good day, he retires home with over sh120,000 and sometimes sh180,000.
"I come early for work because I know Sewandi is there and I am assured of ready breakfast. He really inspires me. He is a man who is supposed to be respected by able-bodied people because some of them are just there doing nothing," Christopher Kizito, a carpenter, says.
Sewandi says the biggest challenge is moving as he has to wait for his wife to push him to Nakawa, yet he would want to come by himself.
"Being in my state is not something easy because there are things you would want to do, but you cannot," Sewandi says. He also says too much heat from the charcoal stove sometimes makes him weak since he is unable to move around.
Sewandi advises disabled people not to be ashamed of themselves and to stop begging on the streets when they have the brains. "It really hurts me because these are the people who make people think that disability is inability, yet we can do everything that the able-bodied people can do.
So I call upon people with disabilities to be innovative and work,"
Sewandi advises. He also calls upon the Government to come up and support people who are disabled because many can engage in income- generating activities.
Sewandi adds that the disabled should be given some start-up capital. He also calls upon the Government to support children with disabilities because they are important and can do anything that the able-bodied people can do.
Namibia: Computers Best for Visually Impaired
BY ALVINE KAPITAKO, 16 JANUARY 2013
Windhoek - It is far easier for visually impaired individuals to use computers, instead of typewriters, says Daniel Trum, the national coordinator of the Namibian Federation of the Visually Impaired (NFVI).
Nowadays, visually impaired individuals have access to so-called talking software, which read the screen, such as 'non-visual desktop access' and 'talking typing teacher', which can be installed in their computers. The software programmes enable the computer to read out whatever is on the screen and the visually impaired person can use the computer just like anyone else for typing, reading and replying to emails or logging on to social networks, such as Facebook.
However, visually impaired individuals, as is the case when using a typewriter, have to master the keyboard, if they are to use the computer effectively. First, they have to master the letters in the home row of the keyboard. After that, learners have to master the letters on the rows above and beneath the home row, the head of rehabilitation at the NFVI, Magreth Shuuya, explained.
Students also have to master the arrow keys on the computer, since that would help them with navigation when using the computer, added Trum, who has been blind since 1997. "When we learn the computer, the very first session is exploring the computer to know what is on the keyboard. Once you type, you have to go through your document with the arrow key. The talking software programme has a feature that shows typing errors,"
explained Trum while demonstrating.
Trum added that using a mouse is not really effective for visually impaired people. According to Shuuya, who in the past taught typing to visually impaired students, learning the layout of the keyboard or computer depends on the student's ability and input. For example, it would take someone with a minimal or no school background much longer to learn than for someone who has attended school. Shuuya explained that the secret is for visually impaired learners or students to know where the letters are.
"Students can master the use of the computer in a month and if they are fast learners they can master it within two weeks," remarked Trum. The NFVI will this year, for the first time in its history, incorporate a computer literacy course as part of its training programme. "Our students will be taught basic computer skills, such as how to save a document and how to retrieve documents. If funds allow, we will also teach them how to use the Internet," he said.
The NFVI is a non-governmental organisation that promotes the wellbeing of visually impaired and partially sighted people by amongst others rehabilitating them. It provides various training programmes for the visually impaired. Trum is concerned that visually impaired people are generally excluded from current developments in the country. "Everything is far from us, nothing is user friendly," he said in a recent interview.
Zimbabwe: Paralympic Preps At Advanced Stage
BY MBACHI MUTUKULA-MAREGERE, 16 JANUARY 2013
PREPARATIONS for the sixth edition of the Zimbabwe National Paralympic Games set for Gweru have now reached an advanced stage with the launch of the Games expected before the end of the month.
The Games have been slated for April 9-13 and the launch is scheduled to take place at the Fairmile Motel on January 29. The local organising committee in the Midlands, which is staging the Games, will host a fund- raising dinner dance.
Simon Masaka, the Sports Commission regional manager for the Southern Region, said they were expecting the provincial leadership and business community to attend the function.
"Since the induction of the Local Organising Committee some time last year in November by the Sports Commission, we have managed to draw up a budget of US$300 000 to support the Games' hosting process and therefore we are appealing for support in both cash and kind", said Masaka.
The Games will take place at different venues with athletics for the visually impaired, amputees and intellectually challenged being hosted at Chaplin High School.
Goal ball will be held at Mkoba Teachers College just like five-aside football for intellectually challenged while XI Aside Football for the Hearing Impaired will be at Mkoba Stadium.
Netball for the hearing impaired, wheel chair tennis and wheelchair basketball, will be at Chaplin.
Female athletes are set to be accommodated at Chaplin and Thornhill schools while the male athletes will be at Mkoba Teachers College and Nashville High School.
The affiliation fees have been pegged at US$50 per athlete.
Nigeria: Cry, Beloved Maiduguri!
BY RASHIDA ZUBAIRU, 20 JANUARY 2013
Maiduguri, hitherto famously known as the home of peace, has now turned into the home of pieces, immoral values, molestation, corruption with its inhabitants' rights being trampled upon. I remembered when we used to have a long conversation in my grandparent's compound and my granddad would ask us to go to bed because it was late in the night (midnight). But now people go to bed as early as 8:00 pm.
My journey to Borno this year was a tedious one as there were many check points along the road. Among us was a retired army officer who made the journey less stressful by talking to the soldiers in their own 'unique dialect'.
When we reached Damagun, there was a gridlock measuring about three kilometres. The retired army officer had to come down from our vehicle to talk to the soldiers. Fortunately, they gave us a green light so we followed another lane. As we were moving forward, a man stood on the way making a call, the driver horned but the man adamantly ignored as if he was deaf.
Our driver went to speak to him but he ignored him till he finished his call. He insulted our driver. We pleaded and they paved way for us. We arrived Maiduguri 7:35pm after giving lots of bribes to the soldiers at all check points. My younger ones took me home.
Maiduguri to me looked like a ghost town; not the once heavily populated place I knew. Most residents had left the town for safer places. Places like Ngomari Costin, Bulabulin, Maiduguri, Gwange, Lowcost areas are now danger zones. One has to confirm about the safety of a place through phone calls before going anywhere in Borno due to the sudden explosions and gunshots by gunmen.
Unemployment and immoral acts are some of the factors contributing to the volatile nature of the state. I learnt from a reliable source that once a youngman, about twenty years old, approached a woman at the Post Office area of Maiduguri with a bag filled with guns. He was alleged to have said "Hajiya, is there any person, who is your enemy, that you want me to deal with? Give me N5,000 and your mission would be accomplished."
The woman was shocked. She pleaded and gave him N5,000, saying she had no enemy she knew of. The lives of the inhabitants of Borno are just like those of ants. How can one kill a fellow human being for N5,000?
Moreover, the Joint Task Force (JTF) and police brought in to calm the situation are worsening the situation by hunting down innocent people. Once, there is report of a murder on a particular street or area, people living in that area are in trouble because, the JTF would start their so called "search" at between 12:00 midnight or 1:00am, barging into people's houses, stealing their things and raping young and married women. All in the name of searching for hidden "weapons and guns".
Sadly, peoples' rights are being infringed upon as most of them are tongue-tight because of fear. There was a scene of an accident where a youth hit a car in front of him. Obviously, to the passers-by the youth was not at fault because the car in front of him didn't indicate it was taking a left turn while the youth, too, wanted to take the same left turn. That was how he hit the other car. It was as if JTF operatives were waiting for something like that to happen. They rushed to the scene. Without any investigation, they told the young man that he was at fault. They seized his car and told him to give them "something" otherwise they would not release it. The young man obediently gave them N3,000.00. That was how he got released.
Residents of Maiduguri are in dilemma; what can be termed double jeopardy. On the one side, they face the brutality of the JTF, who accuse the people of withholding information and identities of insurgents among them, hence they engage in mass arrests and torture.
On the other hand the insurgents, who are always suspicious of people around them of revealing their identities to authorities, are persecuting residents. They may have no means of confirming if truly such person had spied or "betrayed" them. They go ahead to kill the suspected informants.
Another dimension is how businessmen are being threatened by insurgents to give huge sums of money to support their cause or risk death. The insurgents threaten businesses and extended family members of owners. There is no shortage of instances in which whole families were slaughtered by insurgents from the "crime" of one member across the JTF curve.
There is a new meaning to the acronym ATM (Automated Teller Machine) that is the code name of helpless parents whose children (especially male youths) are arrested for the sake of making cool money for some of the corrupt elements within the JTF-fold. Parents usually paid between N50,000 and N400,000 to bail their children who may have been arrested while playing football in a neighbourhood playground. So, ATM, to JTF operatives means "Maiduguri parents who do whatever it is in their powers to provide money for bail in save the their wards."
Governor Kashim Shettima burst into tears as he presented the 2013 budget. That singular scenario, for the critical thinking mind, speaks volumes beyond what this write-up can express in words.
Disabled model in awareness campaign
January 21, 2013 in Entertainment, Life and Style
CHIEDZA Nkomazana (25), who was crowned Miss Disability Harare first princess in 2011, has lived up to the adage that disability is not inability.
Report by Munesu Nyakudya
Since being crowned, Nkomazana has gone places and made a mark on the local modelling scene. She cannot walk and uses a wheelchair.Nkomazana is part of an advocacy and campaign programme that is run by Leonard Cheshire Zimbabwe Trust called “Young Voices”.
Young Voices is made up of youths with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 25 who have a mandate to campaign for their rights as enshrined in the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons Living with Disabilities.
“I consider myself as the bridge between the able-bodied and disabled. I mainly represent those that are hard of hearing because I have a passion for assisting them, especially in interpreting for them (materials) at sexual reproduction and health seminars. I go out of my way to help them in any way I can,” she said.
Recently Nkomazana was given an opportunity to address an international audience at the United Nations in New York on disability issues. This has given her the experience and confidence to motivate and inspire other people living with disabilities,” she said.
“Most of people whom I have met in my life consider me as an activist. I use every opportunity I get to spread awareness on the rights of people living with disabilities.
Nkomazana encourages them never to let disability stop them from achieving what they want.
She added: “Reach for the moon and if you fall down you will land among the stars.”
Nkomazana has proved this in her personal life. She has a diploma in Diamond Cutting and Polishing and is currently furthering her studies in Information Technology.
She also plays wheelchair basketball for the best team in Zimbabwe, Wolves, which has won six consecutive championships for the past six years.
Hearing Assessment Centre inaugurated at Cape Coast School for the Deaf
Created on Monday, 21 January 2013 11:00
Published Date Written by All Ghana News Hits: 20
Cape Coast, Jan. 19, GNA - An ultra-modern Hearing Aid and Assessment Centre for the Cape Coast School of the Deaf and Visually Impaired was on Friday inaugurated by the Acting Central Regional Minister, Mrs Ama Benyiwa-Doe.
It was constructed by the Cape Coast Crystal Lions in collaboration with Lions Club International.
The plush GH¢ 500, 000 facility, which is the first of its kind to be instituted in the country, is well equipped with state-of-the-art hearing assessment aids including a tympanometer, ear irrigator, tunning fork and AC 40 audiometer.
It will help in the early detection of childhood hearing defects to facilitate immediate treatment and also provide counselling services to the public and attend to serious referral cases.
Mrs Benyiwa-Doe said the centre would, among others, serve as a teaching and learning centre for students of the University of Cape Coast School of Medical Sciences and benefit the under-privileged in the region and beyond.
She expressed gratitude to the Lions Club Ghana for the gesture and urged other organizations and the country’s developing partners to continue to support government programmes to improve the lot of the people.
Mrs Benyiwa-Doe commended both the teaching and non-teaching staff for their dedication to duty in spite of the challenges facing the school and urged them to keep the spirit up, adding that they should maintain the facility regularly for the benefit of society.
Ms Gloria Esi Lassey, Governor of District 403 A2 Lions Club International, said the centre would not serve the school only but be opened to the public in order to help prevent hearing impairment diseases early.
She indicated that the major objective of Lions Club was to support the underprivileged in society and put smiles on their faces and pledged their continued support to help reduce suffering in their communities.
Ms Lassey thanked the main financiers of the project; the Lions Club International Foundation and Vanguard Assurance Company, for making its dream a reality.
Ms Barbara Ennin, Headmistress of the School, thanked Lions Club for the centre and appealed to the government to support the school with the requisite equipment to make teaching and learning easier.
She said it was the dream of management to establish a secondary technical for the deaf in addition to the basic and vocational schools.
A six-member board of directors was instituted to see to the running of the centre.
Present at the ceremony was Mr Ebo Barton-Odro, Member of Parliament for Cape Coast North and First Deputy Speaker of Parliament.
Read more: allghananews.com - Hearing Assessment Centre inaugurated at Cape Coast School for the Deaf http://www.allghananews.com/general-news/44-education/7071-hearing-assessment-centre-inaugurated-at-cape-coast-school-for-the-deaf##ixzz2Iexcr5R8
Ghana Gets A 1st Visually Impaired As Minister
By Ghana News -SpyGhana.com
President John Dramani Mahama at the weekend nominated Dr Henry Seidu Daannaa, a visually impaired lawyer, as the Minister for Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs.
Dr Daannaa, who hails from Tuaha, in the Upper West Region, was born in 1955, and obtained a Doctorate and a degree in Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science between 1986 and 1992.
Ghana News Agency (GNA) learned that he also obtained a Masters’ degree in Law from the same University in 1982 after having completed an undergraduate law programme at the University of Ghana, between 1979 and 1981.
Since 1994, Dr Daannaa has been directing research into chieftaincy disputes for the Ministry of Culture and Chieftaincy among other things, and served as a research adviser to the National House of Chiefs.
He is recognised by the General Legal Council as the first Blind Barrister in Ghana, and now the first blind Minister of State.
On October 3, 1997, the General Legal Council, conferred a Special Prize Award on Dr Daanaa in recognition of his achievement as the first blind man to be trained as a lawyer at the Ghana School of Law, and to be enrolled on the list of lawyers in Ghana.
He currently serves as the National Director of Research at the Ministry of Culture and Chieftaincy and has also worked on the codification of Chieftaincy lines of succession for 21 paramount stools in the country.
The Minister nominee has also done a lot of research work on Chieftaincy issues which he published in the United Kingdom and was a member of the board of trustees of the Ghana Society for the Blind between 1995 and 1999.
Uganda: Disabled At University - a Glass Half-Full, Half Empty
BY ALON MWESIGWA, 22 JANUARY 2013
This is the second feature in our 10-part series analysing policy and practice on disability in Uganda.
Alon Mwesigwa writes that the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act has had a positive impact, but a lot remains to be done to improve the lives of disabled students.
He talks of his impending graduation with anupbeat smile.
"I have all my results. I haven't paid the graduation fees, but I am sure I will graduate," he says.
When you ask him about life at university, however, he frowns. His excitement about his glorious end belies a hidden sadness about the means he has had to go through to get here. When Rashid Ssozi, 30, was admitted to Makerere University in 2006 to do a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication, he hoped to find a conducive environment for a special needs student.
But Ssozi, who is visually impaired, would find the terrain rough. He did the three-year course in five years - not that he is dull, but because the environment at Makerere University was simply not favourable for a disabled student.
"I must confess that my stay at the university was hard," he says. "I reached a time when I didn't have a guide; no one could work for just Shs 30, 000 a month, [the money given to a guide for special needs student]. Unless someone is your relative, no one can work for that money?"
On another occasion, Ssozi says, he had to redo an economics paper because a guide misread for him the exams time table.
"I came late for the paper and when I laboured to explain to the lecturers what had happened, they told me to try another year. I must say the lecturer was unfair to me."
Every academic year, Ssozi received Shs 350, 000 to buy materials to use at school as a blind student. He would buy writing materials like paper braille, talking calculators, Perkins braille, among others. But he says the money was not enough. A realm of paper Braille, for instance, cost about Shs 25, 000 then. He needed about 10 a semester, meaning paper took up 70 percent of the facilitation money.
Ssozi is one of the special needs students that are admitted at universities and other tertiary institutions on the affirmative action ticket every year. Article 24, 2(b) of the Universities and other Tertiary institutions Act (2001) says every person with disability should be given an opportunity of acquiring higher education. The act also provides for the accessibility of physical facilities to all users of the public university including Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
This is in line with the UN convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which, in article 24(5), states: "...[government must ensure that] persons with disabilities are able to access general tertiary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning without discrimination and on an equal basis with others"
Observers point out that because of the Universities and other Tertiary Institutions Act, many more students have been able to access higher education than would have been previously possible.
Of the 4, 000 students admitted on government sponsorship to public universities every year, about 64 are special-needs students. They are admitted by the Public Universities Joint Admissions Board (PUJAB) at Makerere, and then distributed to other institutions according to where their courses of choice are offered.
But Ssozi and others like him say the environment for students is yet to adapt to their needs as PWDs. For instance, at Makerere University, many buildings have no ramps, yet some lectures take place in the upper floors. With no lifts, or with lifts that are not easily accessible by the disabled, it means some students cannot access certain lecture rooms.
Esther Kyozira, the manager for Disability and Human Rights programme at the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (Nudipu), applauds the achievements so far, but also talks about the empty half of the glass. The act, for instance, does not define a special needs student, with bonafide disabled students sometimes being left out. An albino, for instance, is not regarded as a PWD by most institutions.
"Unless he/she has another disability like being visually impaired, they (albinos) can't be admitted. It is also just recent that they started accepting little people among the disabled."
Also people with mental disability can never be admitted on the affirmative action basis. Universities say claim that the mentally disabled can later become a problem to the university.
"It is ironical that when such students go there on private sponsorship, they are admitted," Kyozira says.
Another challenge is the high dropout rate among PWDs at the lower school levels. The UN convention states in article 24 (2) that, persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability, and that children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory primary education, or from secondary education, on the basis of disability.
However, they are covertly excluded by the expensive school materials like Braille paper, Braille machine, walking sticks, and money for guides and special lenses.
For a person who cannot afford all these, it is hard to continue with studying. And once PWDs drop out early on, tertiary education is all but ruled out for them.
Joseph Ngobi, the spokesman for the ministry of Education, wants credit to be given where it is due.
"If you compared the past and today, the plight of PWDs has improved," Ngobi says. "Before this [Universities] act, we must agree that the number of these people (PWDs) joining higher institutions was negligible. Let us appreciate what is there and keep advocating for more. Yes, we admit that there are challenges, though."
Lawrence Madete, the Information officer at Kyambogo University, also argues universities are doing their best.
"We are on the right track. For instance at Kyambogo, all the lecturers who teach special [needs] students have been trained in special needs education - this makes their work easier and so the work of the students," he says.
"We might not have been able to meet all their needs, but we really hope for the better."
But he hopes future cohorts of disabled university students will have a more enabling environment.For Rashid Ssozi, no moment would be better than his graduation.
This Observer feature was prepared with support from the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU
President Mahama believes in capability of persons with disability - GBU
Ghana Business News
Page last updated at Tuesday, January 22, 2013 7:07 AM //
President John Mahama
Dr Peter Obeng-Asamoa, Executive Director for the Ghana Blind Union, on Monday applauded President John Dramani Mahama for appointing Dr Henry Seidu Daannaa, Minister designate for Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs.
Dr Obeng-Asamoa said the appointment showed that the President believed in the competence and capability of persons with disability, which signified an all inclusive government that would add to the beauty of democracy.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency on Monday, Mr Obeng-Asamoa said Dr Daanaa, the first visually impaired lawyer in the country, with extensive experience in chieftaincy issues, if given the requisite support would be able to perform well like any other Minister of state.
Dr Obeng-Asamoa said he was confident that Dr Daannaa would perform well because of his experience in chieftaincy and traditional affairs, adding that competence should not be linked to disability.
“The fact that somebody is disabled does not mean the person is not capable of functioning in society since everybody has a place in society to contribute to national development”, Dr Obeng-Asamoa said.He expressed worry that some institutions in the country denied persons with disability positions due them, which infringed on their rights, adding that “The President’s appointment would send a signal to other organisations to give opportunities to competent persons with disability”.
Dr Obeng-Asamoa said the Union was happy with the Presidents’ appointment because disability had not been used against Dr Daannaa, and expressed the hope the Minister designate would make a mark in his field when given the nod as substantive Minister.
He asked Ghanaians to think positively about persons leaving with disability and give them the required platform to contribute to the national development.
Dr Daannaa, who was born in 1955 in Tuaha in the Upper West Region, is recognized by the General Legal Council as the First Blind Barrister in Ghana.
He obtained a Doctorate and a Degree in Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science between 1986 and 1992, and a Masters’ degree in Law from the same University in 1982, after completing undergraduate law program at the University of Ghana between 1979 and 1981.
Dr. Daannaa worked on the codification of chieftaincy lines of succession for 21 paramount stools in the country, and on October 3, 1997, the General Legal Council, conferred a special prize award on him in recognition of his achievement as the first blind man to be trained as a lawyer at the Ghana School of Law.
Dr Daanaa, currently, serves as the National Director of Research at the Ministry of Culture and Chieftaincy.
Eritrea: Disabled Citizens Witnessing Improvement of Livelihood
22 JANUARY 2013
Nacfa - A number of disabled citizens in Nacfa sub-zone are reportedly witnessing improvement of livelihood on the basis of effective utilization of interest-free credit.
Among the beneficiaries, Mr. Hamd Idris and Mr. Abrehaley Solomon pointed out that they are in a position to own small-scale businesses and demonstrate success in their ventures, the scope of which they anticipate to expand in the future.
Likewise, Mr. Mohammed-Ali Mohammed and Mr. Osman Ibrahim indicated that they have already reimbursed their credits, and would become beneficiaries of the second-term credit scheme.
Congo-Kinshasa: Giving Goma a Voice, No Words Needed
BY GAIUS KOWENE, 22 JANUARY 2013
Goma - Meschack Kadima takes it upon himself to give voice to the voiceless. That's a real challenge, considering the young illustrator lives in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, in a society he feels is too repressed to condemn the troubling political situation.
Kadima uses an ordinary pencil and a box of coloured pencils to put his thoughts on paper. The war and the suppressed freedom of expression it has brought with it have supplied plenty of artistic fodder.
But one day, when Kadima saw two deaf people using sign language, he realized his art skills could be put to a good, more global cause. Inspired by how the deaf communicated without using their mouths, he decided to express the collective emotions of people around him.
"I noticed that here, in the east where all sorts of crimes are committed, there are many mute people who cannot express what they feel," the artist explains, referring to those who are silenced for political reasons. "As their brother, I decided to speak on their behalf."
Kadima tries to do just that through his drawings, which he publishes on Facebook and occasionally will do on commission.
Among Kadima's signature drawings is that of a man's head, accented in the colours of the DRC flag. His face is filled in with pencil and a red stream flows down its left.
"It's the face of an injured Congolese man who cries every day," explains the Goma artist. "He fears that speaking the truth will get him killed. That's why the truth is written on his face - so that anyone who sees him knows what's going on in his country."
The face is meant to represents the DRC. The left eye crying blood represents those who have died in the east of the country. The other eye, crying normal tears, represents those who mourn in its western region.
In another drawing, Kadima addresses the underdevelopment of the continent as a whole. The young artist turns the map of Africa into the head of a woman. Her eyes closed, she is contemplative, if not downtrodden. She wear the Congolese flag as a headscarf.
About this piece, Kadima says: "The Bible says that he who finds a wife finds happiness. But if a man finds a woman who has been raped, he will never be happy. And Africa will continue to cry because the DRC is its heart. As long as Congolese women continue to be raped, the DRC and in Africa will not prosper."
Despite the gloomy analysis, the artist remains optimistic about his country's future.
"We are still hopeful that in 20 years, there will be some change. The Congolese people are waking up. If we become more socially conscious, there will be no more conflict and the DRC will become the world's El Dorado in 20 years," he predicts.
Kadima encourages his peers to work and, in so doing, to be patriotic. "We inherited a country in ruins from our grandparents," he says. "It is up to us to rebuild it. Let's step up; let's love our country and work for it."
Listen to a segment of the recent talk our correspondent had with Mescheck Kadima.
Kenya: Fight Corruption and Injustices, Pastor Urges Christians
22 JANUARY 2013
Nairobi - Christians have been urged to participate fully in the fight against corruption and injustices in the society.
"This should be part and parcel of the Church teaching and the Christians should embrace it in their daily life", said Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) Church minister, Edward Buri.
The Church minister, who is the PCEA Youth Director at Saint Andrews PCEA Church, Nairobi was delivering a sermon at the Catholic Saint Paul's University Chaplaincy, Nairobi on Saturday, January 19 during the Service of prayer to mark the Week of Christian Unity for 2013.
The week of Christian Unity, opened on January 18 and will close on January 25.
This year's theme of the Week is: What Does God Require of Us? taken from the Book of Micah 6: 6-8.
In Kenya, the Week is being animated by the Nairobi Ecumenical Group NEG), which has carried the similar exercise in the past.
Pastor Buri reminded the congregation, which included clerics and Christians from various denominations the need for the Church to participate in leadership matters.
In the country's forthcoming general elections, the Church through its leaders and followers should ensure that it has participated fully in this political exercise, he emphasized.
"God has mandated us to undertake this mission and therefore we must feel obliged to do this," added Pastor Buri.
On behalf of the participating churches in the ecumenical Service, Father Patrick Kanja, Father-in-Charge of Saint Paul's University Chaplaincy praised the ecumenical seed they have managed to plant by holding the annual Week of Christian Unity jointly.
Choirs from Saint Paul's University Chaplaincy and PCEA Saint Andrews formed part of the Service. Also a deaf from St Andrews PCEA Church also sang to the congregation, through its sign language instructors.
The ecumenical congregation later on congregated for a cup of tea and biscuits, hosted by the NEG.
Nasarawa To Establish Special Schools For Physically Challenged
Thu, 24/01/2013 - 4:46am | DONATUS NADI News Education
Nasarawa State is set to establish three special schools for the physically challenged to alleviate their plights and accord them a better chance at integrating themselves into the society and contribute their quota to the development of the state.
The state deputy governor, Hon. dameshi Barau Luka, who made this known at the annual public lecture organised by the United States embassy in Nigeria to mark Martin Luther King Jr’s anniversary, stated that the three schools to be established include those for the deaf, blind and the crippled.
While calling on the American ambassador, Mr. Terence P. McCulley, who was the guest lecturer at the event for support to empower the physically challenged, Hon. Barau noted that only late last year the state governor, Umaru Tanko Almakura undertook a trip to the United States to seek technical support from interested public partners.
The deputy governor, while pointing out that the honour accorded the Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), as the host of this year’s commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day, provided the state “yet another opportunity to explore areas of common interest” added that Nasarawa State government “is very eager to jumpstart our economy for rapid development and for the benefit of the rural populace”.
It would be recalled that only recently the Nasarawa State governor, Tanko Al-makura, appointed a cripple, Mohammed Apa, to the exalted office of the solicitor general of the state, the first of its kind in the history of the state.
21-yr-old arrested for raping deaf, dumb girl
Written by Oluwatoyin Malik Thursday, 24 January 2013 00:00
A 21-year-old man, Shina Amusa, is currently in the custody of the Osun State police command for allegedly having carnal knowledge of an 18-year-old deaf and dumb girl (names withheld).
The suspect, who is being investigated by detectives attached to Dugbe Divisional Police Headquarters, Osogbo, was alleged to have overpowered the girl and forced her into his room before raping her.
Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Folasade Odoro, who spoke with the Nigerian Tribune on the issue, said the case, which was reported to the police by the father of the victim, Yisa Adebayo, was being handled with seriousness to ensure that the suspect faces the full consequence of his action.
The victim’s father told the police that the girl went to the ground floor of their residence, located at Owode Street, Osogbo, to use the convenience when Amusa gripped her and forced her into his room.
The man said: “About five minutes later, I went looking for her. That was how I started hearing her voice. I traced her and discovered that she was shouting from Amusa’s room.”
The man said further that the suspect had locked the door when he got to his room and by the time he forced the door open, he met Amusa having sex with his daughter.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that the victim had been taken to the Ladoke Akintola Teaching University Hospital (LAUTECH), Osogbo, for treatment, where it was confirmed that there was penetration of the girl’s private part.
The PPRO said that the case had been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Osogbo, for further investigation.
Uganda: Health Sector Remains Blind to Needs of the Disabled
BY SHIFA MWESIGYE, 24 JANUARY 2013
Uganda has some good policies and laws on disability, but many are still wanting.
Even where policy and legislation are conducive to the creation of an enabling environment for disabled persons, implementation is often a problem. The National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (Nudipu) has partnered with The Observer to compare policy and practice. In the first dispatch of a 10-part series, Shifa Mwesigye looks at Uganda's Health Sector Strategic Plan III
Hamida Namumbejja crawls on her four limbs into the house and her son Moses Gudion follows her, crying for attention. The light - skinned 28-year-old sits down and starts drawing lines on the floor as she greets the visitors. She is smart and clean, her hair well - kempt and her outlook carefully maintained. One-year-old Gudion slumps down on her lap and continues to cry as he fidgets with Namumbejja's blouse in an attempt to serve himself his meal - breast milk.
He attempts to pull the buttons off and refuses to calm down, until Namumbejja relents and gives him what he wants. Namumbejja is physically handicapped, both her legs are inert. Delivering Gudion nearly killed her right thigh and hip because Namumbejja spent four days in labour at Mulago hospital's Ward 5B. Normally the physically handicapped deliver by caesarean section. But when Namumbejja arrived at the hospital at 2am on March 5, 2010, she was in pain.
The midwife told her she would be able to deliver the baby. But after two days in labour with no progress, she says a nurse informed her that she was to be taken to the theatre and be delivered by caesarean surgery.
"They wanted Shs 70,000 to do the operation; we did not have the money. I begged the nurse to help me because I was in so much pain but she refused, I didn't know what to do," Namumbejja says.
After another two days, her partner, who makes charcoal stoves for a living, mobilised the money and Namumbejja was wheeled into the theatre were her son was born. She says her son was too tired and spent another four days in the incubator before they were sent home.
"When the nurse came back to inject me, I told her I could not sit up because my thigh was paralysed, but she thought I was just being lazy. I spent eight months in physiotherapy at Katalemwa Cheshire Home and CoRSU (Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services in Uganda) to get motion in my thigh," Namumbejja says.
Such mismanagement of persons with disabilities at health centres keeps human rights activists awake, as they wonder why government cannot plan an all encompassing health care system that includes the needs of the PWDs. One may argue that government has done its part and taken care of PWDs by ensuring access to health care for every Ugandan without segregation.
Uganda ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2010. In Article 25, the convention obliges Uganda to provide the highest attainable standards of health for persons with disabilities, prevent discrimination on the grounds of disability and provide care on the basis of free and informed consent of the person with disability.
Uganda is also mandated to promote ethical standards of practice by health workers in the public and private sectors and provide gender-sensitive services, including information on reproduction and family planning in accessible formats to mothers like Namumbejja without forcing them to use contraceptives. Article 26 notes that states shall train personnel in the health sector in multidisciplinary assessment of individual needs and strengths of people with disabilities.
The Health Sector Strategic Plan III, which was designed last year, states that 300,000 people in Uganda have hearing impairments while 250,000 are blind, the causes of which are largely preventable. The policy states that it will work towards improving access to health services of people with disabilities by rehabilitating health facilities to make them accessible to people with various forms of disabilities like Namumbejja.
The policy states that government will develop and disseminate a protocol for provision of services to people with disabilities and train health workers on control, prevention and treatment of injuries and disabilities. Government targets to reduce hearing impairment from 8% to 6%, reduce visual impairment from an estimated 0.8% to 0.7%, provide assistive devices to 80% of PWDs who need them by 2015 and educate 80% of Ugandans on disability prevention and rehabilitation.
Edson Ngirabakunzi, the executive director of the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (Nudipu), says Uganda's policies and laws do not clearly address disableds' issues but only skirt around them. While disabled persons may have access to health centres, when they get there they are discriminated against directly and indirectly.
Most health centres including referral hospitals are not accessible to disabled persons as they do not have ramps or elevators.
"Before they even see a doctor, they already feel unwelcome. How will a deaf person get information from a medical worker talking to a person who does not hear? There are no sign language interpreters in hospitals. Medical curriculum doesn't address issues of disability," Ngirabakunzi says.
He says the policies do not take into account blind people when providing drugs to them.
"How will a blind person know what drug they are taking when they are not brailled? Health information is not provided in braille, so they miss out. A deaf and blind person will easily take the wrong drug if they don't have someone to assist them," Ngirabakunzi says.
When disabled mothers like Namumbejja go to deliver, they are asked to climb delivery beds they obviously cannot reach. Nurses ask them why they even bother to get pregnant to add onto their 'burden' yet it is a human right to have children.
Ronald Kasule, another physically handicapped person, says disabled persons are not provided with sexual and reproductive health information and condoms because doctors assume they are or should not be sexually active. Yet disabled women are raped or abandoned by their partners when they get pregnant.
Take mental health, for example; it contributes 13% to the national disease burden. In 2009, Butabika hospital, the only referral hospital for mental health, handled 2,707 patients, with an additional 334 readmissions. Data from supervision reports shows that about 75% of attendances at mental health clinics have some form of neurological problem, commonly epilepsy, with cases of dementia on the increase especially among persons living with HIV/Aids.
So far, seven Regional Mental Health Units have been constructed in Arua, Soroti, Jinja, Mbale, Mbarara, Kabale, and Masaka, with expansions both in terms of infrastructure and human recourses. Julius Kayiira, the executive director at Mental Health Uganda, says care for mentally handicapped people has improved but the implementation of mental health programmes is hampered by inadequate staffing, inadequate resource allocation and the lack of mental health drugs on the local market.
The country has 32 psychiatric doctors and 227 psychiatric clinical officers who are not sufficient for 34 million people. Richard Ecamayi, who has battled mental illness for 16 years, says when drugs run out in Arua referral hospital, it is expensive for him to buy them yet he has to move to Kampala to get a refill. Kayiira says the 1964 Uganda Mental Treatment Act looks at people with mental illness as criminals, dangerous to society, that need no protection, a people condemned to lifelong unproductive life.
The law leaves the patient at the mercy of his or her doctor and with no chances of intervention of other caregivers or peers in the decision making process which is quite unacceptable in modern mental health care as many pertinent decisions are made in the process. He says the law is insensitive to human rights in general and health rights. It criminalises mental illness and calls mentally ill people as persons of unsound mind, a derogatory discriminatory name.
"Community mental health is very weak, follow- up on treatment is lacking. Treatment of people who are mentally handicapped starts in hospitals where doctors dish out drugs yet it should start at community level".
What he means is that the government needs to set up a health care system that identifies people who need help. People in communities should be sensitised about mental health in order to identify and offer help to people who are mentally ill instead of segregating them.
Ngirabakunzi says that when drawing plans for PWDs, the government should involve them at the planning stage to identify issues of disabled persons and prioritise them. By working with them, solutions suggested by disabled persons will work.
"We are saying every policy, programme and activity must address the issues of disabled persons. Don't create a separate hospital but remove barriers that stop disabled people from accessing health services. If they are inclusive in society, life becomes better for everyone," Ngirabakunzi says.
This Observer feature was prepared with support from the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU).
Nigeria: Forgotten Aspects of Education (I)
BY LAJU ARENYEKA, 24 JANUARY 2013
With unemployment rates on the rise, even for university graduates, experts have had to question the turn which the education sector is taking. As mainstream education grapples with survival amidst many challenges, there are other aspects of education where the average Nigerian student does not stand a chance when compared to his counterparts in the global village; aspects of education that seem to be forgotten.
Slow to boot in Computer education
Nigerian students seem to be languishing in the dust behind the moving train of the 21st Century as a result of poor computer education in many secondary schools across the country. Investigations carried out by Vanguard Learning revealed that many schools in Nigeria lack up-to-date computer technology and that many of those that have computers have little or no access to electricity.
Also, some Nigerian students have only been in a computer classroom when their school is privileged to have a qualified corps member for one year of national youth service. Remi Ademiju, is one of such Corps members who teaches computer science in a government school in Southern Nigeria.
He said; "I teach basic knowledge about the computer. We are supposed to have practical classes, but we can't because there is hardly any electricity here, and the school doesn't have a generator. The students barely visit the computer lab. So we just teach them theory. Out of a class of about 60 people, only one person claims to have worked on a computer before, on his uncle's laptop."
Professor Olu Jegede, a lecturer at the Institute of Education, Obafemi Awolowo University said; "Illiteracy is now beyond being able to read and write. Once computer education is out of it, that person is an illiterate. Very few of the schools that have access to computers also have access to the internet and that is a very big problem."
Professor Jegede and his colleague, Josiah Abiodun Owolabi in 2003 did a research on Education in Nigerian Secondary Schools: Gaps between Policy and Practice, where they compared the National Computer Policy (1988) with existing school practice at that time. The now obsolete policy, whose objectives were to "Bring about a computer literate society in Nigeria by the mid-1990s, and enable present school children to appreciate and use the computer in various aspects of life and in future employment" obviously passed on with the tenure of the policymakers as a 2010 report showed that 90 per cent of primary school teachers are not computer literate.
Educating children with special needs
According to the 2006 national census, there were 3,253,169 persons with disability in Nigeria, with nearly 39 per cent of school age. Experts expect the number to increase. The number of seemingly normal children who are out of school runs into millions, how much more those who are blind, deaf, lame or autistic?
Ikenna Okpala is a Law graduate from the University of Lagos who was born blind. He is one of the lucky few who scaled through the system. "When I was in secondary school, many teachers were oblivious of the fact that there were blind students in the class. A teacher would just enter the class and start copying a note on the board, and clean off as soon as he was done. I had to develop another approach. After classes, I would get people to read their notes out loud to me. I would write them out, and translate to Braille. Many of my teachers didn't even know they had such a student in their class until it was time for test, and I would bring out my type writer."
Dr. Kunle Adebiyi, a lecturer at the Department of Special Education, Federal College of Education (Special), Oyo, said; "Because of lack of sensitization, many are not really aware that such people can get good education. We need to sensitize the general public to communicate with such people."
If sensitization concerning learning for the physically disabled child leaves much to be desired, then awareness about unseen disabilities such as autism, are nearly non-existent. This is the view of Oke Martins, the brain behind Austism Associates, a non-governmental organisation that helps solve Autism Spectrum Disorder and related developmental disabilities in Nigeria.
According to him; "There are some conditions that are well known and to some extent, have available provisions, but there are some other conditions that aren't well known and have scant provisions. The big challenge with unseen disabilities such as autism is that they have no physical features, and as such, millions of Nigerians living with it are undiagnosed, and there is barely provision for them.
"Autism is now regarded as a global epidemic, reports say that it is the third most common disability in the world," Martins said, "but as I am talking to you now, there isn't a single centre for learning for people with autism that is government- owned. Even those that are set up by individuals are in cities such as Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt," he added.
Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja early last year, the Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyat Rufa'i said that six zonal autism centres would be established for early detection and treatment of autism as part of Federal Government's effort to address issues of autism. She also said her ministry has been training the regular classroom teachers on "methods and techniques of handling children with autism in an inclusive classroom setting."
No medal in Sports Education
Hon. Daniel Ighali is a Nigerian-born wrestler who won the Olympic gold medal for Canada in 1998. When asked to comment on sports education in Nigeria, Ighali replied: "Is there really such a thing as sports education in Nigeria? If there is, I didn't know about it.
"The age group set up is not here at all. In Canada for example, sports recruits are chosen from primary six at the age of 12. But training begins much younger than that, my son is six, and he has already started training. In sports like gymnastics, swimming and golf, techniques are taught from ages 2 - 3."
Zimbabwe: Rights Boost for Zimbabwe's Deaf
BY RICHARD LEE, 25 JANUARY 2013
The fight against HIV and AIDS and the struggle for the rights of people with disabilities have just received a timely boost in Zimbabwe with the publication of a Sexual and Reproductive Health Sign Language Dictionary, which will help to reduce the vulnerability of hearing impaired people to HIV as well as boost their capacity to claim their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
Research has shown that people living with disabilities are at great risk of acquiring HIV, while empirical evidence has also demonstrated that people with sensory impairments - the deaf and blind - are more vulnerable than others, due to their special communication needs.
In particular, the absence of signs for many of the technical terms related to HIV and SRHR has created serious disadvantages for hearing impaired people and increased their vulnerability to HIV, and made it difficult for them to claim their rights.
In addition, there has been a very wide gap in the provision of HIV and AIDS services, as well as information related to sexual and reproductive health rights, for the deaf. They are generally not considered in programming, not by design, but as a result of the lack of sign language articulation amongst the majority of service providers.
Given this, the HIV and AIDS Management and Support Organization (THAMASO-ZIMBABWE) - in collaboration with the Disability HIV & AIDS Trust (DHAT) - decided to produce a special dictionary for people with hearing impairments that includes HIV and SRHR related signs.
The dictionary has now been published and includes an illustrated guide to signing and signing for individual letters, along with illustrations and descriptions for common words and for those new HIV/SRHR signs that have been developed, making it an invaluable reference for both those with hearing impairments and those without hearing challenges.
In respecting the adage "nothing for us without us" people with hearing impairments, drawn from all the provinces of Zimbabwe, developed the dictionary. Two workshops attended by deaf people from each province were conducted during which HIV, AIDS and SRHR information was disseminated to the deaf participants, which helped them to design informed signs.
And not just informed but critically standardised health-related sign language.
The dictionary is suitable for use in educational institutions (schools, colleges and universities) as well as in health institutions such as hospitals, clinics and VCT centres. Counsellors and all staff working directly and indirectly in the HIV and SRHR sectors will find the dictionary most useful.
The production of the dictionary was supported by the European Union, the Open Society for Southern Africa (OSISA) and the Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAFAIDS) - and involved participation from key government ministries, the National Council for the Hard of Hearing, the Zimbabwe National Association of the Deaf, the Zimbabwe Open University and the University of Zimbabwe.
This dictionary follows the publication in 2011 of the first general sign language dictionary in Zimbabwe, which was also supported by OSISA.
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Zimbabwe’s Election Challenges & The Rights of The Disabled
Published: February 12, 2013
By Sondon Stalin Mugaradziko
The history of elections in Zimbabwe after independence has been fraught with election fraud, voter intimidation, ballot stuffing and the desecrated usage of deceased people’s names on the roll to boost numbers. Gerrymandering too has to some extent been a ploy to establish an uneven terrain on elections in the country. Without these factors being timely addressed, a free and fair election in Zimbabwe is bound to be a challenging feat.
The Zimbabwean Electoral Act holds that the voter should get the ballot paper, cast a vote, fold the paper so that the cross is not visible and then show it to the polling officer. As for the disabled, blind and illiterate, they will be accompanied by a polling officer or a government appointee who will assist them to vote.
The Universal Ballot System
By secret ballot, a voter’s choice in an election should remain anonymous and free from influence, fear, intimidation or pressure to pick a certain candidate. The ultimate goal should be privacy and anonymity.
Traditionally, a voter at home has cast a vote through placing an “X” on own choice and depositing the ballot paper. The system has in the past been underlined by fraud and absence of accountability. Over the years it has been improved to eliminate main issues of concern. Now there is a pre-printed form with names and symbols emblazoned on it. Besides the written vote, there used to be the viva voce or oral ballot. In there, the rolls would be announced and voters would come forward and publicly announce their choice. The results were rightfully considered and noted down. The only issue with that was confidentiality and privacy. Retribution and reprisal were inevitable consequences in that system.
The secret ballot would eliminate bias and protect voter privacy. Invented in Australia around 1850, the system was adopted in the US Massachusetts in 1889, in France in 1795 and in Britain, in 1872. And when the British colonized Zimbabwe, they imported the same ballot system.
The secrecy of the ballot would secure the credibility of an election, a basis for free and fair, and legitimate election. Cast votes would be perceived as representative of the true choices of the electorate. A election would therefore be the ultimate decisive factor in conflict situations and polarized societies. Where voters faced intimidation, then the vote would be held as a sham and the result would not be recognized. An election underlined with intimidation and victimisation of voters could be seen as bringing skewed or distorted results due to absence of voter secrecy and freedom of choice.
In 2005, Zimbabwe used transparent ballot boxes for the first time in a general election. While the use of the translucent boxes realized more confidence through erasing suspicions on ballot stuffing, more problems arose with that. The rural electorate in Zimbabwe was pressured to vote for a particular system under misguided threats that the vote was as public as the translucent box and there would be consequent audits. That made many align with the ruling party.
The secrecy of election in 2005 and 2008 had free voting procedures, more laid out ballot papers and use of booths which were well covered and guarded. The ballot papers ensured that no manipulation would take place to compromise the secrecy of the ballot. The ballot papers had photographs, names of candidates and symbols, to make it easy for voters. There were also mechanisms to assist the disabled and illiterate in a transparent manner. The process of casting the vote inside the polling station was also clear.
Besides the secret ballot, the only issue outstanding was that of taking the folded ballot and holding it before the polling officer before depositing it. The polling officer would approve before the vote was deposited. That was a ploy now exploited by those doing voter intimidation as they stated that the polling officer could easily tell which party one voted for. In case of a spoilt vote, paper would be returned to the polling officer for cancellation, retention and reconciliation. Some conclusions could be drawn from the spoilt ballots and could expose a voter’s secrecy. While the process occurred, the presence of international observers and local monitors in Zimbabwe elections was crucial in building voter confidence and ensuring the integrity of the secret ballot voting system.
Counting is complementary to vote secrecy and is very important in the electoral processes as it ensures that credible and original vote casts should not be rigged. In this regard, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) presided over the counting process guaranteeing that no legitimate vote was rejected, accuracy was adopted and ballot stuffing was eliminated to some extent.
Despite a fairly professional performance by ZEC in the past, there have been sporadic reports of voter intimidation, harassment and threats of retribution and reprisals. That has negatively compromised voter secrecy and freedom. Chiefs’ and village headmen too have been known to issue grave threats of punishment and jail time against those potentially bound to vote against the ruling party. Consequently many rural voters have voted for the ruling party to make peace and avoid blood.
The proposed amendment to the Electoral stipulates that there shall be a polling station based on voters’ rolls. This could expose voters and create a sense of insecurity in case election audits happen after the exercise as a losing party challenges results.
In some situations, those deemed untrustworthy, such as the vocal ones, have been pressured to surrender their voting rights and partisan polling officers have voted on their behalf. But regardless of efforts for transparency, such election fraud, intimidation and pressure will always exist until the rural voters are educated and assured enough to resist intimidation.
This is inconsistent with the secrecy of the ballot. The presence of partisan chiefs and patronized headmen at polling stations has been a barrier to free elections and voter secrecy because these leaders are also mandated to force their subjects to vote in a particular way in exchange for shenanigans.
The issue of disabled and illiterate voters who would need guidance at the ballot remains s of great concern. These should be protected by trustworthy people in whose company they feel comfortable or confident such as immediate family or friends or wana sahwira. Instead, they have been guided by partisan polling officers who have made them make wrong choices.
Such lack of confidence and instilled fear and insecurity especially through holding up a cast vote to the presiding officer, is detrimental to voter secrecy.
In the past elections, the postal ballot has realized confusion and doubt through the employment of an arbitrary accounting system for the votes. That has left many voters especially the estimated 3 million Zimbabweans abroad distraught. Armed security forces have also cast votes openly before their superiors who gather the ballot papers and stuff boxes. Some have even been made to vote twice.
The postal voting has not been transparent enough due to corrupt administration and at times outright gerrymandering for the benefit of the ruling party. For instance, in 2005, the deemed opposition parties were not participant to monitoring of the postal ballot voting processes, which posed a high possibility that the secrecy of the vote had been compromised. The element of an opaque, corrupt and pressured situation still makes voting an uphill struggle in Zimbabwe.
The current system denies the disabled people the right to vote in secret. In many democracies the world over, disabled persons vote by appointing a trusted close person to complete the ballot on their behalf. While in Zimbabwe, people with disabilities also appoint someone to help them vote the polling officer should be present as a third party thereby violating voter secrecy.
In the June 2008 election, some government employees were forced to act illiterate or blind and were assisted by activists from a political party, to cast their votes thereby defeating the supposed free nature of elections.
Article 29 of the UN Convention of 2008 on the rights of Persons with Disabilities demands that member states protect the rights of the disabled on ballot elections and referendums through the provision of user-friendly equipment to the disabled to exercise secrecy, independence and freedom. This does not happen in Zimbabwe. Some countries use electronic voting machines. Others have braille for the blind. Zimbabwe has no options on this one as yet.
Secrecy versus Reliability.
With the Zimbabwean system of secret ballot, a vote is easily traceable to voter. A ballot has a stub that connects to the voter. Therefore the secrecy of the ballot is, to some extent, theoretical. Polling station officials colluding with election scrutinizers may therefore witch-hunt and determine how individual electors decided behind the booth.
Be that as it may, the ballot system becomes a security measure in times of alleged fraud. In some countries, the ballot paper itself is unnumbered, only the stump has a number on it and reconciliation is carried out before the counting.
The Zimbabwe voting system should enhance voter secrecy. There should be guaranteed free voting scenarios, absence of intimidation, acts of overreaching and threats. There should also be no hostile environments within voting premises, let alone terror squads promising retribution to voters in case a particular party loses elections.
The rural electorate remains susceptible to intimidation, does not vote in secrecy and their democracy aspirations remain a fallacy.
Zimbabwe should secure the postal voting system to ensure accountability, transparency and secrecy of the ballot. Ballot papers should be on the open roll. Register voters should be known and the constituencies should be established on foreign vote. An estimated 3 million live in the Diaspora. They have a democratic right to participate in their home country’s elections: the same right of postal voting that those in the uniformed services and diplomatic services possess should be extended to them. They remain Zimbabweans even if they are in foreign lands. It is a fact that while many Zimbabweans are scattered across the globe in search of greener pastures, the majority still remain connected to Zimbabwe as their home. They are attached to Zimbabwe as sons and daughters of the soil; they still speak the native languages of Zimbabwe, they still continue to live the culture of Zimbabwe wherever they are. They play Zimbabwean music, eat Zimbabwean food and raise their children on the social values of Zimbabwe. Their umbilical codes are still in Zimbabwe; their parents, families and friends still live in Zimbabwe. Most have left behind properties and other assets of value that keep them engaged to Zimbabwe as their ultimate retirement home. And as such, they continue to yearn for a just and fair Zimbabwe. Accord them the right to belong to their country through a championed democracy.
There is hope for democracy once the voter secrecy and free elections are guaranteed. The postal vote too should be made transparent while the disabled people’s voting rights are exercised with respect and dignity.
*Sondon Stalin Mugaradziko is the Secretary of International Relations in the MDC led by President Ncube. He will run for MP post in Mutare Central Constituency this 2013.
Parliament Approves First Ever Visually Impaired Minister, 10 Others
Wednesday, 13 February 2013 16:00
The Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic has approved the nomination of the first ever visually impaired minister, Dr Henry Seidu Daanaa to head the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs and ten other persons nominated by the President for various ministerial positions.
Their nomination was unanimously approved by the House after considering the fourth and fifth reports of the Appointments Committee.
The other ten include: Nii Armaah Ashitey, Employment Ministry; Elizabeth Ofosu Agyare, Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts Ministry; Mr. Nyon Bilijo, Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and Nii Ashitey Agbo, Minister-designate for the Greater Accra Region.Others are: Paul Evans Aidoo, Minister-designate for Western Region; Hani Sherry Ayitey, Health Ministry; Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, Youth and Sports Miistry and Mr Kwesi Awhoi, Interior Ministry.
The rest include Mr Mark Owen Woyongo, Minister-designate for Defense, and Mr Eric Opoku, Minister-designate for the Brong Ahafo Region.
Chairman of the committee who moved the motion for the adoption of the committee's report said the committee carried out its duty diligently in accordance with the constitution and standing orders of the house and recommended their approval by consensus.
Members of the majority who contributed to the motion commended the nominees for their performance during the vetting exercise.
Meanwhile, the Committee today resumed vetting other ministerial nominees.
They include: Mr Samuel Sarpong (Ashanti Region), Mr E.K.T. Addo (Central Region), Mr Bede Ziedeng (Upper West Region), and Mr Alhassan Azong (Minister at the Presidency).
Chairman of the committee in an interview hinted that five other persons to serve at the presidency would be vetted tomorrow.
He gave their names as: Dr Mustapha Ahmed, Alhaji Abdul Rashid Hassan Pelpuo, Mr Fifi Kwetey, Alhaji Lumina Mohammed Muniru and Mrs Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe Ghansah.
Source: ISD (Gilbert Ankrah and Richie Osei Asiedu)
Only 3% of persons with disability are literate
Available records from the United Nations Development Programme show that only three per cent of persons with disabilities are literate.
This means out of every 100 disabled persons only three of them have some form of education which hampers the level of development of every country and need to be addressed.
The Director of the Ghana Blind Union, Dr. Peter Obeng Asamoah, revealed this at 56th Annual Speech and Prize-Giving Day of the Okuapemman School at Akropong in the Eastern Region.
He has therefore stressed on the need for inclusive education for all segments of person through the provision of equal access to education to curb menace.
This year’s speech and prize giving day was on the theme “Inclusive Education: A tool for National Development”. Delivering a paper on the theme, the Director of the Ghana Blind Union, Dr. Obeng Asamoah noted that, education is a fundamental human right of every child which calls for the need for everyone to be carried along the process to achieve its full potentials.
He said quality education must be provided for all children irrespective of their intellectual, physical or social conditions through equal access to educational facilities and resources.
Dr. Obeng Asamoah said persons with disabilities should also be provided the same set of opportunities and avenues as given to their able counterparts for self development.
Good inclusive system of education, Dr. Asamoah noted, acknowledges the fact that all children are capable of learning and educational facilities are made to meet the needs of all the children.
Dr, Asamoah lamented over the fact that people with disabilities especially the blind are marginalized in the society and are denied leadership positions.
Citing an event which occurred during his school days as example, Dr. Asamoah said a colleague was forced to step down his position as an Assistant School prefect just because he was blind.
He also bemoaned the huge sums of money paid by some corporate entities to sponsor events which has less impact on the development of the country which could have been use to create enabling environment for persons with disabilities.
Dr. Obeng Asamoah stressed on the need for persons with disabilities to be equipped with the teaching and learning of ICT to enable them compete favourable in this technology era.
The Headmaster of the School, Daniel Afari, said the school has despite its challenges chalked successes in education, discipline and sports.
He said the school recorded hundred percent in 20012 WASSCE and maintained enviable records in sports.
Mr. Afari mentioned, the late completion of the school’s it science resource centre bad roads leading to the school as the major challenges of the school.
He therefore appealed to government and stakeholders to come to their aid.
Disability Commission launched
The National Commission for Persons with Disability (NCPD) was launched on Tuesday at the Atlantic hall of the National Stadium.
The One Family People (OFP), a non-governmental organisation working on disability issues, has been pivotal in the establishment of the Commission.
The Chairman of the launching, Dr. Arthur D. O. Wright said “we are here to witness the birth of a new beginning in our community”. He said disability issues and the question of having a Commission was something that has occupied the minds of many.
In this light, the Chairman commended all the former Ministers of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs, and the Ministers of Health and Sanitation for their assistance and devotion on disability issues.
Chairman and Chief Commissioner for the Commission, Frederick J. M. Kamara, said that it has been a long process and issues pertaining to persons with disability have always been at the backburner.
He said that people with disability have been pushed aback, and they are never considered to be at the top. The Commissioner said that they have ratified a number of instruments of issues pertaining to persons with disability, such as the convention on persons with disability, the child protection commission and other various instruments, which have strived to protect the rights of persons with disability and Sierra Leone has signed some of these instruments.
Kamara went further to say that with the President in power, disability issues will now be prominent and not be sent aback.He therefore committed himself and said that he will make sure that the disabled are not marginalized in the society. He also said that he will knock on all doors and will get through all obstacles.
The Deputy Minister of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs, Mustapha Bai Atilla said that they are in a jubilant mood, as they are launching the long-awaited commission of persons with disability, just a little above one year after the enactment of the disabled Act.
He said that he is indeed proud of the progress made so far and there is still much to be done, as persons with disability deserve more.
This progress would have been far-fetched without the contribution of their able partners.
Atilla said that the ministry is thrilled to have them all there in the historic gathering.
Deputy Minister expressed profound appreciation to the President, for having a keen interest for persons with disability with the establishment of the commission of persons with disability.
In his keynote address, the representative of the President, Dr. Sheku Kamara said that persons with disability should live a normal life, as an able person and must have access to health care, transport and all other facilities that an able person has access to.
Persons with disability also have right and must have full participation to the country’s development and disability does not imply inability as each of us is prone to disability. The commission, he said, needs to work closely with people and other stakeholders, as it will help a lot.
He also formally launched the commission.
Statements were also made by the representative of the ERSG, Beatrice Balbin, Chief Human Right Officer UNIPSIL.
By Nancy Koroma
Viana administration hands over wheelchairs to disabled dancers
Luanda - The administrator of Viana municipality, Jose Moreno, handed over on Thursday, wheelchairs to disabled dancers of Twabichila carnival group, Angop has learnt.
Rafael Jose and Mario de Jesus that paraded at the Luanda marginal avenue, accompanying the mentioned group dancing on squatting expressed joy and thanked the gesture of the local administration.
Meanwhile, a press note from provincial board of assistance and social action delivered to Angop, the act is part of the guidance of the provincial Governor, Bento Bento, to assist these two members of Uniao Twabichila carnival group.
The group participated in the carnival of class B. It was created on April 14, 2010.
Angola: Lwini Foundation Assists 300 Disabled
15 FEBRUARY 2013
Angola: Poet Antonio Goncalves to Present...
Aid and Assistance
Sudan: Machar Leads Humanitarian Delegation...
Malanje - The Lwini Foundation delivered Friday locomotion means to the provincial Departments of Social Welfare (Minars), Health, and Ammiga and Anda to benefit 300 physically handicapped and war-disabled in northern Malanje province.
Among the means stress went to 100 crutches for adults and the same number for children, 80 wheelchairs, 10 tricycles and 10 walkers.
The means were delivered by the Executive Director of the Foundation Lwini, Alfredo Ferreira, who expressed satisfaction over the organisation of departments and association involved in assistance to the handicapped and war-disabled.
The provinces of Bengo, Benguela and Cabinda also benefited from assistance of Lwini Foundation this year.
Disabled people denounce draft Constitution
on February 16, 2013 at 6:30 pm
118 74 13 14
By Samuel Takawira
With the dates for the referendum already set by the government, people living with disabilities have denounced the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (COPAC) Draft Constitution saying it does not address their plights.
Disabled activists addressing a press conference held in the capital from left to right ,Yeukai Mazhawidza, Abraham Mateta ,Kudzai Shava, Masimba Kuchera and Rowdy Gift MabhaudhiThis was revealed at a press conference held yesterday. Abraham Mateta, an activist for the right of the disabled, queried the COPAC draft constitution over its neglect of disability issues.
“The draft constitution has not properly captured disability; the state is obliged to recognise the right of people with disabilities. A proper constitution must be drafted from a rights based rather than an elitist approach, there is no empowerment of the disabled and we still feel that we are being oppressed,” said Mateta.
Kudzai Shava an activist representing the disabled concurred with Mateta by saying that the draft constitution is elitist in nature and does not cater for the needs of the disabled people.
The five member delegation of the disabled activists who addressed the press conference called on the government to develop programs consistent with capabilities of persons with disabilities and acceptable to them and their legal representatives.
Masimba Kuchera who is visually impaired said the government should craft conditions that corrode the sidelining of the disabled in workplaces.
“We have a serious problem when it comes to workplaces and I’m sure we all know that we are now living in a world in which people with disabilities should be included in all developmental programs hence government should enshrine our concerns in the Constitution.
The COPAC draft does not adequately provide for the rights of the disabled due to the fact that there was no representative of people with disabilities at the highest level of the constitution making process.” said Kuchera.
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Zuma mum about disability
Sat, 16 Feb 2013
President Jacob Zuma missed the opportunity to address disability issues during his state-of-the-nation address, Disabled People SA (DPSA) said on Friday.
"The Sona [state-of-the-nation address] sets the tone for government and presents indeed the 'state of the nation'," DPSA national chairman Robert Masambo said in a statement.
"We had therefore expected far more than we received from a president who is very well conversant with our plight."
Masambo said DPSA did not just want disability grants, but independence for disabled people.
DPSA and Zuma met twice last year.
In the meetings, DPSA had raised issues such as low levels of skills and education in the disability sector, the unemployment rate, compromised safety and security, economic participation and transport, said Masambo.
DPSA hoped the detail missed in Zuma's speech would find space in the budget vote.
Scant help for South Sudan’s disabled
Photo: Hannah McNeish/IRIN
Disabled and down-and-out
JUBA, 18 February 2013 (IRIN) - Tens of thousands of people disabled by shrapnel and landmines during South Sudan’s two-decade-long war with Sudan and thousands more disabled through disease and accidents are struggling to find support in Africa’s newest country, where proper healthcare and funding are in short supply.
An estimated 50,000 people in South Sudan are physically disabled, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Aside from the Sudan People's Liberation Army's (SPLA) "wounded heroes" programme, which provides a small stipend to ex-combatants, there are scant services for South Sudan's disabled, say staff at the Sudan Disabled Rehabilitation and Development Agency (SDRDA) in Rumbek, capital of Lakes State.
"People with disabilities are being discriminated [against at all stages] of life, at household decision-making levels and with public services... They are left behind, actually, like for clothing, even food," said SDRDA Director Hakim Cipuonyuc.
"If she has grown up, sometimes you see few people have the desire to have social relations [with her]. And when she gets pregnant, no one has the desire to marry her," Cipuonyuc said. "She is just left that with that kid and no one takes responsibility [or] care of that child."
Cipuonyuc's colleague John Maker said, "Most of the disabled are illiterate. They are not educated. They don't know their rights even, so they don't have a voice to raise their concerns in the community."
"Some of them end up [committing] suicide... as they are not considered in the family, in the community," he added.
SDRDA's awareness officer, David Kuac, himself disabled by polio, says that in the culture of the Dinka people - South Sudan's dominant ethnic group - there are often "bad attitudes towards people with disabilities".
"First, when a child with a disability is in the family, that family calls that child a curse from God, maybe as something that has been done wrong by the parents," he said. "The child is kept indoors so that he or she is not seen, and stays there until dying or just suffering there without the notice of the government or the entire community."
"I used to go and defecate at a nearby place [where] people would [be able to] look at me - like children and my wife [could see], as I couldn't get anywhere else," said Manyang Ader, describing the conditions faced by those with disabilities.
Adler’s leg had to be amputated following a buffalo attack. "I'd just stay in one place as I couldn't get around, and I wouldn't be able to do any kind of job - I just crawled around and didn't bring anything to the family," he said.
Even those few disabled people with good educations or vocational training are reportedly passed over for jobs.
There is discrimination within the disabled community, as well. "Those who were wounded in the war, they discriminate against the ‘natural’ disabilities [of those] who have acquired disabilities through diseases," Kuac said. "They discriminate against us, the naturally disabled, saying we did not do anything to liberate South Sudan.
"That was even the reason we formed SDRDA, so that we can work for the naturally disabled, and the government can work for those hurt during the war,” he added. SDRDA was founded 10 years ago as the only charity aiming to help disabled civilians.
Disabled ex-combatants received educations and small salaries. The SPLA also took advantage of the first phase of South Sudan's disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation (DDR) programme to provide some 12,000 disabled veterans with support.
But former soldiers say the army’s programme still has a long way to go.
"The salary is not enough for their children, most of whom are not even in education," said SDRDA's Cipuonyuc.
Nathan Wojia Pitia, director general of the Ministry of Social Welfare, says that there is a commission for war widows and orphans and wounded heroes, providing "low [cost] housing estates for the survivors", as well as a DDR Commission that deals with disabled veterans.
Photo: Hannah McNeish/IRIN
War injuries continue as tension between South Sudan and Sudan remain high (file photo)
"DDR is also training the people with disabilities, especially the war wounded. And they are training them in economic as well as income generation skills, so that they are ready to do their own business after demobilization."
Pitia said his ministry's strategic plan for 2013 aims to cater to all disabled people, not just veterans: "Previously there was nothing like that... We thought we needed to mainstream it."
In mid-February, the government laid the foundation for a school outside Juba for deaf and blind students. It is calling on international NGOs to help with teachers and materials such as Braille books and abacuses.
Pitia stressed the need for a broad policy covering disability issues.
"You can't do anything unless you have legislation - the policy for legislation must come on board… Just like women and children, disabled people are fighting for their rights," he said.
Currently the only official documents refer to people "with special needs", which is not sufficient, Pitia said. He added that there is need for services to move from urban centres like Juba to the rest of the country.
"The place is so vast - you can't afford every time to bring people from places like Upper Nile [State, along the border with Sudan] to Juba," he said.
But the government is strapped for cash; in January 2012, following a dispute with Sudan over oil transit fees, South Sudan shut down oil production - which accounted for 98 percent of its revenues. Without this income, no one believes the government will be able to provide services to the disabled, let alone basic health or education services to the rest of the population.
Until its programmes are up and running, the government will continue to rely on aid from organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which treated people throughout the war and opened up a centre for amputees in Juba in 2008.
The ICRC has treated over 2,000 physically disabled people in South Sudan and provided 1,000 people with physiotherapy. It has also fitted more than 400 artificial limbs for amputees, along with hundreds of orthotic devices such as back and leg braces, crutches, sticks and wheelchairs.
Another NGO, Medical Care Development International (MCDI), with funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), ran a centre in Rumbek from 2005 to 2009, registering over 2,000 people.
But when MCDI pulled out and handed services to the government, the clinic fell into disrepair. Now, ICRC is trying to rebuild the centre and wade through the case notes of those who have waited years for artificial limbs.
ICRC prosthetist Gerald Fitzpatrick said, "2,262, that's a lot of people that were serviced before [people who had been MCDI patients, some of whom will need prosthetic limbs] - that's enormous. Hopefully, with a slow start, we can start addressing all these patient files.”
ICRC's centres and surgical teams will also have to keep up with the flow of newly wounded.
In South Sudan's first year of statehood, "109 casualties from landmines and ERW were recorded, with the actual number likely to be higher due to underreporting”, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its 2013 appeal.
Around a third of ICRC's clients who have received an artificial limb over the past four years were landmine victims. Tensions with Sudan over oil and borders remain high, and demining agencies say militias - which South Sudan alleges are backed by Sudan - are laying new mines as quickly as old ones are being removed.
Still, those lucky enough to receive treatment say their lives are vastly improved.
"I spent a long time not using my legs. I'm very happy now that people have come up with this artificial limb," said Ader, who now works as the amputee centre's night watchman and tends to his farm during the day.
"Those without legs, their lives are not good at all. People like me who have a new leg - their lives are complete, they are free," he said.
Nigeria: NASS, Pass Violence Against Persons Bill Now!
BY THEODORA OBY NWANKWO, 19 FEBRUARY 2013
If laws do not provide adequate safeguards against sexual and gender-based violence it will be perpetrated with impunity.
Rape is defined as the invasion of any part of the body of the victim or of the perpetrator with a sexual organ, or of the anal or genital opening of the victim with any object or any other part of the body by force, threat of force, coercion, taking advantage of a coercive environment, or against a person incapable of giving genuine consent. Rape can be perpetrated by any person in a position of power, authority and control, including husband, intimate partner or caregiver.
Child sexual abuse, defilement and incest constitute any act where a child is used for sexual gratification. Any sexual relations/interaction with a child and can be perpetrated by someone the child trusts, including parent, sibling, extended family member, friend or stranger, teacher, elder, leader or any other caregiver, anyone in a position of power, authority and control over a child.
Rape, sexual assault, and stalking are matters of serious concern - not only because of the physical, emotional and psychological trauma which they engender in the victim, but also because these are practices which are being tolerated by a society ostensibly claiming the rule of law.
It is on record that rape is on the increase in Nigeria and no single day passes without reports in the newspapers and online, about incidents of rape. Rape victims are on the increase with many of the rapes occurring in homes, schools, on the roads, in uncompleted houses/structures, and all over our towns and villages. Infants, children, young girls, married women and elderly women are among the victims. Gang rape by groups of armed men is also on the increase and more deaths resulting from rape especially gang rapes are being reported. According to a recent poll in Nigeria, almost three in 10 Nigerians claim to know a rape victim, with stigmatisation cited as the main reason many rape cases go unreported.
What are the causes of the recent explosion of rape cases in Nigeria and in other countries?
The root causes of sexual and gender-based violence lie in a society's attitudes towards and practices of gender discrimination, which place women in a subordinate position in relation to men. The lack of social and economic value for women and women's work and accepted gender roles perpetuate and reinforce the assumption that men have decision-making power and control over women. Through acts of sexual and gender-based violence, whether individual or collective, perpetrators seek to maintain privileges, power and control over others.
Gender roles and identities are determined by sex, age, socio-economic conditions, ethnicity, nationality and religion. The disregard for or lack of awareness about human rights, gender equity, democracy and non-violent means of resolving problems help perpetuate these inequalities.
Some have argued that women attract rape to themselves by their indecent dressing exposing their bodies. Swaziland recently banned mini dresses because it's one of the causes of rape. The attempt to pass a similar law in Nigeria by a Senator a few years ago met with strong resistance. I hold the strong view that rape can never be justified on these flimsy reasons. A look at the nature of cases reported recently show that infants have been raped and women over 70 years have been raped. The Opi Nsukka case of mass rapes of women over 70 years proves that the way a woman dresses is not an excuse to rape. Women with disabilities especially women who are mentally retarded are victims of rape and sexual assault.
A 4 year old girl was raped and her account of the incident to her father shows that serious and drastic action needs to be taken by law enforcement, our social services, parents, etc. to stem this tide. She said to her father: 'Uncle Onye put his wiwi in my ansarot and urinated on me." By "urinating", she meant ejaculating.
Two men were arraigned before the Court for allegedly raping a woman afflicted with Down syndrome in the midnight of July 10, 2010
and the Police Command paraded a 21-year-old for allegedly having carnal knowledge of an 18-year-old deaf and dumb.
What is of great concern too is that very young boys are more and more getting involved in this dastardly act. A 16-year-old boy defiled a nine-year-old schoolgirl, who was on her way home from school in company of her friends. The doctor's report indicated that the victim suffered some lacerations on her private part and her hymen was broken.
A 63-year-old man, attempted to defile a two year old girl in his room.
The suspect, who is old enough to be the victim's great-grandfather, allegedly lured her into his room, stripped her and was struggling to penetrate into her before he was caught. This could not have been because of what she was wearing.
A 15-year-old girl was allegedly raped and impregnated by the 40-year-old welder who is supposed to be a family friend. Her story was published in the Punch Newspapers along with her photograph. He held her tightly, covered her mouth with clothes and tied her with ropes before violently raping her. According to her, because she had not had sex before, she had bruises and blood covered her private part.
In another gang rape development, a 13-year-old girl, a Junior Secondary School student was reportedly invited into one of the suspects' apartment. While there, the owner of the apartment a married man with five children, whose family was away, had carnal knowledge of her, alongside his two friends. She was, thereafter, instructed not to tell anyone and also threatened to kill her if she did. She was later confirmed pregnant, at 13 years!
A more pathetic case is that of 18 year old Esegi, who was gang-raped to death in a shop in 2012 in Yenagoa. The report said that she was violently tortured and raped to death by unknown persons in broad daylight. Another lady believed to be in her early twenties was raped to an unconscious state by four men in Warri, Delta State. It is not yet clear whether she survived tit or not.
Rape is widespread and has been reported in all states of the federation included Abuja the FCT. In November 2012, a woman was drugged in a taxi, abducted and raped and threatened with blackmail by her abductor.
The church is not exempted from this epidemic. A 42-year-old pastor of a white garment church who allegedly raped a 12-year-old foster daughter of his neighbour was arraigned before a Magistrate's Court, in Lagos.
Rape is very barbaric especially when the perpetrator is one's spouse. Yet it is not a crime in the Nigeria's legal system, as culturally, a typical Nigerian woman is often seen as the husband's property and he can deal with that property as he wishes. As long as she is legally married to her husband, she cannot be raped. The Penal Code specifically excludes "sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife" from the definition of rape, so long as she has attained puberty.
Rape in other parts of the world
Civil society organisations are calling on President Jacob Zuma to establish a commission of inquiry into sexual violence and to also set-up a special fund aimed at ending the increasing incidence of sexual violence in the country, following the brutal gang rape and murder of 17-year old, Anene Booysen, which continues to make news headlines around the world. She was buried a few days ago.
Horrific, violent attacks on women including rape in the vicinity of Tahrir Square in Egypt have been reported. Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault (OpAntiSH/A), an initiative set up by a number of Egyptian human rights organisations and individuals, received reports of 19 cases of violent attacks against women on 25 January 2013 in the vicinity of Tahrir Square.
Recently a woman who was gang raped in New Delhi, India died from injuries sustained. The 17 year old girl who was gang raped in South Africa also died.
Also the horrendous gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey resulting in an uprising of students and concerned citizens in Delhi and the rest of India.
Factors Responsible for Epidemic
Failure of good governance is the obvious root cause for the current unsafe environment eroding the rule of law; lack of adequate laws on violence against women as well negative attitudes towards women.
Attitudinal changes to correct the aberration of gender bias have to be brought about in the institutions of governance including the courts. There is need to improve the work culture, and in civil society to improve the social norms for realising the constitutional promise of 'equality' in all spheres for the womenfolk. Focus on the machinery for implementing the laws is, therefore, a significant part of this exercise.
The duty of the State, therefore, is to provide a safe environment at all times for women, who constitute half the nation's population; and failure in discharging this public duty renders it accountable for the lapse. The State's role is not merely reactive to apprehend and punish the culprits for their crimes; its duty is also to prevent the commission of any crime to the best of its ability. Crimes against women are an egregious violation of several human rights demanding strict punishment with deterrence to prevent similar crimes in future by the likeminded.
Very few convictions of perpetrators have been recorded and in these few cases, punishment has been appalling.
Victims/survivors of sexual and gender-based violence are at high risk of severe health and psycho-social problems, sometimes death, even in the absence of physical assault. The potential for debilitating long-term effects of emotional and physical trauma should never be underestimated.
Understanding the potential consequences of sexual and gender-based violence will help actors to develop appropriate strategies to respond to these after effects and prevent further harm.
There are serious and potentially life threatening health outcomes with all types of sexual and gender-based violence including Homicide, suicide, maternal mortality, infant mortality and AIDS-related mortality. In non-fatal situations outcomes include acute physical injury, shock, disease, infection, disability, chronic infections, chronic pain, gastrointestinal problems, unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, STIs, including HIV/AIDS, menstrual disorders, pregnancy complications, gynaecological disorders, etc.
Emotional and psychological consequences include post traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, fear, anger, shame, insecurity, self-hate, self-blame, mental illness, suicidal thoughts, etc.
Some of the unfortunate social consequences are blaming the victim/survivor, social stigma, social rejection and isolation and increased gender inequality. Most societies in Nigeria tend to blame the victim/survivor. This social rejection results in further emotional damage, including shame, self-hate and depression. As a result of the fear of social stigma, most victims/survivors never report the incident. Indeed, most incidents of sexual and gender-based violence go unreported.
If national laws do not provide adequate safeguards against sexual and gender-based violence, or if practices in the judicial and law enforcement bodies are discriminatory, this kind of violence can be perpetrated with impunity.
Community attitudes of blaming the victim/survivor are often reflected in the courts. Many sexual and gender-based crimes are dismissed or guilty perpetrators are given light sentences. The punishment meted out to perpetrators constitutes another violation of the victim's/survivor's rights and freedoms, such as in cases of forced marriage to the perpetrator. The emotional damage to victims/survivors is compounded by the implication that the perpetrator is not at fault.
The victim/survivor is insecure, threatened, afraid, unprotected and at risk of further violence. If police and security workers are not sensitive to the victim's/survivor's needs for immediate care, dignity and respect, further harm and trauma may result because of delayed assistance or insensitive behavior.
The starting point in dealing with this epidemic is to put in place adequate laws with adequate punishment. The Violence against the Persons Bill has been pending in the National Assembly since 1999. Passage of this bill which would not only protect rape victims but equally provide protection for victims of violence including physical, sexual, psychological, domestic, harmful traditional practices and discrimination.
The bill seeks to stiffen punishment for rape as perpetrators get away with light punishment as light as 2 months' imprisonment with option of fine. If this bill is passed and it is properly implemented by the law enforcement agencies and courts, perpetrators would think twice before committing rape because they can go to jail for life.
If a larger number of victims come out boldly to report such incidents and ensure a follow-up, then there would be diligent prosecution. If victims are sure that perpetrators will be punished they will be more disposed to report the cases.
Letting perpetrators get away with sexual harassment and assault has fuelled violent attacks against women in recent months - continued impunity will only lead to further crimes.
Stigmatisation of victims is largely responsible for the culture of silence. Society needs to be sensitised to understand that stigma has contributed a lot to the increase of rapes in the society and they have a role to play in reducing the incidences of rape.
Rape should be taken quite seriously by everyone. Rape is degrading, demeaning, and demoralising. The incidence of rape in Nigeria has been on the increase over the years, but it is now much worse. Lawlessness and injustice seem to have taken over in Nigeria. The courts have to be more proactive in dealing with rape cases to curb the impunity that is taking over in Nigeria.
A proper investigation and documentation of the prevalence of sexual violence is needed. Police officers should ensure proper investigation of and prosecution of rape cases will go a long way in discouraging perpetrators from committing rapes and indecent assault.
The case of the Nigerian Army dismissing four soldiers attached to the Brigade of Guards for raping some women and extorting money from them in Abuja last month is a good example of proactive handling of such cases.
The errant soldiers raped some women, including a married woman on December 18, 19 and 20, last year and extorted money from the victims at River Plate Park, close to the Federal Character Commission, Central Business District, Abuja. The National Human Rights Commission had petitioned the authorities of the Nigerian Army and the Police to fish out those behind the dastardly act.
Mrs. Nwankwo is Nigeria's representative at the United Nations Committee on Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
Uganda: HIV Prevention Strategy Ignores Disabled Persons
BY SHIFA MWESIGYE, 19 FEBRUARY 2013
In part six of our series on disability policies, done in partnership with the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda, Shifa Mwesigye explores the implementation of Uganda's HIV Prevention Strategy.
Ronald Kasule looked exhausted as he wheeled himself into a conference room at the Le Meridien President hotel in Dakar, Senegal, in December 2011. The man, who has multiple disabilities in his hands and legs, had arrived to present a paper on the sexual rights of persons with disabilities.
When he spoke, he left many in tears not only because he expressed his dissatisfaction with the organisers, who put a session on persons with disabilities (PWDs) on the third floor, which is not easily accessible. He is particularly critical of disability-blind interventions, for instance regarding sexual and reproductive health information.
"People think that because we are disabled we are also asexual and we do not have sexual urges, feelings and fantasies," Kasule says. "PWDs are forcefully sterilised by their relatives without their knowledge. Why are people with disabilities denied a chance to sexual reproductive health services?"
While Uganda has policies demanding inclusion of PWDs in sexual and reproductive health services (SRHs), Kasule says the government has not ensured that these policies are implemented in the communities and by health workers in health centres.
"They look at us as aliens when we demand contraceptives or seek sexual health services," he says.
Yet PWDs are vulnerable to rape or unsafe sex because they cannot negotiate safe sex. Some communities have myths that when an HIV-positive person sleeps with a disabled person, they will be cleansed of the virus. PWDs with HIV are more stigmatised and marginalised by relatives and friends who abandon them.
Husbands leave their wives and relatives advise them to return to the village to spare the family transport costs upon death. Yet they still have a chance of living decent, positive lives. The National HIV Prevention Strategy for Uganda does not address PWDs issues on prevention, diagnosis or treatment of HIVS/Aids anywhere in its 57 pages.
This is surprising, given that the strategy was drawn with plans to curb new HIV infections and create "a Uganda where new HIV infections are rare, and where everyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status has uninterrupted access to high quality and effective HIV prevention services free from stigma and discrimination."
Without sex education specifically designed for deaf and blind persons, they cannot get access to correct information to protect them. The overall goal of the strategy is to reduce new HIV infections by 30% based on the baseline of 2009. This would avert about 200,000 new infections over five years.
A report by the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (Nudipu) on the implementation of the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) points out flaws. It says that although PWDs are included in the policy framework on HIV/Aids, health workers and service providers still lack the appropriate skills and expertise to support PWDs living with HIV/Aids and therefore service delivery is discriminatory.
Even when they are accessible, condoms may not be properly used by PWDs as the instructions on the pack or expiry dates are not brailed to help the blind. The UNCRPD obliges government to provide health services in formats that are appropriate to the special needs of the PWDs and forbids discriminatory denial of health care on the basis of disability.
The convention requires that delivery of health services be the same type and range as that provided to other people. It also requires that PWDs are give full and informed consent on medical treatment. However, governments are specifically mandated to do more for PWDs to ensure equal access to health care than for other people.
Yet the Nudipu report says most health workers fail to respect privacy or address concerns such as accessible information materials, communication and physical accessibility. Most organisations dealing with HIV-related issues have no strategies to reach people with disabilities.
A Nudipu survey conducted in six districts estimates that over 100 people with disabilities in Uganda live with HIV/ Aids and that only 20% of these access HIV-related services, such as condoms and antiretrovirals. This leaves the other 80 per cent in dire need of HIV counselling and testing, condoms, ARVs and sex education on responsible sex life. Of all the disabled persons in Uganda, only 34% can read, leaving out 66% who are either blind or illiterate.
Disabled persons are classified under most-at-risk populations (Marps) in the strategy. Most-at-risk populations include sex workers, truck drivers and fishing communities. Penninah Mugume, the programme officer in charge of HIV and Disability at Nudipu, says this leaves issues of PWDs hidden if they are classified under the Marps.
"They don't plan and fund for disabled persons like they do for sex workers or truck drivers. They have not done research on issues of disabled persons and HIV. Indicators don't reflect issues of disability in a specific way and we are not happy," Mugume says.
Issues of prevention, care and treatment are not designed to suit the needs of PWDs. It gets even worse now that government plans to phase out community outreach sensitisation workshops that take health services closer to the people in villages.
"If you have a sensitisation meeting, where are the sign language interpreters to help deaf people get the message? If people have to go to health centres for services, PWDs have mobility problems and cannot move long distance," Mugume says. Yet the UNCRPD requires government to provide health services as close as possible to people's own communities, including in rural area; making it easier for PWDs to access.
The Nudipu report suggests that the Uganda AIDS Commission should introduce a disability self-coordinating body to strengthen comprehensive programming and implementation of disability-related matters in the commission. Mugume says HIV programmes ought to involve PWDs in outreaches, health education, mobilising other people so as to meaningfully involve them in the fight against HIV rather than leaving them to be recipients of services.
"PWDs are just treated as recipients who cannot do anything else that is meaningful. If I find a disabled person giving education talk and helping at the health centre, I will feel at home," Mugume says.
The Aids Support Organisation (TASO) piloted a project of supporting PWDs by employing Betty Kwagala, a PWD, on their counselling and treatment team in 2003. When she joined, TASO also trained five of their staff in sign language interpretation to ease communication with deaf persons. They also resolved to follow blind patients to their homes and involve their relatives in helping to give the patients the correct dosage.
"It has attracted PWDs to access services; therefore, they come for counselling and testing to know their sero status. Those who are found positive are enrolled for treatment and are included in the sustainable livelihood initiative as well as supporting their children," Kwagala says.
This approach has attracted the attention of the ministry of Health, and Uganda Aids Commission which consults TASO on their programme for HIV- positive PWDS. UAC alone nominated two people to join their technical working team to be involved in consultation when developing the National Strategic Plan for 2012-2013. More organisations are getting representation for PWDs.
This Observer feature was prepared with support from The National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (Nudipu).
Pupils ‘may miss KCPE’ over deaf school dispute
By NATION CORRESPONDENT
Posted Wednesday, February 20 2013 at 00:30
The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) withdrew teachers from the school in January “without providing an alternative centre for the children” leading to its closure.
Deaf pupils at a special school shut down due to a pending court case might be locked out of this year’s KCPE examination, a court heard on Tuesday.
The 150 pupils at the Tumutumu School for the Deaf want the court to order the government to reopen the school pending the determination of an ownership dispute involving the Education ministry, the Teachers Service Commission and the PCEA.
“They are challenging the government over its responsibility to protect vulnerable groups as enshrined in the Constitution,” lawyer June Ashioya told the court.
The pupils, through the Kenya Society for Deaf Children and Kenya Association of Parents of Deaf Children, moved to the High Court to have the State compelled to support and re-deploy teachers to the school.
The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) withdrew teachers from the school in January “without providing an alternative centre for the children” leading to its closure.
“While the children are at home, teaching is on-going in other schools. Even with the dispute in court, we seek an order that the children should be in school and resume learning. Their interest must be taken into consideration,” Ms Ashioya argued.
The PCEA, which has been summoned to court to shed light on the dispute, is accused of failing to register the institution as a public school, culminating into the withdrawal of teachers last year at the expiry of an interim order issued by a Nyeri court.
The court was told that the church donated its land to the school and has been receiving fees from the pupils.
On Tuesday, the court ordered TSC to present its argument on Monday when the case will be heard.
Zimbabwe: Minister Calls for Help for the Disabled
BY LEWIS TEMBO, 20 FEBRUARY 2013
The corporate world should support the disabled so that they have access to education and vocational skills training, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Minister of State in Vice President Joice Mujuru's office Sylvester Nguni said the disabled should not be marginalised as they can also contribute immensely to Zimbabwe's economy.
He was speaking in Mhondoro yesterday during the hand-over of physical rehabilitation equipment to St John Matarutse Primary School.
The equipment, valued at US$18 000, was donated by the Australian government. It included wheelchairs, physical rehabilitation equipment, computers and accessories.
"Disability does not mean inability. The fact that these pupils are disabled does not mean that they cannot do anything for the country," Minister Nguni said.
"We have to give the disabled necessary support especially in education for them to realise their potential."
The Mhondoro (Mubaira) legislator said the donation would go a long way in assisting the pupils.
"It is going to provide a platform for the pupils to discover their capabilities unbounded by their disabilities. It will improve the lives and learning environment of the beneficiaries," he said.
"The disabled, just like the able bodied, should also benefit from all the empowerment programmes being carried out by Government throughout the country. Stakeholders in the education sector should continue to adapt this humbling nature of contributing to those in need to ensure educational development in seemingly marginalised areas of the sector."
Australian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Matthew Neuhaus said the equipment would assist pupils understand important and necessary life skills that would allow them to fend for themselves. He said Australia would continue complementing efforts by the Zimbabwe in assisting the vulnerable and less privileged.
"We came to visit the school and noticed the need of rehabilitation equipment in the school's rehabilitation centre. We collectively (Australian government and the Anglican Church) decided to identify the rehabilitation centres' needs and offer what assistance we could," he said.
Church of the Province of Central Africa Harare Diocese leader Archbishop Chad Gandiya encouraged Zimbabweans to adopt the spirit of unity by giving back to their communities through assisting members who required support.
"God created us all differently and we should learn to assist each other in whatever way we can to improve each others livelihoods," he said.
Zimbabwe: Doctor Testifies in NMB Manager's Sodomy Case
20 FEBRUARY 2013
The trial of NMB manager accused of sodomising a 10-year-old deaf pupil from Emerald Hill School of the Deaf resumed on Monday with a Harare Hospital psychiatrist, Dr Dickson Chibanda, testifying.George Wekwete is being charged with aggravated indecent assault after he allegedly lured the pupil with food and clothes before he molested the boy.
The matter had been adjourned to Monday after the prosecution made an application to obtain a medical report from Dr Chibanda on the mental status of the 10-year-old boy. Dr Chibanda told the court that when he first attended to the boy before the allegations arose, he was a slow learner and had problems in focus and attention. He added that after working with him, the pupil progressed well. Dr Chibanda said that with time he started deteriorating and withdrawn.
"He now had symptoms of depression which he normally did not show," said Chibanda.
"He isolated himself from others, looked very disturbed and would always fall asleep. This problem worsened to an extent that he was admitted to a psychiatric unit for the first time. The report I got was that he had become isolated and was making sexual advances to other pupils at school," he said.
Dr Chibanda also said that during the boy's admission to the psychiatric ward, he continued to make sexual advances to others, a behaviour which is consistent with children who have been sexually abused.
Responding to the State's question if the boy was fit to give evidence, Dr Chibanda said that he was capable of testifying. He added that if the boy was to give evidence, the court must use the victim friendly unit.
During cross-examination by Wekwete's lawyer, Mr Admire Rubaya, Dr Chibanda said that the boy was now stable since he was under medication.
"When he is stable, he can give appreciation of things and even though he is a slow learner, that will not stop him from appreciating most things which might be helpful to the court," he said.
Magistrate Ms Fadzai Mthombeni is presiding over the trial. It is alleged that the boy first met Wekwete in July last year after sneaking out of the school premises to buy bread at Avondale Shopping Centre.
According to State papers, Wekwete took the boy to his house, where he molested him. He allegedly took the boy to the city centre after the act, where he bought him some clothes. The boy sneaked out of school on three other occasions going to Wekwete's house, it is alleged. The offence came to light after an official at Emerald Hill discovered that the boy was having difficulties in walking and was bringing food every time he sneaked out of school premises.
She took the boy to Avondale Clinic where he was referred to Family Support Clinic. At the clinic the doctor confirmed that the boy was sexually abused and a report was made and the 10-year-old led police to Wekwete's house. Mr Liberty Gono is appearing for the State.
Kenya: Parents Tipped On Disabled Kids
BY LYDIA NGOOLO, 21 FEBRUARY 2013
Parents in Migwani district have been asked to stop hiding disabled children since they have a right to education and socialisation.
"It is a pity to learn that many disabled children have been locked up in homes for fear of stigma. Having a disabled child is not one's wish," said Joseph Mulinde, leader of Migwani community youth group. He was speaking yesterday during a visit to AIC Migwani School for Disabled attended by 80 members of the group.
Denied jobs because of disability
Denied jobs because of disability
Publish Date: Feb 21, 2013
Mukembo with his children at the New Vision offices. His wife is pictured below (in red). PHOTO/Stella Nassunanewvision
By Stella Nassuna (firstname.lastname@example.org)
One fateful day 37 years ago, a three-month-old baby born with a disability in the limbs was dumped in the channel by his mother ? left to the mercy of the harsh open environment.
But hours later, a Good Samaritan in the form of heard the sharp wail of baby as she went about her stroll near the channel. It was the cry of young Rogers Mukembo.
The toddler was wrapped just in a piece of cloth and left for whoever cared. Nabirye picked him up and traveled back to Busoga land ? where she lived ? along with her.
Her sense of sympathy for the abandoned child might have been drawn from the fact that she was childless and never married then.
So she assumed the role of mother to Mukembo until he was of school-going age, before giving him up to the safety of a Dutch Father ? Fr. Raster ? who helped get him enrolled into school at Naminage Primary School in Kamuli and Kira College Butiki for his secondary studies.
Despite his difficult past, Mukembo knew better than to give up on life. He pledged admirable commitment towards his studies like any other school-going child with parents would.
“I dedicated most of my free time to studying hard, and when we got to our discussion group I always explained away the difficult study concepts,” he recalls.
In fact, most of the students he helped back in school during the group discussions are now current members of parliament.
At school, he forged a spirit of determination and hard work that directly translated into good grades. Never did he let himself be plunged into the realm of hopelessness over his realistic situation ? that he was disabled.
With the available resources, he climbed up the academic ladder of success, in which he joined university, acquired a degree in Social Sciences and doubled it with a diploma in Accounting.
After graduating in 2001, Mukembo did not get a job immediately yet unlike today, the competition for the available jobs in the market was not so stiff. During that time, graduating almost guaranteed an opportunity to land a job.
In 2002, he decided to start up a small business as a matooke [banana] vendor in St. Balikuddembe Market ? popularly known as Owino Market.“Starting up the business was not easy for me at all. I did not have the small money I needed to start up the business, so I had to wait for months to get my hands on sh20,000,” he remembers.
Later he had to meet the daily dues of the market. One day he had to dodge work because he did not have any money to pay to the authorities, who would prowl the market to collect fees.
After weeks of hard work, he managed to make a profit of sh5,000 daily from his business.
But two years down the road, Mukembo deemed that as a qualified graduate, he deserved a good-paying job. So he started buying newspapers to look for job adverts. His numerous applications were turned down because he was disabled.
Despite these rejections, he kept his candlelight of hope burning. He just was never ready to give up.
And his resilience to court the fairer end of hope finally paid off - and at a time when he had grown considerably accustomed to job rejection.
He was invited for an interview at Nserester Complex Vocational secondary school in Masaka for a placement as school bursar.
For his humility and determination, Mukembo faired through the interview and was given the job, which he started in 2005. And it was at the school that he had his first chance at love. He was plunged into an affair with then 19-year-old Sumaya Nalukwago, a canteen attendant in the neighborhood.
She is now his wife and mother to their four children.
Just when he thought things were moving in the direction he had always longed for, life took an unfair twist towards the end of 2008 when the he lost his job as bursar. Mukembo remembers that moment of his life as if it happened just yesterday.
He no longer had his job when the school director’s daughter took over his position. Harsh as it was, Mukembo knew better than to cry over spilled milk, and accepted to move on.
“The past five years have been the hardest years of my life, especially now that I have children to take care of, yet no one is willing to hire me even with my papers because of my disability.”
“I have a son who is of school-going age, but I cannot even afford to raise the money needed to buy him the needed scholastic materials since his fees are going to be taken care of by the school.
“I urge anyone who would love to help me, to contribute towards realizing my goal of being self employed by helping me raise about sh500,000 to help me start up a clothing business in Owino market that will help provide for my family.”
Disabled Liberian Writes President Sirleaf
Written by:EditorWritten on:February 21, 2013
Liberian President Sirleaf
To The President of Liberia
Her Excellence Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
C/O Dr. Edward B. McClain, Jr.
Minister of State & Chief of Staff
And/or Mr. Beyan Koto, NCD
Dear Madam President,
I, a Deaf Liberian in the United States want to first hand laud your administration for its second victory into office through a free and fair democratic election that was witnessed by the world. I also want to extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to you, Madam President for the numerous development projects your administration have undertaken since its birth and ascension into office and the tremendous development packages you laid out at your just ended annual message to the Liberian Public. I laud your effort and believe in strong governance and hard work. You’re putting into place a rule of law that can/will benefit all Liberians and Non-Liberians in and those visiting Liberia.
Madam President, after a couple years in the diaspora, I had the opportunity to visit Liberia last year 2012. It was great to return home and witnessed a lot of developments ongoing by your administration. Though I choose not to question your role of headship as The Commander in Chief of The Republic of Liberia, I favor not to make wrong judgments on claims I have heard which this letter addresses. Rather, I desire to ascertain, credibly, accurately unfolding stories told me by my deaf colleagues in Liberia ? since we as deaf people aim at working for the betterment of each other collectively. Thus, the purpose of this letter, Madam President is to ascertain issues and claims my aggravated deaf colleagues revealed to me that is affecting the National Commission on Disability and I choose to join my voice in advocating The Rights for the Deaf and request you through your administration to look into other areas that could be of developmental benefits to the deaf and disabled peoples in Liberia.
My deaf aggravated colleagues with some reliable source(s) who requested not to be mentioned by name cried to me with their voices through the use of Sign Language when I met them in 2012 and whose cries I continue to hear daily even since I returned to the United States. Their crying reveals and addresses the following issues which accuracy I’m still quizzing them on with regards to these three (3) directors you elected to head the National Commission on Disability (NCD) :(1) Mrs. Richarda Dennis, Executive Director of the NCD, (2) Mr. Myers R. Nifor, Deputy Director for Administration, and (3) Mr. Adrian Z, Sandi, Deputy Director for Technical Services at the NCD. The issues revealed and addressed to me by my deaf colleagues for whom this letter was/is written are as follow, Madam President:
As I stated earlier, though I’m still trying to ascertain the credibility of these unfolding information provided me by my deaf colleagues in Liberia stated to me that “Mr. Adrian Z. Sandi have worked for LPRC for thirty-three (33) consecutive years as Laboratory Demonstrator and was pensioned by LPRC in 2006. So they (the deaf) believe that Mr. Sandi is no longer qualified to work in or with another GOL agency while receiving GOL pension monies. Mr. Myers R. Nifor, too, is said to have worked for the Ministry for Health for forty (40) consecutive years and was also pensioned in 2006. He, too, as the deaf claimed is unqualified to work for another GOL agency. Besides, Mr. Nifor is not a disabled individual.” Furthermore, it was disclosed to me by my aggravated deaf colleagues in Liberia that “funds provided by GOL and NGOs to finance trainings programs and scholarships for the deaf and disabled are not fully, barely, or rarely being used adequately to meet the needs and perhaps wants of these struggling eager-to-learn deaf and disabled peoples for which the funds were given.
My deaf colleague’s complaints further that the name listed directors are making themselves rich with these funds given them by collecting huge monthly salaries, huge allowances, and huge gas slips while some of them are said to have no vehicle. On top of this mismanagement and misappropriation of GOL and Non-GOL funds, some or a certain member of the directors constantly labeled the deaf and or disabled peoples as ‘Uneducated peoples.”
But from my prospective, I believe if the funds for educational purpose given the NCD directors to educate the peoples in the community you commission them to serve, these struggling eager-to-learn deaf and disabled were used for the intended purpose adequately, the deaf and disabled will definitely be educated. So, who take the blames here for names calling, if this claim is ascertain? The deaf and disabled or the three (3) directors whom you bestowed constitutional headship on to fully implement their roles?
My aggravated deaf colleagues complaint, again, furthers that “because of three (3) name listed directors bad or poor mismanagement and misappropriation of administration monies and its financial resources, many of the programs that were instructed by GOL and NGOs to served the deaf and disabled community can barely or rarely be funded to fully satisfy and meet the needs and perhaps wants o f the deaf and disabled.”
Madam President, you stated that Liberia “Will Rise” which I strongly believe. But if the complaints leveled against the three (3) name listed director at the NCD in this letter from my aggravated deaf colleagues to me are accurate, my concern is, how can Liberia rise when the rising of Liberia depends wholly and solely on the molding of the minds of our young men and women ? deaf and disabled alike- But provisions for molding their minds of these individual through education is in the hands and enjoy by just a few.
Madam President, as I learned that you have dispatched and appointed certain members of your staff to investigate the issues hanging over the NCD. If these complaints are credible and found to be accurate, with our voices through this letter, we are humbly asking you to please used the constitutional power vested into you and replaced the above name directors at the NCD with those who intend will be “For the Peoples” - The Deaf and Disabled community.
Madam President, if the need calls for it, I believe like me, I, and perhaps some or many of the Deaf Liberian in the United States will be happy to fill in positions and work in/at the NCD to bring in a new productive development incentives and new ways and means that will be in the best interest of the deaf and disabled community in Liberia. Because I strongly believe that agency like NCD should be spearheaded by peoples who have vast and farsighted knowledge in disabilities than those who have little and/or lacks the knowledge. Should the need call for it, Madam President, and you give me and or us in the United States the green light, mandates, and opportunities to work at the NCD, I (we)’ll be more than happy to do so.
With my belief in strong governance, hard work, diligence I (we) yearn to see a new NCD wherein deaf and disabled people alike will be treated justly, fairly, and equally. I (we) yearn also to see a new Liberia not just of infrastructures and roads, but for the most part of the molding of the minds through whatever sort of legal education for the young men and women ? deaf and disabled peoples alike - no matter age, race, carrier status, disability, wealth etc.
There are a lot of areas as I witnessed during my just gone visit to Liberia within the deaf and disabled community the NCD should concentrate on but I believe they are not tickling these areas adequately.
As an example, Madam President, interpreters are very useful and needed to/by deaf peoples. Why? Because interpreters provide smooth communication between a deaf person and a non-deaf person. But from what I witnessed in Liberia during my just gone visit and continue to hear from my deaf colleagues and the head of the interpreters in Liberia, , the interpreter program(s) and interpreters in Liberia have little or no funds to empower the programs and provide skilled and qualified interpreters for the deaf ? And the other agency, The Liberia National Association for the Deaf, who also works with the deaf community, I don’t understand how they and the NCD are working to tickled these problems. For this and many other reasons, again, the deaf are left on their own, for themselves. In other words, should a deaf person, say, have an appointment or job interview, interpreters are barely or rarely willing to accommodate or accompany the said deaf individuals. Why? I want to believe is due to the fact that there is no one to finance the interpreter for his or her time worked. The NCD through the other agency mentioned above that spearhead the deaf community, I believe cannot or hardly provide funding for interpreter training and programs. Neither can the NCD through the other agency mentioned above that spearhead the deaf community cannot provide financial compensation for these hardworking interpreters work done for the deaf.
To support this clam, I visited few non-deaf learning institutions where deaf individuals attend. These said institutions are denying interpreters in classes to translate for deaf students’ to fully understand the lesson taught. And the NCD along with the other agency that serve the deaf community mentioned above are not doing much or nothing to resolve this kind of disheartening situation, making learning difficult for these eager-to-learn and brilliant peoples.
As a result, at the end of the day only the deaf individual suffers the setbacks. This area like many other areas within the deaf and disabled community fully needs an attention. I also want to believe, Madam President that the NCD as an umbrella or superior for the other agency that spearhead the deaf community may not be working collectively with honesty. The end result is that neither agencies, the NCD and The Liberia National Association for the Deaf can scarcely or seldom do little or nothing to resolved this kind of disheartening situations, making, again, learning very difficult for these energetic, brilliant, and eager-to-learn deaf young men and women.
v Deaf and /or disabled peoples, Madam President, have great potentials like their non-deaf brothers and sisters and even far better and far beyond. But these potentials and skills will never be seen or achieved by them if supports given them are not provided them honestly, freely, and fairly.
With the above stated, I also learned from my aggravated deaf colleagues during my recent visit that “University of Liberia president is denying deaf admittance to higher education.’ How ascertain and accurate this claim is, is what I’m still asking my colleagues. But if this claim is accurate, Madam President, then it is DISCRIMINATIVE!!
The day you ascended into the oval office, you spoke and continue to speak on GOVERNANCE -STRIONG GOVERNANCE. This is the kind of attitude we yearn and expect all officials of your administration to exhibit daily.
But my deaf colleagues disclosed to me that the three (3) name listed directors “are mismanagement and misappropriating GOL funds given them by purchasing expensive vehicles worth at $437, 000USD while these directors failed to provide adequate scholarships opportunities for the deaf and disabled in Liberia.”
In addition, the aggravated deaf disclosed to me that “that funds totaling $200,000USD given to the NCD directors last year from USAID for training programs for the deaf and disabled ? the said programs were hardly implemented and funds was mismanaged and misappropriated by the NCD directors mentioned in this letter by paying themselves huge salaries, huge gas slips for which some of them don’t even have a vehicle, and huge general allowances while they failed to provide salary increment for other NCD staffs.”
Besides, my aggravated deaf colleagues with my voice added is asking the GOL that if these claims outlined in this letter is credible and ascertain through you, Madam President, to remove these three (3) name listed directors off GOL budget for the NCD and they should be relieved of their post from the NCD indefinitely.
Indeed, Liberia can raise, Madam President, as you decreed but if only honesty reign; if only trust is obtain; if only people of all races, nationality/tribe, disabled and non-disabled alike are treated justly, fairly, and equally can Liberia rise, rise, rise to a better “Sweet Liberia” for all Liberians not only for those with lucrative jobs in Liberia.
With our voices through these written words, we are humbly asking you and your administration, Madam President, that should the need calls for it, we can/could fill in positions and the needs to move the NCD forward, using our good interpersonal skills in developing the minds of the deaf and disabled peoples in Liberia. Should the need call for it, Madam President, may your administration provide for our coming to Liberia to start at the NCD.
For I who composed these humble words of our feelings on behalf of us all - The Deaf and Disabled alike ? The Feelings of the deaf and disabled -, me, myself, I’m a hearing impaired (deaf) individual categorized as DISABLED. So, I’ve farsighted knowledge of what it feels and taste like when someone tends to hurt our brothers and sisters in the way they are aggravated by the claims agonist theses three (3) executives mentioned in this letter at the NCD. If the claims leveled against these directors are credible, ascertain and accurate, they have hurt the deaf and disabled community in Liberia. Why? Honestly, is because the deaf and disabled in Liberia pains are felt. Their hurts are felt… Their anguish is felt. Is unbearable to sit back and witness the deaf and disabled in Liberia enduring this betterment. While we witness deaf and disabled in developed countries enjoying a wide range of government and non-governmental opportunities that the deaf and disabled in Liberian may somewhat wants to enjoy, we are move to act in their behalf for somewhat this same opportunities with our written VOICES!!!
Madam President, we stand here today in the presence of this letter representing a people who are brilliant, who have great skills, great potentials, and great ambitions, who are productive and can bring productive developments to your government, that we’ll not keep silent, No, No, we’ll not rest or keep silent unless fairness and equality is serve the deaf and disabled in Liberia. We’ll not rest or keep silent until the deaf and disabled are given back their full right to fit into every working and societal environments of Liberia. We’ll not rest or keep silent unless we see a new day is brought to light for the deaf and disabled in Liberia. We’ll not rest or keep silent unless we see the deaf and disabled peoples in Liberia are serve equally like our non-deaf/disabled brothers and sisters, we’ll not rest or keep silent, Madam President till a new day, like The Old Negro spiritual, we all, deaf and disabled will utter these words “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty we are free at last.” Free from oppression, injustice, unfair treatments from those who you bestowed constitutional headship on to serve our community, greed, mismanagement and misappropriation, from all those unfitting behaviors that may have engulfed and infested the NCD like virus, we’ll not rest or keep silent till your administration bring about a new day at the NCD ? A day of ‘rejoicing for all of God’s children.” Yes! The deaf and disabled in Liberia need their freedom; they need their right, equality, fair treatment from those you bestowed constitutional headship on. They need an equally educated place in every working and societal environments of Liberia. Our VOICES will continue to be heard through writing, Madam President.
Madam President, this right will not fully be obtained unless your administration puts into an ACT of law for deaf people ? A constitutional ACT that gives them equal right into every working and societal environmental aspect of Liberia/Liberians days-to-day’s activities.
Madam President, if the claims by my aggravated colleagues stated in this letter is credible, ascertain and accurate that which is hanging over the NCD is being resolved, we’re also humbly asking you to look into the following issues and areas and please request your administration to include in the budget for the NCD compensations for hardworking interpreters in Liberia and to also provide trainings incentives for them. In addition, we humbly ask that you make provisions for deaf and disabled who aim at obtaining higher education at the University of Liberia or any other institution of higher learning in Liberia to gain an easy admittance; adequate job training programs, hand-on-start programs for the deaf and disabled to equip them for future employment.
Mr. Dominic B. Wah Sr
A Deaf Liberia in America
Studying and Majoring in: Administration of Justice/Criminal Justice at Delaware County Community College, PA
Mr. Dominic B. Wah Sr
A Liberia Deaf in America
Written By: Mr.. Dominic Wah Sr On behalf of all Those Categorized as Deaf AND/OR DISABLED in Liberia.
Tanzania: ZOP Gives Hope to Deaf Children in Zanzibar
BY ISSA YUSSUF, 21 FEBRUARY 2013
Zanzibar - THE majority of more than 3,500 deaf people in Zanzibar are children, who urgently need help and education. Unfortunately, most parents still hide the children because of their poor notion that the deaf cannot learn.
Mr Juma Abdurahman, chairperson of the Zanzibar Association for the Deaf (JUVIZA) says there are many deaf children still at home just because the parents have not taken the issue of education seriously.
"I think most parents with deaf children lack knowledge about the importance of educating their children with hearing impairment.
We need to increase awareness and encourage them to make sure that all children go to school," said Juma through his sign language expert. Juma's concerns are similar to the 'Zanzibar Outreach Programme (ZOP)' officers, who have decided to establish a 'School of the Deaf and Post-Hearing-Aid Rehabilitation Centre,' on the outskirts of Zanzibar municipality. The centre also known as 'ZOP academy' is now fully operational and is asking parents with deaf children to register their children free of charge so that children with hearing disability are helped to get at least basic education.
Zanzibar Outreach Programme (ZOP) is a Non- Governmental Organization founded in September 2006 by a group of Zanzibaris dedicated to improving the community's access to health care, clean water and education. The 'ZOP academy' or 'School of the Deaf and Post-Hearing-Aid Rehabilitation Centre,' was officially opened on Tuesday on February 12, 2013 by the Director of Secondary Education from Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, Ms Khadija Ali, who appealed to parents to use the opportunity.
"We need all children including those with disabilities in the islands to get education, to make our achievement of universal education a reality. We cannot boast of the achievement when many children with disabilities including the deaf have not attended school," Khadija said. The director said that her ministry is happy with the establishment of the ZOP academy and that the centre would help many deaf children in the islands.
She advised parents to make sure that their children are enrolled in the school. Dr Naufal Kassim Mohammed, ENT, HEAD & NECK surgeon at Mnazi Mmoja hospital, who is also the executive secretary of ZOP, says that despite the achievement in establishing the centre, there are still a number of challenges to overcome such "as lack of facilities, and capacity building for teachers."
"Fortunately we have started 2013 with dramatic changes to the School of the Deaf and Post-Hearing-Aid Rehabilitation Centre with a new school bus, thanks to the Dar es Salaam Goat Races Society, IMPACT and GOZA for the support," said Kassim. He said that ZOP has decided to transform the centre into a proper Nursery school with full registration, and that through consultation with the Inclusive Education Unit of Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, the school has started to implement the following developments:
It has been named the 'ZOP Academy,' and contains a nursery school. The school offers scholarships in vocational training on how to care for children with hearing problems. It has applied to be registered by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training and conducts refresher course workshop for its teachers with emphasis on how to teach and train special need children.
Dr Kassim says, "We are determined to rescue deaf children from life of misery. We want every deaf child to get education and enjoy their rights. We hope to succeed as a national centre of excellence for the deaf." Children of the age between 3 and 11 from across the islands are allowed to be registered.
He said the children are taught how to communicate and that the aim "of these activities is to increase knowledge for the deaf and improve their ability to communicate effectively with their deaf peers." Dr Naufali says ZOP wants to improve the life of deaf children in Zanzibar, but a shortage of specialist staff and funds may hamper the progress, as he encourages parents of deaf children to choose sending their children to the new school.
He said that another challenge to the new school with a capacity of caring for 30 children is shortage of teachers for the deaf. There is also a deficiency of skilled professionals. "We need to have skilled teachers to help deaf children." "I believe deaf schools are the best opportunity.
Children can play, mix-up, and see their colleagues. Let us not discriminate children with disability, they have the opportunity to grow up with talents," he said. What is deafness? Health experts explain a 'deaf' person as someone with a hearing loss. There are many causes of deafness. Some people are born deaf due to a hereditary condition, or had congenital problems such as those associated with rubella.
Others may become deaf as a result of injury, illness or exposure to excessive noise. The type of deafness or hearing loss, and the time in life that it developed, often has an impact on the person's communication style. Most deaf and hard of hearing people use a variety of communication methods, including sign language, and often several forms simultaneously.
A deaf student's experiences depend very much on the type of hearing loss they have, on their communication preferences, on their previous experience of deafness and on their relationship with both deaf and hearing culture. However, in an environment that takes little or no account of deafness a deaf person can feel isolated, confused and frustrated. Every deaf child is different.
It is important children understand that deaf children may experience different levels of hearing loss and may use different kinds of hearing aids to help them listen, but in Zanzibar many deaf children still lack hearing aids and even care. Zanzibar environment including schools, public offices, streets, and markets remain unfriendly to the people and children with hearing impairments, as activists press the government to bring changes and consider the rights of people with disability.
Compensation law for disabled Revolutionaries passed
Tripoli 27 February 2013:
Congress today, Wednesday, published a law giving life pensions to Thuwar who are disabled as a result of being injured in the revolution. The disabled will be paid between LD 3,00 and LD 5,000 a month depending on their disability. They will also be provided with free medical insurance, vehicles and homes.
Congress hopes the law, which was passed yesterday, will finally settle thuwar discontent at the way they have been treated since the end of the revolution and bring an end to the continued occupation of the Congress debating chamber by between 16 to 20 disabled revolutionaries.
As a result of the occupation, Congress voted on the law in the conference room of the Rixos Hotel next door.
It had been earlier reported (including by the Libya Herald) that they had all been ejected from the Congress building following a law being passed to ensure that it should meet unmolested. However, although some left, not all did and the chamber still remains occupied.
“It’s a very good deal,” one Congress official said today. “Probably, the best they’re going to get.”
However, there are reports that some thuwar are looking for a minimum of LD 6,000 a month, plus a considerably larger one-off payment in addition to the medical treatment, cars and houses.
That they had to take such drastic action to ensure the same degree of medical treatment and adequate pensions that are given to war wounded indeveloped countries has shocked many Libyans. In the US, Vietnamveterans receive free medicare as well as a number of other benefits.
Zimbabwe: Support Athletes Living With Disability - Christopher Katore
2 MARCH 2013
TEAM manager for the wheelchair racing team that took part in the Quteniqua Wheelchair Challenge in South Africa recently, Christopher Katore, has called on various stakeholders to support athletes living with disability for them to realise their full potential. Katore was speaking during a luncheon hosted for the team by Supa Lotto yesterday in the capital.
The team was made up of captain, Edmund Makutya, Elford Moyo, Wilson Nyakoko, Samson Muroyiwa, Magdalene Madzivire, Dorcas Hwatira, Margaret Bangajena, Thandiwe Ndlovu and Moline Majoni.
Zimbabwe won four medals in the 42km race and 21km half marathon including two golds from Nyakoko and Hwatira in the 21km's men and women's race respectively.
Moyo won a silver medal in the 42km race and Ndlovu walked with silver in the 21km women's race.
Makutya and Muroyiwa got complementary medals for finishing fourth and fifth respectively.
Katore said they were happy with the team's performance and called on more sponsors to come on board and help the athletes for better results in future races.
"We are saying let us support these athletes, it's a special group of people and if they can bring gold we have to support them.
"I am happy (Eliot) Mujaji was supported but these athletes have not been supported over the years and now that they got assistance we want to see continuity.
"Let's support them with their travelling and wheelchairs because they are using outdated wheelchairs while other athletes now have the latest models and that's where the difference is," Katore said.
Nyakoko, who won gold in the 21km race, said it was important to stay focused if one is to reach great heights.
"Of course it's a challenge, we are using outdated wheelchairs but the most important thing is to remain focused, I just had to use what I have.
"We do not usually get such opportunities (to compete) as people living with disability, so when I get the chance I just do what I love the most," said Nyakoko.
Hwatira was also excited about her achievements, saying it all came as a surprise.
"We promised to bring medals and we did that. I am very happy because I did not expect to win because of fatigue, we did not get enough time to rest.
"In the future we need more time to train and should have cut off times locally so that we get used to it before we go for a competition," said Hwatira.
Supa Lotto marketing executive, Kudakwashe Muchenje, said they hope to continue working with the team for future races.
"As Supa Lotto we have got a strong social responsibility policy and supporting this team is something we are proud to be doing. We are going to strongly partner with the team in future races," said Muchenje.
South Africa: Gauteng - Calls for Accountability After Death and Disability
4 MARCH 2013, allafrica
SECTION27 has called for those politicians and managers who have been overseeing the systematic collapse of the Gauteng state health system to face the wrath of the law. Read the full report and a series of stories here.
In a hard-hitting report released today (MON) SECTION27 reveals that the province has experienced a debilitating range of operational difficulties, especially in 2012, which has directly resulted in increasing morbidity, disability, stillbirth and death.
The hard-hitting 31-page report paints a grim picture where the dignity and health of state patients in Gauteng’s 33 hospitals and clinics is compromised on a daily basis with services deteriorating in both hospitals and clinics.
Released on the eve of the delivery of the Gauteng budget speech, Monitoring Our Health. An analysis of the breakdown of health care services in selected Gauteng facilities states, details the systematic semi-collapse of the provincial health system, marked by shortages of medicines, collapsing infrastructure, broken equipment and inadequate staff.
“Subsequent official investigations and inquiries have found clear deficiencies in both the systems and operations in hospitals and clinics run by the Gauteng Department of Health. Instead (of acting), the focus has been on putting out fires and the crisis has been addressed on piecemeal basis,” the report says.
SECTION27 director Mark Heywood said it was critical to hold the politicians and government accountable, describing the system as a “nest of snakes where nobody can hold nobody accountable”.
The report lists a number of health system failures, among others:
- Paediatricians have reported cases of children with diseases they should have been immunized against.
- Tertiary hospitals are reporting that they are increasingly unable to offer specialized care as a result of not having the medicines they require.
- Broken equipment has had a significant impact on medical interventions that are equipment dependent such as anaesthetics, radiology and oncology.
- A lack of wheelchairs, stretchers and beds is common in many Gauteng hospitals.
- Power outages at Chris Hani Baragwanath have led to instances where surgeons operated using headlights and cellphone lights.
- At Charlotte Maxeke the delays in appointing critical staff caused the cancellation of between 20 and 25% of surgeries due to a shortage of anaethetists. At another regional hospital surgeries were reduced from six a week to four.
- Newborn babies died or were left disabled at Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital as the understaffed maternity unit struggled to cope.
SECTION27 director Mark Heywood accused the Gauteng health department and government of aiding and abetting a “culture of impunity” when it came to taking responsibility for the failure of the health system.
“Nobody is ever held accountable and people (heads of department and MECs) are shuffled in and out of their positions without any question asked or consequences,” Heywood, adding that the only ones who faced the consequences were the patients and those working in the institutions.
“At the hard end, the health system abuses these people and those who suffer are forgotten.”
Heywood added that the critical mechanism of accountability was missing and that there needed to be a big push to establish co-governance structures that added these accountability elements.
He said SECTION27 is also discussing whether senior health officials in the government can be held individually liable for incidents of negligence that occur leading to death and disability of patients.
“We ought to be able to follow the chain of responsibility and hold officials with statutory responsibility personally liable for the cost of damages and disability suffered. Instead responsible officials are cushioned by a system that fails taxpayers twice: first they contribute for health services that are mismanaged and when patients take legal action they pay again as the government forks out money in legal fees, damages and settlements,” he said.
SECTION27 cautions that unless the documented failures are addressed, National Health Insurance (NHI) and the transformation of the health system are set to fail.
“Acute crises in these facilities, left unaddressed are likely to render ineffective any regulatory reforms aimed at improving care and have the potential to undermine the NHI reforms,” the report states.
In a veiled threat at possible legal action, SECTION27 states that the “gross disregard” for the legal obligations of the Gauteng health department and the vital oversight function of the National health department “is extremely worrying and cannot be allowed to continue unchallenged.
SECTION27 also claims that there is evidence of corruption with the health department making several multiyear commitments and expenditure decisions that were corrupt and were not directly related to the delivery of healthcare services. - Health-e News Service
Critical meds not in stock
The following medicines were unavailable in hospitals in Gauteng at different points in 2012:
Paracetamol: A basic painkiller (analgesic)
Aspirin: A basic analgesic
Ibuprufen: A basic analgesic
Morphine: Narcotic painreliever
Augmentin: A basic antibiotic
Ceftriaxone: An important antibiotic used for meningitis
Nitrocine: An important vasodilator used in patients with cardiac emergencies
Metformin: A basic oral agent for Diabetes
Insulin: Critical medication for Diabetes
Salmeterol: An important bronchodilator for Asthmatics
Furosemide: A basic and critical diuretic for cardiac patients
Phenytoin: A basic anti-epileptic medication
Warfarin: a basic oral anti-coagula
Even disability could not kill this man’s spirit
Posted Wednesday, March 6 2013 at 02:00
Suleiman Barasa has always been taunted as being ‘different’, but he has not allowed this to hold him back. He shares his remarkable story
If you met Suleiman Barasa today, you would never guess the tribulation she has suffered as a person born with disability. Today, he is a happy father-of-three and married to a caring woman.
But things were not always this way for Barasa. First, he was abandoned by his family soon after he was born because of his physical condition and for as long as he can remember, he has endured taunting from people who regarded him as being “different”.
Barasa is a successful businessman in Lugari County with interests in transport, real estate, and trade. His is a story of a person who overcame tremendous adversity to become one of the most highly regarded people in his community.
His story is a true testimony of how hope can move mountains. Once viewed as a burden by some of his family members due to his handicap, he has fought against all odds to become a tycoon of sorts in his hometown of Lugari.
When we arrive for the interview with the man who has come to be envied by many in his community, we find his wife, Naomi Salano, feeding him, an action driven by love and passion for her husband. Every mealtime as she feeds her six-month-old baby, Naomi thinks about her husband as well.
The mother-of-three has been feeding her physically challenged husband for the past eight years. She says that nothing can be more fulfilling.
“I also help him bath, dress, and perform administrative duties in his business,” she says. She is technically the “unemployed” accountant in her husband’s maize and transport business.
Born in 1976 with deformed hands and partially dysfunctional legs, Barasa was separated from his mother at a tender age by missionaries who thought his condition could be reversed at a hospital in Kabete. “I am told that my mother had abandoned me. The missionaries then took it upon themselves to try and reverse my physical condition. Unfortunately, they didn’t succeed,” he says.
The missionaries later took him to Nyabondo Rehabilitation Centre where he learned to write before being introduced to formal education.
After successfully going through rehabilitation, Barasa joined Nyabondo Special School for the physically handicapped in 1984 and sat for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) in 1992. He later joined Mombasa Secondary School for the Physically Handicapped.
It was during the KCPE registration that he assumed the name Suleiman Barasa, having only used one name, Khamisi, all along.
“I was told my parents had given me only one name, yet national examination registration requires one to have more than one,” he adds.
He was to later meet his mother, albeit temporarily, while in Form 1. She had separated with his father and remarried. “I was introduced to her by some members of the Catholic church that was sponsoring me then, though she passed on a few months later before we could bond,” he says.
After secondary school, Barasa was returned to his extended family in 1996 in the hope that they could no longer view him as a burden since he was now educated. Little did he know that it was to be the beginning of his tribulations. His inability to do many things for himself did not go down well with some of his relatives. Some of them avoided feeding, bathing, and even dressing him.
“There was food all over the place but I literally had to beg. Even if I succeeded in getting the food, no one was willing to feed me,” he recalls. He says some of the relatives were so derisive and fed up with him that he once overheard them wondering why they were having someone around who could never do anything for himself, including feed himself. These words truly hurt him.
Tired of what he was being subjected to, he decided to move out and start life on his own. With his little savings, he decided to rent a house at Lugari trading centre, although he was aware that it was not going to be easy.
He started off by buying and selling the Tiger brand of dry cells. It was a risk because the government had outlawed the sale of the cells.
“At the beginning, I could buy a packet at Sh150 and resell it at Sh180. I sold a packet each day and made Sh30 profit,” he says.
In six months, he had made Sh3,000. He bought a heifer and requested a friend to take care of it as he went on with his dry cells business.
He later sold the cow for Sh7,000 and bought two other heifers as he struggled to earn a living through whatever means possible. After a year, he sold his two cows for Sh50,000.
“I remember one day as I was looking after the animals, a man I can only remember as Mr Kilambo appeared and offered me Sh50,000 for the two animals. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” he says.
The deal was a turning point for “Mnati”, as he is known in his hometown. He ventured into the cereal business, with a bias for maize. He would buy maize from the comfort of his house in small quantities before reselling it to established buyers who preferred large quantities.
By this time, he had money and could pay for basic services like bathing and feeding as well as washing his clothes. “I could even get them for free. You know, when you have money, friends come calling unlike when they view you as a beggar,” he adds with a chuckle.
Five years into the maize business and with enough capital, Barasa decided it was time he moved a notch higher. He started hiring lorries and ferrying maize to markets outside Lugari, where prices were better.“I began making up to Sh5,000 in profits after expenses each day I went out. This made me work even harder to prove to the doubting Thomases that even a person without limbs can succeed in life,” says the “Lugari millionaire”.
As business flourished, he bought a secondhand lorry. This came with consequences as his capital was depleted. “My resolve to make it big in life never wavered, though,” he says. In a bid to resuscitate the maize business, he started offering transport services with his new acquisition.
His determination has seen his business soar to great heights. Currently, he operates on a minimum of 1,000 bags of maize in his store. Most of his clients are non-governmental organisations, schools, colleges, and traders from other towns.
Barasa also owns three commercial buildings at Lugari trading centre and an undeveloped plot in Kakamega town. He has two lorries and a saloon car that his family uses.
Barasa is a millionaire of sorts in Lugari. His brand name, “Mnati”, adorns all his buildings and lorries. When not using his lorries to ferry maize, Barasa hires them out.
Asked how he keeps in touch with business associates, friends, and family, he says he relies on his phone’s Bluetooth device, which is fast and efficient. He epitomises the from-rags-to-riches fairy tale as he is no longer a burden to society, but now an employer. He has employed three drivers, five casual workers at his maize store, a househelp, and a guard.
Barasa’s biggest challenge as a businessman is his perceived disability, especially when he takes his maize to markets outside Lugari. It takes several visits for clients to be convinced that he is the owner, especially when they see him being carried to and from the lorry.
However, since he got married to Naomi eight years ago, he admits that things have become easier. “These days I can do most things with privacy guaranteed. Above all, I’m fed by someone with my interests at heart,” says Barasa.
And how did they meet? Naomi was a regular customer at his stores. She does not reveal more, but the rest, as they say, is history. She does not hide the satisfaction she derives from her marriage. She says living with Barasa has redefined her meaning of love and problem-solving.
She says her previous marriage of five years was characterised by suspicion and violence. “I was repeatedly battered by my previous partner on allegations that I was barren,” she says.
Her husband strategises on the way forward in their business and Naomi does the implementation. She says none of her family members opposed her intention to marry Barasa, adding that his sheer determination and entrepreneurial skills dwarf his physical challenges.
“My parents told me the most important thing in marriage is love and understanding. We have all that and his physical condition to me is God’s plan,” says the 34-year-old. Naomi and Barasa have three children; Daraja, seven, Kassim Ogtwambo, three, and Bafadhil Khamisi, who is six-months-old.
Away from business, Barasa says the greatest challenge physically disabled individuals have to put up with is stigmatisation. According to him, most physically challenged individuals are regarded as beggars. Here calls the countless occasions he has been ignored and even locked out of some offices by officials who mistake him for a tramp.
“One day I got into a supermarket in Bungoma, only for the managers to send one of the workers to give me Sh10 coin so as not interrupt other buyers,” says Barasa. It took the intervention of his assistants to save him further embarrassment, although the humiliation is still a fresh memory.
But he is not one to rest on his laurels and believes that what he has achieved is modest. His ambition is to do even better and he is focusing on that. Barasa is trying his hand at politics and presented his candidature for a county representative seat in Lugari in Monday’selection.
And he has a parting shot. “It is not about one’s physical ability but their mental strength. As long as you are sane and with a clear goal, physical challenges cannot be an impediment to what you have set your eyes on,” he says.
VSA Arts Nigeria makes case for disabled people in Nigeria’s tourism
Written by Olaoluwa Mimiola
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 00:00
THE Executive Director, VSA Arts Nigeria, Mr Moses Ogunleye, has charged the Nigeria’s tourism authorities and other private stakeholders in the industry on the accessibility of people living with disabilities to the tourist sites and hospitality outfits in the country.
VSA is an international organisation on arts and disability, founded over 35 years ago by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to provide arts and education opportunities for people with disabilities and increase access to the arts for all with 52 international affiliates and a network of nationwide affiliates.
Ogunleye while speaking with Tribune Tourism Magazine at the weekend in Ibadan, Oyo State disclosed that the people with disability also have the equal right to access and enjoy the beauty of the tourist sites, and the hospitality centres in the country, adding that, “unfortunately, they have hitherto been denied and marginalised.
“Nigerians and tourists living with disabilities do not enjoy the benefits of tourism in Nigeria, because there are no facilities that could enable them easy accessibility to about 99 per cent of the tourist sites and hospitality outfits in the country, which include, the Premier Hotel, Ibadan; Cultural Centres across the country; event and conference centres among other tourist and hospitality centres.
“More pathetic is the non fulfillment that the people living with disabilities who are into performing arts profession suffer due to their inability to practise in most of our art theatres, because they are not accessible.
“People living with disabilities do not only suffer inaccessibility at tourist and hospitality centres, but also in schools. This makes life difficult for this set of Nigerians to live in their fatherland.”
The Nigeria’s representative of VSA which provides arts and education programming for youth and adults with disabilities around the world, charged the Nigerian government to wake-up to issues affecting people living with disabilities, especially in the areas of tourism, travel, hospitality and education.
Zimbabwe: Disabled Bemoan Vagueness in Draft Constitution
6 MARCH 2013
The National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped yesterday expressed disappointment with provisions related to their rights and welfare as captured in the draft Constitution.
The organisation, which appeared before the Senate's Thematic Committee on the Millennium Development Goals also said the standards of living of disabled persons were deplorable as they lacked access to most basic services.
The programmes officer in charge of research and advocacy Mr Tsarayi Mangoni, said the draft's provisions were inadequate as it did not make it mandatory for Government to provide for the welfare of the disabled.
"The draft constitution has a problem in that it says: 'Government shall provide the resources' instead of 'Government will'."
"Government already apologises for its shortcomings, it is an apologetic clause," he said.
He added that the draft did not provide a definition for disability making it easy for anyone to claim to be disabled.
"The draft constitution has no definition for disability such that disability will become very fluid. Even those that are gap-toothed will claim disability," Mr Mangoni said.
He said it was also disheartening that Government had national policies of action for HIV and Aids, Youths and Wildlife but did not have one for people with disabilities.
"This means people with disabilities are not a priority," he said.
Nascoh Disability and Technical Advisor Mr Fambainesu Magweva, however, said despite the shortcoming in the draft, they would support it at the referendum.
"We will Vote Yes for the sake of progress for the national agenda though we are not happy with the provisions of the draft," he said.
He bemoaned the plight of the disabled.
Mr Magweva said 20 percent of nearly 1,2 million people with disabilities had no national identity documents, making it difficult for them to participate in national events such as elections, while 95 percent of children with disabilities were illiterate due to difficulties in accessing schools or lack of specialised learning materials.
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A Visit by SAPTE to the Deaf High Technical Secondary School
In our endeavor and good gesture to explore the areas of cooperation between the Deaf High Technical Secondary School (Co Education School)and SAPTE Center for Professional Vocational Development (City & Guilds Approved Assessment and Examination Center-806117), a center which is dedicated to the service of purposeful industrial application oriented technical vocational education.
At SAPTE, our essential aim is to create a workforce in technical field that cater for the need of society and industry, in our country by providing an education which is complete, meaningful, and according to the job- requirement of today.
The center paid a courtesy visit to the Deaf High Technical Secondary School (co Education School) to give a presentation for the programmes run by the center, and to see the areas where the center can give a helping hand to this important sector of society. In an attempt to bring them to the main stream of society, the story began with a letter from a member of the deaf association, requesting SAPTE center to help them to deliver a programme run by the center in their premises.
Given the fact that this important segment of the society is completely forgotten and marginalized by the government, we were surprised by the fact that the students were packed in a very small area.
It was also astonishing that the students are given only one option for higher education i.e. in the faculty of fine art, at Sudan University of Science and technology. Naturally we do recommend that the ministry of higher education give them wide options in higher technical education.
We also send a special appeal to the government to look keenly into the unique problems facing people with special needs, and urgently address their concerns. We also appeal to the local and international aid organization to help these people with disability by providing them with means by which they can easily be integrated in our society. Based on our interaction during the visit, we are sure of the capability, talent and high skills of this people.
The SAPTE Center (806117) ,Engineering Programmes Coordinator Engineer Ahmed Khogali Ahmed delivered a presentation touching on Skills Foundation qualifications to the students, the qualifications are very unique in that the teaching can be done in any language while the assessment is outcome based with oral questions asked at the end of the training. So students do not have to be speakers of English Language for them to attempt and achieve the qualification. The use of Arabic or any other vernacular language will be fully supported in the delivery system. As long as the learner, tutor and assessor can communicate effectively and the learner can also produce the desired outcomes, then the qualification can be delivered.
We highlighted our Foundation Basic Skills Certificates for the deaf in the areas of:
1-Skills Foundation Certificate (Basic Carpentry)
2-Skills Foundation Certificate (Basic Masonry)
3-Skills Foundation Certificate (Basic Plumbing)
4-Skills Foundation Certificate (Basic Refrigeration and Air Conditioning)
5- Skills Foundation Certificate (Basic Electrical Installation)
6- Skills Foundation Certificate (Basic Motor Vehicle Engineering)
7- Skills Foundation Certificate (Basic Motor Vehicle Repair)
8-Skills Foundation Certificate (Basic Electronic Engineering)
9-Skills Foundation Certificate (Basic Electrical Engineering)
100-Skills Foundation Certificate (Motor Cycle Repair)
11-Skills Foundation Certificate (IT for Office Applications)
12-Skills Foundation Certificate (Food Preparation)
13- Skills Foundation Certificate (House Keeping)
144- Skills Foundation Certificate (Food and Beverage Service (
15-Skills Foundation Certificate (Aluminum fittings)
Another point to note is that at SAPTE, our courses are of very low fees considering the financial ability of these students.
During our interaction with the management of the school, we came to know that there are seventeen technical schools of this nature.
We hope and pray that the government will give more attention to people with special needs, so that they will not be forgotten and marginalized by both the society and government at large. We thank the English language Instructor at the Deaf Technical secondary School;
Instructor Monna Balla Alnour and her colleagues, who carried out signal interpretation of our presentation
>From here, we request businesspeople and charity organizations to help the Deaf High Technical Secondary School to build a new school on the part of the land, which was donated since long time by the government.
Again we take this opportunity to appeal to the business community to support them for payment of the exams and registration fees of th ecourses given by City & Guilds International, UK-London as this will make them feel appreciated by the rest of the world.
Zimbabwe: Disabled Students' Plight Under Spotlight
9 MARCH 2013
Challenges faced by students with disability in Zimbabwe and across borders are rapidly rising, a Zimbabwe Junior Parliamentarian has said.
In an interview, Senator of the Junior Parliament Munyaradzi Mahiya, bemoaned the plight of disabled students. "In Zimbabwe access to secondary education for students with disabilities has become a challenge which continues to rise almost every day.
"The situation has worsened because they are few secondary schools that cater for students with disabilities and most schools still remain inaccessible due to infrastructure problems," he said.
Munyaradzi said the situation has propelled misconceptions in the most communities with disabled people, who now think that there is no point in sending their disabled children to school, since they won't be integrated into tertiary institutions.
'The situation has propelled a number of misconceptions in the community, for most young disabled people are now being turned away from admission into these institutions," he said.
He noted the language barrier was also a major factor affecting and hindering progress in schools dominated by deaf people.
"The issue of language when dealing with a deaf community has hindered much progress as most service providers are falling to understand sign language, when students who are disabled are admitted into some of the seadaptive schools their curriculum will be based on vocational subjects.
'It is disheartening to note that most teachers are and service providers are not sensitive when it comes to working with people who are disabled, making the environment not conducive and healthy for students with disabilities," he said.
Munyaradzi encouraged Zimbabweans and well-wishers to shun discrimination and stigmatisation towards the disabled.
"Most sponsors and donors have not fully recognised students with disability as candidates on their list of beneficiaries, a development that has seen disabled people failing to proceed to tertiary level.
"They all need everyone's support to better their lives," he said.
"This identifies the attainment of education as the major contributor to the challenges faced by students with disability in their perception offuture prospects of employment," he said.
The youth voice campaigner applauded the Government for coming up with the Basic Education Assistance Module for students.
'I am happy that the Government through the Labour and Social Welfare Ministry has been playing an active role in educating people with disabilities (PWDs) in Zimbabwe.
"The disabled just like able-bodied should benefit from all the programmes being carried out by the Government throughout the country," he said.
Several non-governmental organisations are working to improve the education of physically challenged children in Zimbabwe this includes Leonard Cheshire Zimbabwe Trust alongside the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture.
The Anglo American Group Foundation also funded a three-year project from 2009-2010 to promote the inclusion of children with disabilities into the mainstream education by providing training to both teachers and parents.
The pilot project has seen the introduction of inclusive learning in 21 primary schools in four provinces - Midlands, Mashonaland West, Harare and Mashonaland East.
In Zimbabwe some of the challenges currently being faced by persons with disabilities include accessibility of infrastructure, employment and housing opportunities, communication, education and involvement in local decision-making processes among others.
For years students living with disabilities have been educated at specialised institutions or regular schools provided special class for them.
However, much special care has not been given to them, prompting calls by parents for the Government and stakeholders to take action and address the plight of the physically challenged children.
According to disability activist areas that need to be covered are suitable learning materials, cognitive development, special trained teachers and general learning environment.
At least 10 percent of the total population in Zimbabwe consists of persons with various forms of disabilities, while the general estimates put the unemployment rate for the disabled community at not less than 99, 9 percent.
Injured disabled athlete seeks assistance from Lagos State govt
Daily Times Nigeria-2013/03/09
ARTICLE | MARCH 9, 2013 - 4:01PM | BY OUR REPORTER
Kemi Adegbesan, an injured power lifter with the Lagos State Power Lifting (Special Sports) Association, on Saturday pleaded with the state government to come to her rescue.
Adegbesan, a bronze medalist at the 18th National Sports Festival held last year in Lagos, said on Saturday that she broke her arm during training in February.
The disabled athlete said that her predicament had stalled her regular training and might affect her career if not well managed.
``I have been sidelined with a broken shoulder and arm injury since February while training at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.
``I have tried to go through the traditional means and have also gone for an x-ray test to know the extent of the injury.
``I want the state to come to my rescue because I cannot afford the amount that I have been asked to bring for my treatment,’’ she said.
Adegbesan, who is popularly known as ‘Iya Osha’, said she had also made efforts to get help from her family, friends and the state association, but to no avail.
``I want to continue my career as an athlete and, hopefully, to participate at more national events and in future.
``I was at the national trials for the last London Olympic Games. I hope the state will heed my call for help,’’ she said.
One Africa supports education in Elimina and Cape Coast
March 11, 2013 | Filed under: Latest news | Posted by: VibeGhana
The Unity Liability Company (One Africa), in Elmina, has in the past 25 years financially supported 40 children in basic, secondary and tertiary institutions, in the Elmina and Cape Coast areas.
Madam Imahkus Njinga Okofu Ababio, founder of the company, which operates a beach resort and a museum and has a collection of artifacts from Africa and the Diaspora, announced this at a benefit concert.
The event dubbed: “AP-Peace-Ciation”, was organized by the company over the weekend in Cape Coast.
Madam Ababio said One Africa has also spent $350.00 on an emergency surgery on a student abroad.
She said the concert was organized to mark the 25th anniversary of the company in Ghana, honour her late husband Nana Akofo Iture Kweku 1 as well as to commemorate Ghana’s 56th Independence Day.
Madam Ababio said the concert was also in honour of the late President Evans John Atta-Mills, who encouraged her to return home and do something good to help her community, hence her return to Elmina for good.
She said the company also sought to unearth talents of Ghanaian children, and gave the assurance that proceeds from the concert would be used to assist the blind unit of the Cape Coast School of the Deaf, Akoma International Academy for the Arts and Sciences, Adisadel Urban Health Center and Maternity Clinic, Sankofa Mmofra Fie Children’s Home and School as well as Oguaa Football for Hope Center.
Madam Ababio said that the educational funding programme of the company had sourced funding from Black American professionals in the Diaspora, including nurses, mechanical engineers, teachers and carpenters.
Ghanaian artists, including Kwabena Kwabena, Gyedu-Blay Ambolley and Cynthia McCauley and R2BEES participated in the concert.
Hip life artist, Kwabena Kwabena, expressed his gratitude to One Africa for inviting him for the programme, saying it was a privilege for him to extend a helping hand to the needy through musical performance.
Gyedu-Blay Ambolley said music could be used to develop the country and called on the organizers of the concert to replicate it in other parts of the country.
Ms Cynthia MacCauley appealed to the Ministry of Tourism to support gospel musicians carry out their role well saying many gospel musicians have talent to produce quality gospel music but due to lack of money to engage the services of qualified producers, it was impossible for such people to come out with music albums.
Ethiopia: Circus Debre Berhan's 'Theatre for Social Development'
BY ALEXIA LIAKOUNAKOU, 12 MARCH 2013
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Circus Debre Berhan
A circus from the town of Debre Berhan is trying to communicate important social messages to Ethiopians through the medium of acrobatic entertainment.
Tameru Zegaye sits at a local restaurant with his fellow circus troupe members on a windy February day in Debre Berhan, a small Ethiopian town 120 kilometres northeast of Addis Ababa. His story is symbolic and inspirational.
He was born in a small village in the north in the 1970s to an unmarried mother. His legs were turned inwards and people claimed he was a curse from the devil. Zegaye's mother left him before his father abandoned him too, leaving him to be raised by one of his grandfathers.
Stigmatised and alone, Zegaye, at the age of nine, escaped his village to the town of Lalibela by walking on his hands. The journey took him four days.
After reaching Lalibela, he started earning money as a beggar. He begged his way into earning enough money to try to escape to Europe through Libya three times, but never succeeded in making the sea crossing. Now it seems this was probably for the best.
Since his teenage years in Lalibela, certain 'miracles' changed his life. First came the help of a German NGO who put him on multiple operating tables to correct his disability, an effort which proved successful as he can now walk.
Then his schooling, which he commenced at primary level at the age of 19, was funded by two American well-wishers who met him in Lalibela. In his late 20s, Zegaye managed to move to Addis Ababa and earnt a university degree as an official tour guide. Then, finally, Circus Debre Berhan found him, or he found them, and Zegaye became part of the troupe.
He has now been part of Circus Debre Berhan for almost a month, and he has already earned recognition and respect for his impressive physical abilities.
The art of social awareness
For Circus Debre Berhan, Zegaye is their latest member who is either deaf or has a physical disability. The troupe was established back in 1998, taking its name from the town in which it was founded, with the vision of promoting social awareness on various issues concerning health and stigma as well as spreading the message of equality.
The idea of 'theatre for social development' has a long history throughout the developing world. Moving in the opposite direction to the themes promoted by 'freak shows', the 1970s saw the rise of non-elite entertainment along the lines of Augusto Boal's arguments against "idealist poetics" which he saw as disconnected from socioeconomic realities.
Boal's Marxist-inspired ideas had been fermenting for a few decades, but broke free and swept across the developing world especially after Boal's creation of the 'Theatre of the Oppressed' in Brazil.
Since then, the idea of the 'Social Circus' has been a growing force in the performance arts of developing countries. This has been strengthened by the Cirque du Soleil donating funds to the Cirque du Monde to support the concept of the Social Circus whereby "young people develop a sense of belonging, freedom, creativity, perseverance and discipline".
Theatre for Ethiopia
Debre Berhan Circus is also part of a growing tradition of Ethiopian circus, which has been growing in popularity over the past three decades and now numbers around 25 circus troupes nationwide.
Some of Ethiopia's circus roots lie in diverse global influences, the ancient Chinese tradition being first among them, but the most direct influence on today's circus repertoire comes from the founding members of Circus Addis Ababa.
Circus Addis Ababa was Ethiopia's first circus and was founded in 1991 by American Andy Goldman and French-Canadian Marc La Chance. In 1993, the two men founded an umbrella institution called the Circus in Ethiopia for Youth and Social Development (CIE), which became an NGO, and La Chance obtained costumes from the Cirque du Soleil.
Debre Berhan Circus builds on from the foundations laid by Circus Addis Ababa and tries to integrate Ethiopian characteristics such as music, costumes, and hairstyles, into a global circus language. Circus Debre Berhan is also affiliated with European theatres and organisations, and often arranges seminars with European tutors for its actors.
The European theatre tradition thus infuses itself in Debre Berhan's acts too. This range of influences can be seen in the troupe's performances. "We often change scenarios and play out different storylines in our performances. Sometimes there is no storyline at all", Henok Teklu Asheger, the circus' director, told Think Africa Press.
Circus Debre Berhan, moreover, tries to differentiate itself from 'big circuses' in that its acrobats do not rely on ropes or other protective measures. Their protection lies only in the trust which has grown between the performers as well as endless practice. Cooperation and persistence have consequently become defining themes in this type of art.
The single most important feature in this circus, however, lies in the fact it employs performers who have, or once had, physical disabilities as well as those who are deaf.
These performers, both those in the children's act and the adult's act, are extremely talented. Circus Debre Berhan's shows open with the children's beautiful and often very challenging acrobatics, followed by the adult act which is staggering in its intricacy and difficulty.
The performances are usually held in public spaces such as markets and main squares where possible in order to reach and entertain as many people as possible.
At the moment, Circus Debre Berhan is touring all over Ethiopia with its hundred or so performers split into small groups to cover the vast countryside. If it continues its success, it will hopefully help change perceptions of disability and stigma in the region while also find and incorporate inspirational figures like Tameru Zegaye into its ranks.
A book of Tameru Zegaye's story is currently being written by the author.
Alexia Liakounakou holds a BA in the Archaeology of the Middle East and Africa, and an MA in Social Anthropology, from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
She has teaching experience at an elementary rural school in Sierra Leone and was team coordinator and researcher for the Center of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the University of Peloponnese, Greece. She currently works as a freelance Islamic and African Arts researcher and writer. Follow her on twitter @alexialia.
South Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti Agree On Oil Route for Export A tripartite agreement was reached late afternoon on Tuesday that will enable South Sudan to start exporting crude oil … see more ≫
Read the original of this report on the ThinkAfricaPress site.
Uganda: NDP At Three- No Antidote for the Disabled
BY SHIFA MWESIGYE, 13 MARCH 2013
Three years ago -in April 2010 - the National Development Plan was created with lots of optimism among Ugandans. But as Shifa Mwesigye found, there are huge gaps between plans and achievements.
When President Yoweri Museveni launched the National Development Plan (NDP) on April 19 2010, he was upbeat that this well-thought-out plan would transform the lives of all Ugandans from a peasant economy to a modern and prosperous country within 30 years. After all, Uganda had just discovered oil and this money would help in the effort.
Edison Ngirabakunzi, the executive director at the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda says the day was a milestone for persons with disabilities (PWDs) because the NDP took into account their concerns. They had been consulted during the planning process. The plan was developed as a guiding tool for all government ministries and programmes, which were to be implemented between 2010 and 2015.
This would be done by raising income levels, improving the labour force distribution, raising the country's human development indicators and improving the country's competitiveness with other middle-income countries. The investment priorities would include physical infrastructure development mainly in energy, railway, waterways and air transport; human resource development in the areas of education, skills development, health, water and sanitation; facilitating availability and access to critical production inputs especially in agriculture and industry; and promotion of science, technology and innovation.
The goal was to work with every Ugandan of age, disability, unemployment, ethnic minorities and other characteristics such as poverty anddisasters. As a multi-sectoral plan, the National Planning Authority invited every sector in the country to work on a plan that suited them, especially the poorest of the poor who are disadvantaged by demographic characteristics like gender, disability, household composition, which determine their control over productive assets, to access basic servicesand livelihoods.
The NDP followed various international conventions and resolutions that promote equal opportunities and enjoyment of human rights for both men and women. Gender, disability and human rights main streaming were a corepart of the planning process. Ngirabakunzi says the disabled community was invited and their views included in the plan. There are about two million people (7 per cent of the population) in Uganda who have disabilities, of which 47.6 per cent have permanent disabilities.
"We participated in the drafting of the National Development Plan at the invitation of the National Planning Authority. We had been fighting for recognition and visibility of disability issues in government plans and programmes. So, there was an effort to bring disability issues in the plan and of course we are saying it promotes visibility and raises leads for implementers to be conscious of the disability issues," Ngirabakunzi told The Observer.
"As an overall macroeconomic planning document for the entire ministry and the government, those individual ministries should be able to consider strategies for disabled people. We also sometimes go there to ask how far they have gone with the implementation."
The prioritisation of disability issues in the NDP is not a question. The strongest recommendation in the NDP towards persons with disabilities was the plan to strengthen technical capacity in policy analysis to facilitate the integration of disability needs in policy, development programmes and projects as well as in infrastructure designs; a strategy that is in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
In the employment sector, the NDP sought to take affirmative action totarget the employment of persons with disability and women in line withthe disability Act and policy and the CRPD. The CRPD requires statesparties to make premises, communications and employment opportunitiesaccessible to people with disabilities. In addition, the NDP promisedthat a budget line would be allocated within the UPE capitation systemfor specialized equipment, facilities and materials for children withdisabilities.
When constructing seed secondary schools in sub- counties, all schools would be constructed on the principle of inclusiveness by ensuring accessible physical infrastructure to take care of concerns of students with disabilities. When constructing science and ICT laboratories, the infrastructure would be made accessible to PWDs and specific computer packages for students with visual impairment procured and installed in the laboratories.
The plan also sought to improve equity in the participation of girls, students with disabilities and needy students. This would be done by providing bursary schemes for girls, students with disabilities and needy students. So, if one is going to construct a school, the person should be aware that there are accessibility concerns of children with disabilities because the government committed itself by ratifying the convention to protect the rights of these children.
"But you find that some of the buildings are still not accessible because engineers did not provide for that. No ramps to the buildings, all scholastic materials are not in braille. I don't know if it is just an oversight or deliberate," Ngirabakunzi said.
The NDP also planned to expand community-based rehabilitation services for older persons, people with disabilities (PWDs) and children with special needs to all districts in the country in line with article 16 of the CRPD dealing with health and rehabilitation of PWDS to promote physical, cognitive and psychological recovery, rehabilitation and social integration of persons with disabilities who become victims of exploitation, violence, or abuse.
The NDP also stated that the government would work to provide equal opportunity to women and other disadvantaged groups to participate and benefit from trade. This would be done through training PWDs in trade skills and competencies, market information and business skills.
"There is the daunting challenge of attaining a relatively higher per-capita income level in the face of a rapidly rising population. This would require a massive increase in skilled labour and its redeployment to the production of value- added export-oriented goods and services. Skilling and tooling our human resource also presents an opportunity for the achievement of development goals such as the reduction of poverty and improvements in health, education, housing, gainful employment, gender equality and conservation of the environment," President Museveni said during the launch.
But Ngirabakunzi questions the extent to which disability issues are being achieved.
"Even when they mention these issues in the NDP, to what extent are they backed by budget? We definitely appreciate that they are captured but that is not enough because we need disability indicators to assess performance of the plan in regard to disability," Ngirabakunzi says.
He says that mentioning the rights of PWDS in the health sector is not enough if it is short of strategies that would guide different planners. The NDP is a framework that guides other subsequent planning and gives direction to several sector levels. Its mission is good enough to reflect everybody and transform their lives. But transformation of PWDs is yet to be seen.
"Planning should be focusing on these people because they are [the] poorest of the poor. When you leave it open, they get lost in a forest of so many things. What would be good is to prioritise disability issues in the plan. Why I want them elaborate is because these are marginalised people who cannot talk for themselves. Development should be for marginalised people living at margins of communities. Any document of development should recognise the peculiar needs of these people and a development plan should be able to articulate all these issues," Ngirabakunzi says.
This Observer feature was prepared with support from The National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (Nudipu)
Uganda: Calls for More Education Funding for the Disabled
BY ANDREW SSENYONGA, 13 MARCH 2013
The Woman MP for Persons With Disability (PWDs) Safia Nalule has decried the reluctance by government to improve the education status of the PWDs in the country, saying that they have been sidelined.
According to Nalule, majority of the disabled persons don't have access to education due to lack of schools, teachers and necessary scholastic materials.
"Government should provide equal opportunities to all its citizens but not sideline some of them. The president promised us schools in every region but we are yet to see them," she said.
She made the remarks during a press discourse on the rights of children with disabilities at Esami House in Kampala on Tuesday.
Nalule said government needs to put in place facilities that are favorable for disabled people to guarantee a conducive learning environment.
"Let us walk the talk and make the conditions for disabled persons favorable. How many of our government-aided schools have equipment that enables children with disabilities to access quality education?" she asked.
She said that handicapped individuals are mostly left out during recruitment exercises by companies because they are believed to be short of academic qualification, countering their right to employment.
"Such people need support, and protection. Which police officer can take a statement from a deaf child? All these areas need to be improved upon."
According to the Uganda National Household Survey 2005/2006, currently 7.2% (2.5 million) Ugandans have a disability. Most of these people however lack formal employment due to stigma and poor education.
The 2002 national census indicated that only 2.2% of PWDs in Uganda have attained secondary level education.
The same survey revealed that 90% of PWDs in Uganda do not go beyond Primary Level education. This may partly explain why employment opportunities are scarce for the PWDs.
Section 12 of part III of the Disability Act 2006 states that a person shall not discriminate against a qualified person based on disability regarding any job application procedure, hiring, promotion, compensation, job training and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.
What’s On in Tunis: March 14-20
Chris Barfield | 13 March 2013 | 0 Comments
Tunis has an especially rich offering of musical performances this week. On Thursday, a number of artists will present a tribute to late musician Hedi Guella at The Coliseum. The following day, Dar Ennejma Ezzahra in Sidi Bou Said will set the poetic works of Tunisian writer Aboukacem Chebbi to the music of Joseph Hayden in a presentation, entitled ‘ Adagio.’ For smaller shows, try Tahar Haddad Cultural Club or ‘I Want to Sing’ at the Municipal Theater.
Next Tuesday, the Municipal Theater will showcase a jazz interpretation of Verdi. Finally, on Wednesday, the Tunisian Symphonic Orchestra will present a show targeting youth, including selections from the scores of‘The God father,’ ‘Amadeus,’ and ‘1492.’
For the deaf but not dumb, there are a number of continuing visual art exhibitions as well as book signings and discussions at local libraries. The Med Comedy Festival also concludes this week with big shows on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in downtown Tunis.
Art Exhibition: “Treillis en devenir”
When: March 1 -21, 2013
Where: La Galerie Le Cap, GammarthFor More Information: http://www.jetsetmagazine.net/culture/treillis-en-devenir.23.16057.html
Art Exhibition: “Reverie II” by Salah Ben Amor
When: March 8 -22, 2013
Where: Galerie Semia Achour, 40 Avenue Fattouma Bourguiba, La Soukra
For More Information: http://www.jetsetmagazine.net/culture/vernissage-de-lexposition-reverie-ii.23.16049.html
Med Comedy Festival
When: March 9-16, 2013
Where: Theatre Municipal de Tunis, 2 Rue de Grece
For More Information: http://www.kharjet.com/event-1157-med-comedy-festival.html
Literary Discussion with Author Faisal Abrouk
When: March 13, 2013 at 3:00pm
Where: Tahar Haddad Cultural Club, 20 Rue du Tribunal la Medina
For More Information:http://www.facebook.com/events/426198950808023/
Tribute to the Late Hedi Guella
When: March 14, 2013 at 8:00pm
Where: The Coliseum, 45 Avenue Habib Bourguiba, Tunis
How Much: 10 Dinars
For More Information: http://www.facebook.com/events/596145450413419/
Book Discussion: “Tunisian, a Century of Images”
When: March 15, 2013 at 6:00pm
Where: Zephyr Cultural Library, Zephyr Commercial Center, La Marsa
For More Information: http://www.facebook.com/events/342003472583720/
When: March 15, 2013 at 7:30pm
Where: Dar Ennejma Ezzahra, 8 Rue du 2 Mars, Sidi Bou Said
For More Information: http://www.jetsetmagazine.net/culture/adagio.23.16120.html
Book Signing: “Al-Mutanabbi in the Bahamas District”
When: March 16, 2013 at 5:30pm
Where: Espace Mille Feuilles, 99 Avenue Habib Bourguiba, La Marsa
For More Information: http://www.facebook.com/events/156570667835486/
Music with Badiaa Bouhirizi and Khiyam Ellami
When: March 16, 2013 at 6:30pm
Where: Tahar Haddad Cultural Club, 20 Rue du Tribunal la Medina
How Much: 10 Dinars
For More Information: http://www.facebook.com/events/137528389758459/
I Want to Sing
When: March 17, 2013 at 7:30pm
Where: Theatre Municipal de Tunis, 2 Rue de Grece
For More Information: http://www.kharjet.com/event-874-je-veux-chanter.html
Art Exhibition: “Ex Nihilio” by Irane Ouanes
When: March 19 - April 1, 2013
Where: El Teatro Aire Libre, Belevedre
For More Information: http://www.facebook.com/events/119980978187022/
Verdi in Jazz
When: March 19, 2013
Where: Theatre Municipal de Tunis, 2 Rue de Grece
For More Information: http://www.jetsetmagazine.net/culture/concert-verdi-in-jazz-par-marco-castelli-quartet.23.16103.html
Tunisian Symphonic Orchestra Youth Performance
When: March 20, 2013 at 8:00pm
Where: Theatre Municipal de Tunis, 2 Rue de Grece
For More Information: http://www.jetsetmagazine.net/culture/orchestre-symphonique-tunisien.23.16127.html
Disabled up to 0.38 percent of S/Africa workforce - Survey
March 13, 2013, enstar Africa.com
A survey done by the Ministry of Public Service and Administration showed that at the end of 2012, the public service, with 39 government ministries, employed 5,127 people with disabilities.
This represented 0.38 percent out of a total workforce of 1,340,410 employees in the ministries, the committee learned during a presentation.
According to the ministry, a total of 2,106 or (41.07 percent) out of the 5,127 were female, while 82 people with disabilities were employed at senior management services levels, and a further 206 were in middle management.
The ministry also informed the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration that the survey also found that out of the country’s 39 national ministries, 11 were above one percent, while only seven had achieved the Cabinet target of two percent.
Among the compliant ministries were the Government Communication and Information System with 2.24 percent, Ministries of Labour with 2.44 percent, Public Enterprises with 3.38 percent, and Women, Children and People with Disabilities which tops the list with 5.55 percent.
The ministry said that Cabinet had resolved in 2000 that there should be a two percent representation of people with disabilities employed by the public service.
In 2005, Cabinet resolved that the two percent target should be set for December of that year. This target was extended to March 2009. Last December Cabinet retained the two percent benchmark.
According to the survey, the trends showed that while the public service did not meet the two percent equity target, it was not losing large numbers of employees with disabilities as had been alleged in some news reports.
The major problem seemed to be that people were moving between ministries. The ministry said it would investigate the reasons for this development.
Deputy Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Henrietta Bogopane-Zulu, urged the ministry to ask why disabled people switched jobs, as well as the matter of job progression, because disabled people were often stuck in the same position for years.
“It’s a bigger picture that needs to be looked at,” she said.
Bogopane-Zula also urged the ministry to re-examine its definition of disabled people.
Employers were under the misapprehension if they employed physically disabled people that they were covering all people without disabilities. However, this practice left out deaf and blind people.
Chairperson Joyce Moloi-Moropa voiced her committee’s disappointment with the failure of the majority of government ministries to achieve the two percent target.
“We are going to pressurise ministries to do what they have to do,” she said, urging all of them to collaborate and work together to achieve the two percent goal.
Turkish Film Festival - South Africa
15 Mar -24 Mar 2013
15 Mar -17 Mar 2013 & 22 Mar - 24 Mar 2013
The Turkish Embassy in Pretoria with the support of Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture and Tourism and in collaboration with Ster-kinekor Cinema Nouveau, is very excited to present the 1st Turkish Film Festival in the Republic of South Africa.
In light of the enhanced bilateral relationship in every field between the Republic of Turkey and Republic of South Africa, Turkish Film Festival not only highlights the existence of a vibrant Turkish film industry, but also points out common expectations of human beings, and encourages the mutual understanding between Turkish and South African people through the diverse language of cinema.
The festival offers South African film enthusiasts an opportunity to explore the contemporary Turkish cinema. The Turkish Film Festival will take place free of charge on 15-17 March 2013 at Brooklyn Mall Ster-kinekor Cinema Nouveau in Pretoria and on 22-24 March 2013 at Rosebank Mall Ster-kinekor Cinema Nouveau in Johannesburg. Tickets can be booked and collected at the participating cinema box office 1 hour prior each show.
Screening recent internationally awarded films and box office hits of latest years, the festival will open with an award winning 2009 Turkish film “Love In Another Language”. This love and life story of a beautiful young woman and a deaf young man with a rare combination of extraordinary acting and talented screenwriting, addresses the cultural barriers about our own love bias whether it be due to disability, age differences, looks or social status.
For more information, contact Turkish Embassy, South Africa http://pretoria.emb.mfa.gov.tr/
Deaf and dumb Muslims to get aid
Publish Date: Mar 15, 2013
By Gloria Nakajubi
Deaf and dumb Muslims will get free legal services following an agreement between the Rotary Club of Kibuli in Kampala and the Muslim Centre for Justice and Law.
The signing ceremony, which was at Hotel Africana recently, also saw the initiation of a Mediation and Conflict Resolution Desk for the deaf and dumb.
According to Jaffer Ssenganda, the president of the Muslim Centre for Justice and Law, justice has not been properly dispensed to the deaf and dumb because of the communication gap and lack of commitment to reach out to them.
Saudi prince arrives for launch Saudi Arabian Prince Faisal Bin Abdul Rahman Bin Muammar has arrived in Uganda for the launch of the Multi-Religious Collaboration for the Survival and Well-being of Childre nprogramme.
The programme is aimed at equipping, engaging and mobilizing religious communities to promote life-saving household practices among families for the survival of children under five years of age.
Faisal is the Secretary General of King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz International Centre for Inter-Religious and Inter- Cultural Dialogue.
Hearing-impaired people face challenges at healthcare centres
From: Ghana | GNA
Published On: March 16, 2013, 10:42 GMT
Mr Robert Sampana, Advocacy Officer of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD), said on Friday that lack of sign language interpreters in hospitals is preventing its members from accessing healthcare in the country.
He said in a statement that lack of sign language interpreters had resulted in improper diagnosis at health facilities as communication barrier between the deaf and hearing medical officers often leads to wrong prescriptions and complications in some cases and in other cases preventable deaths.
“There is lack of adequate knowledge of deaf people, their culture and language by healthcare personnel,” the statement said.
The statement appealed to relatives of deaf patients to get their victims sign language interpreters and involve them in family activities to prevent the isolation trauma patients with the disability go through all the time.
“It is only through the medium of sign language that deaf persons can enjoy and exercise their human rights and play an active role in society”, it added.
The statement appealed to the government to recognize Ghana Sign Language as official language for the deaf and make provision for the employment of sign language interpreters in healthcare centres acrossthe country.
Man jailed for 'disabled' rape
16 Mar 2013, iafrica.com
A man was sentenced to 22 years in prison by the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday for rape, KwaZulu-Natal police said.
Sibusiso Didis Nkosi (26) was found guilty of raping an 85-year-old disabled woman in her room at an old age home in Paulpietersburg shortly after midnight on 12 March 2011, Captain Thulani Zwane said.
"He entered the room through a door that was not locked and raped the victim. The accused fled the scene on foot," Zwane said.
Nkosi was arrested shortly after the attack and charged with the rape.
"The case was transferred to Vryheid family violence, child and sexual offences unit members, who collected all required evidence by the court for the purpose of good conviction."
Zwane said Nkosi was denied bail and appeared in court on various occasions until he was convicted and sentenced in the High Court on Friday.
KwaZulu-Natal commissioner Lt-Gen Mmamonye Ngobeni said: "We as [the] South African Police Service condemn such brutal attacks on vulnerable elderly women by these heartless criminals who do not respect the rights of women and children.
"Sibusiso Nkosi, like any other criminals already convicted by our courts, do not deserve to be in our community and this sentence will send a strong message to others who might think of committing such crimes."
Wrong medications kill pregnant deaf persons - GNAD Director
March 18, 2013 | Filed under: Crime,Health,Latest news | Posted by:VibeGhana
The GNAD said the phenomenon was leading to many expectant mothers among deaf persons losing their lives while others were disheartened and disappointed, given the unfair treatment meted out to deaf persons visiting health centres across the country.
Mr James M. Sambian, Executive Director of the GNAD, made this known in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on Monday to explain the challenges death persons encounter when accessing health care.
He said lack of sign language interpreters was resulting in inappropriate diagnosis because of communication barrier among deaf patients and the hearing medical officers and the nurses.
Mr Sambian explained that the situation had resulted in the incidence of incorrect prescriptions consequently leading to preventable deaths.
The Executive Director noted that due to lack of understanding and interpretation of sign language, a medical officer in one of the health centres in the Ashanti Region sometime ago, prescribed wrong medicine to a pregnant deaf woman which consequently killed her.
To break the communication barrier and getting an intermediary, many deaf persons in most cases had to bear the entire cost of engaging a private sign language interpreter in order to access quality health.
There is also discernible discrimination at the health centres bordering on issuance of cards, visiting consulting rooms and access to information on reproductive health education.
The Executive Director appealed to the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service to train sign language interpreters to man the regional and district health centres, saying “the government should, as matter of policy sponsor health personnel to study sign language interpretation”.
As interim measure, Mr Sambian suggested the Ghana Health Service need to prepare a section of the nurses in sign language interpretation to address “the silent ordeal deaf persons go through in various health centres”.
He called on government and non-governmental organisations as well as concerned individuals to support the Association to defend the health rights of deaf persons since they had subdued and hidden disability, which is not easily noticeable.
Mr Robert Sampana, Advocacy Officer of the GNAD, said there was lack of sufficient information on deaf people pertaining to culture and language by healthcare personnel and that create enormous challenges.
He said the inability of deaf persons to access quality health care like other normal person, should be a source of concern for all.
He appealed to relatives of deaf patients to get sign language interpreters and involve death persons in family activities to prevent the isolation and trauma patients with hearing inability go through a tall times.
Mr Sampana noted it was only through the medium of sign language thatdeaf persons could enjoy and exercise their human rights and contributeto social and economic development of the country.
He added that persons with hearing inability were already suffering discrimination and stigma in employment circles and in many sectors of the economy.
He, therefore, called on government to recognize Ghana Sign Language as official language for the deaf and make provision for the employment of sign language interpreters in health care centres across the country. GNA
Deaf man (63) strikes wife’s lover with axe a
March 18, 2013 in Crime, National, News
CHINHOYI - A 63-year-old deaf man from the Mamina communal area in Mhondoro, Christmas Makomeke, has been sentenced to three years inprison for striking a fellow villager with an axe accusing him of having an affair with his wife.
Makomeke was sentenced on his own plea of guilty to attempted murder when he appeared before Chinhoyi regional magistrate Never Katiyo last week.
The court heard that the complainant Cylus Bhunu (58) sustained serious shoulder, chest and head injuries in the attack which occurred on December 5 last year.
However, Makomeke had his jail sentence wholly suspended for five year son condition of good behaviour and that he pays $500 fine before March 29.
In passing sentence, the court considered Makomeke’s advanced age as a mitigatory factor and that he was deaf and had been extremely provoked by the complainant who was, according to overwhelming evidence adduced in court, having an affair with the former’s wife.
The court heard that on December 5 last year at around 6am, Makomeke met Bhunu just outside the latter’s cattle pen.
Makomeke, who was armed with a hoe and an axe, accused Bhunu of having an affair with his wife.
Makomeke charged towards the complainant who tried to flee, but was immediately struck on the shoulder with an axe, lost balance and tumbled to the ground.
In a fit of rage, Makomeke struck Bhunu on the chest and head before the complainant managed to flee from the rampaging Makomeke.
The attack was reported to police, leading to arrest of the accused.
Nyasha Katurura prosecuted while Marshal Chitsanga represented Makomeke.
Ghana gets another visually impaired student doing Hip life
By Ghana News -SpyGhana.com
Even though being born visually impaired is synonymous with a life of despair for many, 20-year-old student Richard Larbi is bracing the odds to become a hip life artiste.
While many of his counterparts make a livelihood by begging for arms on several streets across the country, Richard Larbi is concurrently pursuing his education at the Ghana National College in Cape Coast in the Central Region, while training to become a Hip life Artiste.
Speaking to Myjoyonline.com, Richard narrated that his condition is from birth but his mother and other siblings were deserted by his father in Tema. The latter had condemned Richard as a burnt out case due to hiscondition.
Subsequently, his mother took him and his siblings to her village, Jukwa, a suburb in Cape Coast.
Asked how he got into hip life music, Richard said he discovered the talent in Junior High School even though he was not keen on it.
It was however during a “Talented Kids” Programme organised by the Cape Coast based Coastal TV that he first shone. He recounts thaten couragement from his friends pushed him to participate. Surprisingly, he came second. “That urged me to put in more efforts in my pursuit”, he noted.
In spite of challenges confronting the budding star, Richard is not leaving any stone unturned to achieve his dreams. He told Myjoyonline.com that he has featured about thrice in the Adom FM’s Kasa hare Programme; a rap show in Twi, a predominant Akan dialect.
He also has dummies of his music, but says his major challenge is funding. “I hope to go very far with my rap music but I’m just looking for sponsorship because with sponsorship you can do whatever you want to do”, he stated.
So it won’t be surprising to see Richard on a Showbiz stage either grabbing an award or rapping. It would be a combination of hard work and taking advantage of available opportunities.
President Direct Assemblies To Make Buildings Disability Friendly
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 08:45
President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana
President John Dramani Mahama yesterday tasked Metropolitan, Municipaland District Assemblies not to give permit to developers whose building plans do not make adequate provision for persons with disabilities.
He gave the assurance that government would also reconstitute the Disability Council with committed and competent persons who would continue to fight for the betterment of persons with disabilities.
President Mahama gave the directive when members of the Federation of Persons with Disabilities called on him at the Flagstaff House, Kanda.
He said persons with disabilities did not need sympathy from any Ghanaian, but rather their full integration into the society withoutdiscrimination.
President Mahama said he would refer the Federation’s demand for across-country vehicle to the Chief of Staff and assured the body of apositive response.
Mr Yaw Ofori-Debrah, Spokesperson for the delegation appealed to the government to encourage many television stations to use the signlanguage to get persons with disabilities closer to government policies.
He called for the teaching of sign language in the training colleges to facilitate its use nationwide.
Wrong diagnosis killing deaf people
The National Association of the Deaf is alarmed at the increasing death rate of its members due to wrong prescriptions and diagnosis, resulting from doctors’ lack of knowledge of sign language.
The association has therefore demanded recruitment of sign language interpreters at health facilities to correct the situation.
Narrating his ordeal to Joy News’ Hannah Odame, the President of the Association, Emmanuel Sackey recounted how he spent several hours in the Hospital because he could not hear when he was called to be attended to by the doctor.
“After about two hours when I realised all those who came to meet me had left, I wrote on a sheet of paper to them that I was deaf. That was when one nurse accompanied me for my temperature and others to be taken, ” he noted through an interpreter.
“Initially when I tried to communicate with the doctor through sign language, he started laughing at me; he couldn’t understand me,” he said. According to him, he realised that what was written down as the diagnosis was not what he complained about.
Emmanuel Sackey noted he had to go back to the hospital because he did not recover days after taking the medication prescribed for him.
In a related development, the Ghana Federation of Disabled, the umbrella association of all persons living with disability, has called for the inclusion of sign language training in the Curriculum of Teacher Training Colleges in the country to increase sign language interpreters.
The call was made when Members of the Federation called on the President. They also asked the President to have a sign language interpreter for all his outdoor assignments.
President Mahama assured the group their needs will be duly addressed under the newly created Ministry of Gender, Children and SocialProtection.
“Under the new Ministry, I'm sure there will be a new energy in dealing with issues of Persons with Disability and I'm confident that with the Minister we have, you’ll see a difference in the way your issues are handled,” the President said.
Liberia: Disabled Boy to Travel to Indonesia
19 MARCH 2013
A disabled Liberian teenager has been awarded the opportunity to travel to Indonesia as part of a team of High Level of Panel for Post 2015 Millennium Development Goals.
Samuel Dean, Jr.14 of the Florence A. Tolbert Disable Advocate Inc.(FATDA) said that this is an opportunity for all disabled childrenacross Liberia.
According to him, he is to leave Liberia before the 24th of March for Indonesia. Little Dean is however appealing to prominent individuals in the private and public sectors to assist him with some funds to help him while in Indonesia.
Angola: Over 10,000 Disabled Persons Get Job
19 MARCH 2013
Luanda - At least 10,324 people with disability were released into the job market around the country, as a result of the professional training "Vem Comigo Project" that started in 2003, Angop learned.
The information was released by the chairman of the National Association of Angola Disabled Persons (ANDA), Silva Lopes Etiambulo.
The official was speaking to Angop about the preparation of the 5th phase of the project that started to be implemented in south-eastern Kuando Kubango province.
According to Silva Etiambulo, the action is part of the programme of professional training in various fields and the consequent incorporation in agricultural and artisan fishing cooperatives, with a view to a better living of the beneficiaries.
The source added that 63 people with disability formerly resident in Luanda under poor conditions, were resettled in the municipality of Chicala Chiloango, central Huambo province, on a 407 hectares farm, with support from the Ministry of Social Welfare.
He mentioned that 904 ex-combatants with physical disability in Kuando Kubango are in dire need of various means, housing and medicalassistance. They will be assisted under the "Vem Comigo" project.
The "Vem Comigo Project" is financed by the Ministry of Public Administration, Labour and Social Security, under supervision of LwiniFoundation and ANDA coordination.
Triumphant over disabilityThe Zimbabwean
Abraham Matete (30) and Masimba Muchera (31) are two visually impaired people with inspiring life achievements that have proved that blindness is not inability. While Masimba was born visually impaired, Abraham was born with full sight only to lose it aged two.
Masimba Muchera: A braille computer changed his life.
The two did not take their disabilities as stumbling blocks on their way to success, but as challenges to be used as stepping stones to greater heights of academic and professional excellence.
No one bothered to tell Abraham how he lost his sight but he cares less since he lives a normal and happy life. He is a qualified legal practitioner in Bulawayo and a disability rights activist.
Masimba is a renowned sociologist in his own right. The two professionals are outspoken fighters for rights of people with disability.
In 1999 Masimba featured on ZTV advocating for the Electoral Act to be amended so that visually impaired people could vote with the aid of a person of their choice - not strangers chosen by the state at the polling station. The issue became nationally topical for some weeks.
“I took the fight to the 2000 referendum and caused some waves as people with conscience got excited about the proposal,” said Masimba. As his efforts failed to bear fruit at the referendum he later teamed up with five colleagues and, with assistance from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, filed an appeal with the High Court before the March 2008 elections.
A day before the presidential election run-off a statutory instrument slightly amending the Act came into effect.
Abraham Matete: lives a normal, happy life. After school Masimba was fortunate to take part in a Rotary International Youth Exchange Programme which took him to Australia for a year. Upon his return he enrolled at the University of Zimbabwe in the sociology department as he had lost his place at the faculty of law when he was in Australia.
In 2003 he was elected Secretary General for the Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe.
“By virtue of my position in the movement I interacted with civil society and the broader students’ movement. As secretary general I was also appointed board member of the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development,” said Masimba, who also contributes news articles to media houses as a pastime and hobby.
In November 2006 he joined the information department of the Students Solidarity Trust. He sits on the ZIMCODD board representing people with disabilities and is also a member of a World Council of Churches Commission called the Commission of Churches on International Affairs since 2007.
Masimba was born on 20 June 1981 and is fourth in a family of seven. His father a secretary general with the Zimbabwe Council of Churches then wondered if he would ever be able to attend school because of his handicap. But an uncle, Samson Musikavanhu, advised that he be taken to St. Giles School for the blind in Harare.
At school Masimba excelled in his studies and was well behaved which led to his nomination as prefect in 1994. The same year he wrote his grade seven national examinations and passed with nine units. He proceeded to Copota Secondary School for the blind in Masvingo where he did Ordinary Levels. His studies were conducted in Braille language.
Masimba said he owed his academic successes to Dorothy Duncan Braille Library which introduced him to the Eureka Braille computer, which is equipped with a Braille key board. This gadget enabled him to go to Prince Edward School for A Level as it could be connected to a printer for teachers to read his work. He was therefore integrated into a normal class and the computer eliminated the need for specialist teachers.
The two years at Prince Edward were a defining point in Masimba’s life as he started participating in public speaking and debating and became Chairperson of the Current Affairs Club. One of Masimba’s colleagues in the fight for rights of people with disability, Abraham, is a legal practitioner who excelled in both academic and professional studies despite being visually impaired.
He uses his legal services as a disability rights and advocacy officer with the Zimbabwe National League of the Blind. He highlighted technological advances in communication as a key area where government and other stakeholders could really make a different in the lives of people with disabilities.
“Established e-learning facilities are not friendly to people with disabilities. There is need for government to avail computers equipped with screen reading software that translates text into speech for the benefit of the visually impaired. Even at schools computer lessons leave out the blind,” said Abraham.
Government was accused of being reluctant to introduce laws aimed at improving welfare of people with disabilities, including the blind.
Abraham said government should set the framework within which organisations should operate not vice versa. “People with disabilities should be given the right to equal opportunities, independent living and granted quota allocation in all aspects of the economy among other needs, ” he said.
It is estimated that 10 percent of Zimbabwe’s population has a disability, of whom five percent are visually impaired.
Abraham was born in 1982 at Mateta Village in Hurungwe under Chief Nematombo. He lost his sight at the age of two and at six was enrolled at Jairosi Jiri Centre for the Handicapped for primary education. He stayed there for only grade one studies and moved to Kuredza Primary School for grades two to seven.
After primary school he attended Copota Secondary School for one term before transferring to Kadoma School for the Blind and then John Tallack Secondary School in Bulawayo and Lower Gweru Adventist, where he did his A Levels. He went on to study law at the University of Zimbabwe and then worked for two years as a law officer at the offices of the Ombudsman.
“Our major role at the Ombudsman was to reconcile the governed and government,” he said.
Uganda: Man Who Allegedly Raped Deaf, Mute and Blind Sister Found Dead in Lake
By HANNAH OSBORNE: Subscribe to Hannah's RSS feed
March 20, 2013 4:59 PM GMT
Disabled Sanyu was raped in 2007 when she was 13 (Equality Now - photo not of Sanyu) A man who is believed to have raped and impregnated his 13-year-old deaf, blind and mute sister in Uganda has been found dead in a lake.
Sanyu was attacked in 2007 and she gave birth the following year. Because of her disability, she was unable to identify her rapist so her mother called for DNA testing of her father and three brothers - the only men in contact with her.
The Ugandan police did not take DNA samples and the government did not respond to a test request by Legal Action for Persons with Disabilities, which was contacted by Sanyu's mother. The case was then closed.
However, three years later Human rights group Equality Now raised funds for the DNA test and findings showed the baby's father was genetically of the same paternal line. Following pressure from the group and media attention, police re-opened the case.
Tests showed that Sanyu's father and two of her brothers were not responsible. But the third brother, who had run away from home, was not tested.
Police made no effort to trace the missing brother but he was recently found dead in a lake. Equality Now is calling for a DNA test to prove he raped and impregnated the teenager and get Sanyu justice.
Disabled girls vulnerable to rape
The brother has already been buried so Equality Now and LAPD want his clothes tested.
Muthoni Muriithi, programme officer at Equality Now, said: "Equality Now and our partners are seriously disturbed by the lack of a thorough investigation and the five-year delay in ensuring justice for Sanyu.
"To ensure that Sanyu and other girls in similar situations get justice, Equality Now calls on the government of Uganda to conduct DNA testing onthe body of the remaining suspect at its own expense without delay and to take additional steps to improve the investigation process and prosecution rate in sexual violence cases involving victims with disabilities."
By not continuing the investigation, the group says the Ugandan government is enabling continued impunity for Sanyu's attacker.
Sexual violence is widespread in Uganda and disabled girls and women are particularly vulnerable. For a quarter of women between the ages of 15 and 49, rape is their first experience of sexual intercourse.
Muriithi added: "[The 2006 Ugandan Demographic and Health Survey showed] 20 percent of Ugandans have disabilities. The government, however, does not take the additional steps needed to ensure justice for disabled victims of sexual violence by implementing investigative techniques that would help facilitate the process."
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Rwanda: Disabled Street Beggars to Be Evacuated By 2015
BY NOEL TURIKUMWE, 20 MARCH 2013
The National Council of Persons living with Disabilities (NCPD) plans to evacuate all street beggars who are disabled by 2015 through initiating them in different economic activities.
The Executive Secretary of NCPD, Emmanuel Ndayisaba, said the project will be executed in collaboration with Rwandan Cultural Health Centre (RCHC), the institution which embodies psychologists and counsellors.
Ndayisaba explains that they chose to work with RCHC because begging sometimes may happen as a mental problem rather than poverty, certainly RCHC will help their inclusion in normal activities.
The project will start with 16 districts by conducting research to get necessary information about disabled beggars, including their identification and reasons behind their choice, among others.
The NCPD said that after information gathering, the beggars will be trained in different economic activities based on their wish, kind of disability and domain of interest.
Meanwhile, a plan has been designed to sensitise disabled beggars to shun the deplorable habit.
The officials say that some of them do not go to the streets necessarily because of poverty but instead some have made it a supplementary 'business' to sustain their other activities.
Adolphe Uwase, an official at Gasabo district says that persons with disabilities should be enlisted to encourage their colleagues to leave the streets.
"If normal people sensitise disabled ones against begging, it sometimes becomes difficult because they think they do not understand their predicament, therefore not in position to lecture them on what to do. They would better understand their fellow disabled," she said.
Parents asked not to confine children with intellectual disability
Ghana News Agency
Thursday 21st March, 2013
Accra, March 21, GNA - Parents of children with Intellectual Disability (ID) have been advised not to hide or confine their children into seclusion, but to ensure their proper development and integration into society.
Mr Auberon Jeleel Odoom, National Co-ordinator, of Inclusion Ghana, a non-governmental organization (NGO), which focuses on children with Intellectual Disability, made the call at a gathering of parents of children with ID from all over Ghana, in Accra on Thursday.
He appealed to parents to acquire knowledge on ID to enable them take good care of their children.
Mr Odoom asked society to stop the stigmatization of such children so that their parents would stop confining them.
Mr Odoom called on government to enact laws specifically on the handling of ID children to prevent them from being abused and discriminated against.
He called for the placement of special doctors at the various government hospitals to take good care of ID children, since they needed special care when they fell sick.
Mr Odoom said the NGO was working to educate parents of children with ID on how to take good care of them.
He said the NGO has branches in all the ten regions of the country, and called on parents with ID children to seek more information and knowledge on handling their children.
Mr Odoom expressed his appreciation to STAR Ghana for donating 0,000 to the NGO to implement its activities.
“We have also received 20,000.00 dollars from the Disability Right, an American NGO, to specifically help us address issues pertaining to discrimination against children with ID”, he said.
Mr Odoom appealed to parents of children with ID to send them to special schools for children with disability.
In an open forum, parents appealed to each other to always ensure that their children were well dressed, report teachers and people who abused such children, to the appropriate authorities and also spend more time with their children.
How kibaha`s hearing impaired made it
BY LUCAS LUKUMBO
21st March 2013
Official of the Tanzania Association of the Deaf in Kibaha pose in group photo with some members of the public
The deaf in Kibaha have made it. In what the district officials and the public in Kibaha have termed ‘one of the biggest achievement for people with disabilities in the country’ the Tanzania Association of the Deaf (TAD)-Kibaha has managed to train some of its officials in some strategic areas in the district in sign language so that they could handle their cases easily when they go for services.
Secretary of the Tanzania Association of the Deaf (TAD) Kibaha District Tatu Kondo says some of the officials in these offices like the police, hospital and bank have been trained so that when the deaf go for services, they could understand them and therefore attend to their proplems with ease.
She says it has been very difficult for many of the deaf to be attended to by these very strategic institutions because the officials could not understand them.
“Our members for example could not be understood with people at the hospital where they went for medical service. Which means it was difficult to get the right medication,” she said.
She also said that when they have to explain something at the police, once it was difficult to be understood because poor knowledge of the sign language on the part of the police.
‘Likewise the same difficulties were experienced with the deaf when they went for banking services,” she said “All this is the thing of the past. We have trained these officials and our members and non-members can now be understood by these officials. Thank God, our strategy has worked out,” she says.
She says that some of the teachers in Kibaha have been taught how to deal with the deaf children.
To make sure that deaf children get the necessary education TAD-Kibaha has earmarked three primary schools in the district where the deaf children are registered. They are Kongowe Primary School, Maili Moja Primary School and Tanita Primary School.
Started in 2002 TAD Kibaha has a membership of 1149 in the region. The region comprises of Bagamoyo, Mafia, Kibaha Urban, Kibaha Rural, Mkuranga, Rufiji and Kisarawe.
The aim of the organization is to empower the deaf community to contribute to the well-being of their families and the country at large.
She says when the organization started a big percentage of the deaf children were not attending school.
“There are still more children within the family circles who are not attending school just because their parents think they cannot make it,” she says.
She says the deaf are normally not invited to attend marriage ceremonies, mourning ceremonies. Deaf children are not sent on an errand by their parents just like other children making them lose hope and confidence.
“At times being deaf is just like you are suffering an incurable disease.
In 2004 TAD-Kibaha implemented a project aimed at creating awareness for the deaf and those who care for them. The project included three more districts in the region which are Rufiji, Mafia and Kisarawe. This made the districts under the project to be six.
It was aimed at educating parents and those who take care of the deaf children on how best to handle the deaf children.
“In fact we initiated a club for parents who have deaf children. They are doing very well,” she said.
As if that is not enough, the organization is offering periodical teachings on how best to communicate with the deaf to members of the public.
“Every Sunday between 3pm and 6 pm we are holding a class of people who want to understand the sign language. Some Sundays, the attendance reaches 20 people. We are happy for that,” she says.
She says the organization has asked for civic education but has yet to get it.
“We have failed to make a follow-up of the constitution debate because of lack of interpreter for us,” she says.
The Kibaha district TAD Treasurer Shaban Salum says the deaf have always been stigmatized and downgraded by community they live in.
Doto Abdallah, Member of the Implementation Committee of the TAD Kibaha District says the deaf have no special schools and teachers for them in the region.
“Countrywide what we have realized is that many of the schools for the deaf are private and very few are public,” she says.
In this way the deaf especially women were mostly affected in every aspect of the daily life.
“Before the project, we could not reach girls to teach the life skills and issues that concern women generally. For example when the girls were in their menstruation periods for the first time, they did not know what to do. In fact many of them thought they have been bewitched. This is because there were no specific education for them,” she said, adding, “They only acquired the knowledge through peers whom at times did not give them the right information.
A member of the association, Shabani Salum says it was high time for TV stations to have people versed in sign language who can interpret what ever is announced over the TV.
“This a denial of the basic human right ? that right to information. We have not taken part in the on-going debates on constitutional debates just because there is no one assigned to inform us through the sign language,” he says.
A member of the organization Yahaya Kimeya says, one of the biggest challenges of the deaf in Kibaha and Tanzania is the poverty which lingers amongst the deaf. He said it could be wise if the deaf were taught skills like making batik, laundry soap and others to bail them from poverty.
They asked for government help in providing them with the Constitution book-let.
He advised the government to find a mechanism in such a way that the deaf and other people with disabilities could be represented in Parliament.
“One MP cannot speak for all the people with disabilities. For example, the problem of the deaf are quite different from those of albino although they all belong to a category of physically challenged people, ” he says. This time around, TAD-Kibaha has requested 149,740,800/- from Foundation for Civil Society to be able to train its members and other people on financial regulations, project management, monitoring, assessment, civic education and good governance. This will take them to 2015 and would cover the six districts in the region.
Disabled 'have no reason to celebrate'
2013/03/22 | PATIENCE BAMBALELE | 5 COMMENTS
WHILE the country celebrated Human Rights Day yesterday, people living with disabilities were still marginalised.
We are not free yet. I don't think government will ever manage to get its departments to employ at least 2% of the disabled
This is according to independent disability analyst and human rights activist Majic Nkhwashu, who told Sowetan that people with disabilities had no reason to celebrate.
"We are not free yet. I don't think government will ever manage to get its departments to employ at least 2% of the disabled ."
Nkhwashu said the biggest challenge was the attitude of abled persons towards them and that the public transport modes did not accommodate them. "Disabled people struggle to access transport. It is so difficult to live in this country as a disabled person."
SA Human Rights Day spokesman Isaac Mangena said despite the positive development, the SAHRC remained concerned about the criminalisation of torture, violence against women and girls, lack of access to water and sanitation, access to basic education, foreign migrants and discrimination against persons with disabilities at workplaces.
Women and Men Against Child Abuse advocacy manager Germaine Vogel said though she was proud to celebrate Human Rights Day, the country had a lot to do to decrease violence against women and children. -
Masaka deaf are sign language illiterate
Publish Date: Mar 25, 2013
sign language can be taught and examined at both O and A level.
By Ali Mambule
Most deaf people in Masaka and the neighbouring districts cannot communicate well because they are sign language illiterate, a district official revealed.
Masaka district rehabilitation officer, Michael Miiro said that most deaf people in the area have not had the chance of being taught sign language in school.
“We have schools teaching sign language, but in Masaka, there are only three which do so at primary level. There is none at secondary level,” he said.
Miiro was inspecting schools for people with disabilities in Masaka recently during which he urged the Government to ensure that all schools offer sign language lessons.
The district official made it clear that just like other languages, sign language can be taught and examined at both O’ and A’ level.
“Teaching sign-language would enable our society communicate with these people and stop the marginalisation they face,” he said.
He expressed dismay at employers denying people with disabilities (PWDs) jobs and commended Mary Kabiito, the proprietor of Kakunyu School for Children With Special Needs in Lwengo district for taking care of children with disabilities.
He also called for more support for the school.
Kabiito said some parents enrol children with disabilities in schools without providing for their upkeep, and she called on Government to not only enact strict laws to punish such parents, but also have them implemented.
William Obella, a teacher at Masaka School for Special Needs, said apart from two schools in Mbale and Wakiso, Uganda does not have any other secondary school for deaf students.
CBN spends N2.9m on hostel project at Plateau school for deaf
Daily Times Nigeria
ARTICLE | MARCH 26, 2013 - 7:42AM | BY AUGUSTINE AMINU
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it spent N2.9 million to renovate a block of students’ hostel at the Plateau School for the Deaf, Rukuba, in Bassa Local Government.
The CBN Deputy Governor Operations, Mr Tunde Lemo, who was represented by Mrs Tope Omage, Director, Branch Operations disclosed this at the inauguration of the hostel in Jos.
He explained that the project was executed by direct labour with the CBN Alms Contribution Scheme.
Lemo said that the alms contributory scheme was initiated in 2002 by Joseph Sanusi, former governor of the bank to help the less privilege in the society.
``Sanusi considered the social menace of the street beggars and he thought of a way to keep them off the streets by making them self-sufficient instead of being perpetual dependents.
``Rather than give them money directly, there was designated pool at the bank where such contributions were paid into.
``But like a Chinese proverb, instead of giving them a fish we teach them how to catch a fish and that is what we have been doing.
`` When a man is poor he is desperate and that results to insecurity.
``If there is no peace there will be no economic activity and if there is no economic activity then there will be poverty. This is vicious circle that must be checked,’’ he said.
Lemo said that the staff scheme had executed projects worth millions of naira that had direct impacts on the lives of people considered to be less privilege.
The deputy governor called on the Plateau government to collaborate with corporate organisations and agencies to add value to the lives of its people particularly those with disabilities.
CBN Jos Branch Controller, Mr Mathias Kurah, in his remarks said that the staff had executed similar projects in some parts of Plateau.
Kurah said that it was the turn of the deaf after CBN had addressed some needs in a hospital in Mangu and at the School of the Blind in Zawan.
Kefas Koptung, Principal of the school who commended CBN for the gesture and urged other organisations to emulate the bank.
According to him, ``feeding our students is one of the major problems we are encountering.
``Again the dining hall is bad, it leaks and that makes it difficult for the students to come out and get their food particularly during raining season ,’’ he said.
Mr Obaje Yahaya, PTA Chairman of the school also appealed to government and corporate organisations to support the school to gain back its lost glory.
Students with disability demand accessible facilities
From: Ghana lJoy News
Published On: March 26, 2013, 11:16 GMT
Students with disability at the University of Ghana are demanding disability friendly facilities from the school authorities, whom they claim have refused to ensure same.
The students, who have bemoaned the level of accessibility to almost all facilities including the library and ICT centre, blame the authorities for their plight.
Speaking to Joy News, President of University of Ghana Association of the Disabled David Kofigah said the university authorities have neglected their concerns.
“Persons with disability are being admitted into the university with no facilities for them; the least said about the facilities in the halls, the better” he emphasised.
According to him, each time the association planned on embarking on demonstration in protest of the inaccessible facilities, the authorities would dissuade them.
The disabled students also want government to pay their bursaries for brails and other materials they need for school work.
Rwanda: Visually Impaired Students Hope for a Brighter Future
BY JEAN D'AMOUR MBONYINSHUTI, 26 MARCH 2013
It is wonderful seeing how a visually impaired person reads or writes without the use of physical eyesight. One wonders how they write and they read. As Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti writes,
the loss of sight seems to be compensated for by an enhanced sense of touch as seen by their use of fingers to read and write.
The sense of sight is clearly one of the most important and much more important when one is a learner. Losing this sense is always a problem especially when it happens later on in life. Some of visually impaired people develop stigma once they lose their sight thinking it is the end of the world for them.
Some of them however have not allowed this to hold them back and have joined schools where special needs are properly taken care of. These have gone on to study from primary to university as normal students, they have been affected differently but they all share the same hope of a bright future.
It is wonderful seeing how a visually impaired person reads or writes without the use of physical eyesight. One wonders how they write and read. The loss of sight seems to be compensated for by an enhanced sense of touch as seen by their use of fingers to read and write.
They write using their Braille writing machine whereby they touch what the machine has typed on a tough paper. When they are writing, the one using a pen can't finish before them and it applies even when reading.
Some visually impaired students from HVP Gatagara in Rwamagana and Groupe Scolarire de Gahini both in the Eastern Province talked to The New Times expressed their feelings before and after they get disabled. However some of them were born blind and didn't have any comparison.
Frederick Habarugira, 30 and a second year student at HVP Gatagara said that he lost sight in 2005 when he was shot by burglars who broke into his home. He remained hopeless until 2010 when he joined Masaka Rehabilitation Center in Kicukiro.
"It was not easy to believe that my life would again be okay as I thought without eyes I could do nothing. I thought I was going to be a burden to the family as well as society," Habarugira narrates.
"I heard over the radio that there are schools teaching people with visual impairment and I joined Masaka Rehabilitation Center where a was taught how to write in Braille, and after 6 months I joined this [HVP Gitagara] school," he says
"I now study well and hope my future is bright despite my age, I hope I will finish secondary as well as university, I hope I will make it and become an environmentalist," says Frederick. For people thinking we need sympathy of any kind, they are mistaken as we are able to do most of activities such as washing, cleaning, cooking and I can iron all my clothes for myself," he adds
Zachalie Dushimirimana, 17, and a senior one student at Groupe Scholaire de Gahini secondary school said he became visually impaired when he was only eight months as he was told by his parents.
"My parents didn't want me to study saying a visually impaired child can't study. They didn't also treat me like others. I used to cry and ask them to take me to school too. I went in a primary school where I used to learn theoretically and my exams were oral ones," Dushimirimana remembers.
"We now have machines we use and we use our fingers to read, we also have ICT and can use internet as others do. If I manage to complete my university studies I will be a teacher or lecturer," he adds
For visually impaired people, they use various software with voices installed in computers that guide them for each operation they do. Whenever they navigate with their computers the software speaks to them and they can know where they are.
Information from both HVP Gatagara and Groupe Scholaire de Gahini reveals that visually impaired students tend to have better performance compared to other people without this challenge. For instance last year in HVP Gatagara 5 out of 11 students passed O 'level exams while 4 out of 17 passed in primary leaving exams.
"I am sure that my future is bright despite all the challenges, the kind of disability I have has become a kind of motivation in turn, I know that when I don't study hard I won't get any means to survive, I aim high and the sky is the limit," says Uwiringiyimana Neema 17 and a S. 1 student at Groupe Scholaire de Gahini.
Despite more efforts by the Government, parents and sponsors to support visually impaired people and the will of the affected to continue their studies, there are still a number of challenges on the road ahead.
For instance the equipment and materials that they use daily is quite expensive and can only be imported. The white canes they use for mobility are also expensive and most of the above materials are got from donors.
More importantly special needs' schools in Rwanda are still very few to cater for those with such challenges. Students still come from very far to study in the Eastern Province which ads extra cost in terms of transport to and from the school.
"As we study literature, it is very difficult to pass as we are asked about various novels in exams yet we never read them. Normal people have the same novel they read and we sit the same exams, we should get the same translated books," said Erenestine Umutoni a S5 languages student.
According to the Executive Secretary of Rwanda Union of the Blind (RUB), the number of visually impaired students enrolled in school is still very low due to inadequate support. "We are unable to enrol all the students due to limited funds. But we still have a significant number of people whom we need in school," said Kanima.
According to Jean Maurice Muhire, dean of studies at HVP Gatagara, the students get difficulties in adaptation only but after that they behave like normal people or even better.
"How they perform is inspiring, no one can think they can do better at the beginning. They are also talented enough especially oral talent such as singing and expressing themselves through speeches and we often organize internal competitions to motivate them," he said
The school also has a media club which helps them to organise different activities.
How they sit for National exams:
Visually impaired people sit for the same exam as normal people but for them they are not given drawings and maps interpretation. Instead, they are given extra questions to cover for that section.
Their exams are translated in Braille for them to do but again translated back to normal writing, mixed with other copies and marked without bias. So far over 20 visually impaired people have completed university and some are gainfully employed.
Ashanti School for the Deaf appeals for infrastructural support
Mr Kofi Oti-Frimpong, Headmaster of the Ashanti School for the Deaf in Jamasi has appealed to government to support the school with basic infrastructural facilities for smooth teaching and learning to take place.
The shortfall in classrooms, dormitories and furniture as well as toilet facilities was seriously affecting smooth academic work, he said.
The headmaster made the appeal when the GNA visited the school on Monday to ascertain the impact of the teachers’ industrial strike on academic work.
As at 1000 hours, most teachers including the headmaster were at post; while pupils and students were responding to lessons in their respective classes.
Mr Oti-Frimpong told the GNA that the acute infrastructural deficit has resulted in overcrowding in classrooms and dormitories.
He expressed worry about the conditions that the pupils were being exposed to, saying that, it could lead to the outbreak or the spread of contagious diseases.
Mr Oti-Frimpong said, in a deaf school, a teacher is expected to handle a minimum of five pupils and a maximum of ten; the situation as it is in the school, teachers are compelled to handle a minimum of 29 and a maximum of 50.
He said every school going child needed to go to school as the constitution stipulates, but dormitories have become a big challenge to deaf children, adding “they cannot be denied education as a result of their circumstances”.
He bemoaned high number of teachers leaving the school because of unattractive conditions coupled with tight supervision role.
“Teachers in specialized schools are entitled to one Ghana Cedi allowance a month; however, it is not even forthcoming,” he said.
According to Mr Oti-Frimpong, feeding and administrative grants are not only insufficient, but government does not release it on time.
He added “since May 2012 up to date such grants have not been released making it extremely difficult to run the school”.
He pleaded with government to ensure timely release of feeding and administrative grants for smooth running of the school.
The school’s authority also called on public spirited individuals, non- governmental and governmental organisations to provide sufficient tables and chairs for teachers, dining hall tables and benches as well as classrooms desks.
The only clinic that takes care of the special needs of the deaf pupils have been abandoned due to the refusal of health professionals to be posted there.
The 34 seater water closet has also been closed down due to the lack of water, with no option for staff and pupils than having to make do with a pit latrine.
The Ashanti school for the deaf was established in 1977 with nine pupils but today its population stands at 571 with 57 teachers.
It is the only special education institution for the deaf in the Ashanti region. As a result of the strategic geographical location of the school, most parents outside the catchment area prefer sending their deaf children to the school.
The school has five departments namely, Kindergarten, Primary School, Junior High School, Assessment Centre and Vocational department.
But the headmaster said the vocational department is fading out because of lack tools to work with.
Kenya: George Mugare - Young Artist With Eye for Details
28 MARCH 2013
George Mugare,12, from Sipili School for the Deaf is a wonderful artist. His images of wildlife are amazing. He is full of imagination. "The real measure of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination," said the world's greatest scientist Albert Einstein. Imagination is not a product of your senses but a product of your thinking. Art develops your thinking. George is truly intelligent!
Young Kenyans can enter their artworks (paintings, drawings, prints, collages, or works made out of recycled or natural materials) to the national art competition, the 2013 Mask Art Prize. You can win prizes and get an opportunity to exhibit in Nairobi and London.
Send your artworks on the theme 'What makes you proud about Kenya' to:
The 2013 Mask Art Prize, Elsamere Centre, P.O. Box 1497, Naivasha, or via email, before May 1. For full entry rules visit:
Kenya: Special Schools Receive Grant
BY REUBEN OLITA, 28 MARCH 2013
TWO special schools in Teso South yesterday benefited from Sh4.7m grant from National Council for People with Disabilities.
St Brigit Secondary School for the Deaf received Sh2.6m for construction of two dormitories while Alupe Special School got Sh2.1m to put up one dormitory.
The council co-ordinator for Western Leonard Dawafula said money for the intended projects had been wired to schools accounts.
Accompanied by Busia TSC county director Mary Atalitsa, Dawafula said the council will furnish the projects once they are complete.
At St Brigit School in Akoret, Dawafula said the council will soon roll out a programme where all parents with deaf children will undergo training in Kenya sign language.
"We don't want a situation where a deaf child goes home and is unable to communicate with their parents in sign language," he said.
Dawafula, who was accompanied by school Principal Eddah Karachi and acting Board chairman Augustine Emojong warned parents against discriminating disabled children.
He said NCPWD was assisting 70 people with disabilities from every constituency with Sh2,000 each as subsistence allowance.
Kenya: Kericho Disabled Want Nominee Seat
BY SONU TANU, 28 MARCH 2013
Disabled people in Kericho want the list of nominees forwarded to the IEBC cancelled. Kericho town chairman of the disabled persons Moses Ooko said the individual nominated from Kericho is not one of their members.
He said the nominee will not be able to articulate issues affecting the disabled in the town. Addressing the press in Kericho town, Ooko said the organisation was not consulted.
"The Advisory Board totally disregarded and violated the provisions of Article 90 of the constitution which provides special seats for special interest group. Association of the Physically Disabled in Kenya will accuse the IEBC of attempting to deny them their constitutional right," Ooko said.
Kenya: Trans Mara Disabled Furious Over Nomination Slots
BY EDWIN NYARANGI, 28 MARCH 2013
Trans Mara Association of People with Disabilities has said the union was not consulted during nominations for county seats in Narok county.
The union officials said they plan to move to court to block the process, claiming they do not know those forwarded by political parties and cannot articulate their issues.
Led by chairman Paul Nyukul, vice chairman Paul Korinko and Secretary Roselyn Mantu, the members said they were not aware of the criteria used to pick the nominees.
Speaking after a two-day workshop in Kilgoris town, the officials said their members have not benefited from the exercise and wondered how their interests will be taken care of.
"We are only asking for what rightfully belongs to us and we can not allow a few individuals who are politically connected to take seats reserved for the disabled as per the constitutional requirements," said Nyukul.
He said if the parties do not listen to their complaints, they will use the recall clause provided for in the constitution to get rid of those who may have illegally earned their nominations slots.
Korinko said the four slots allocated to them were not adequate and called for balanced representation by considering the vastness of the Narok county.
"The county stretches from the border of Nakuru to that of Serengeti in Tanzania and the four positions offered to the disabled are not enough," said Korinko.
Disabled International Foundation Sierra Leone (Dif-Sil) official launching in London
Sierra Express Media-2013/03/30
By: SEM Contributor on March 30, 2013.
Saturday, 9th of March 2013 witnessed the grand launching of the Disabled International Foundation events in the United Kingdom. The launching was a wonderful success by all standards, and took place at the prestigious Pennarth Hall in the South East of London offering fruitful discussions and performances which focused on the issue of Disabilities in Sierra Leone.
The guest list included dignitaries, influential personalities in the Sierra Leone Community, others from different member states and people from all walks of life were present to grace the occasion. Guests were thrilled and overwhelmed to have witnessed one of the most successful and well organized events that has been held in the United Kingdom.
The keynote speaker for the night was the Minister Counselor and Head of Chancery at the Sierra Leone High Commission to the United Kingdom his Highness, Mr Sahr Prince Demba who uttered his happiness and pleasure for the launch of the foundation and warmly welcomed other attending guests including senior diplomats from the Embassy.
He further applauded the founder, Imambay Kadie Kamara for her courage and tremendous effort in highlighting the barriers faced by persons with disability in Sierra Leone. On behalf of the foundation, he pleaded to the Public, the Sierra Leone Government, the British Government, and the international Community towards the plights of the disabled for support.
The award winning Imambay Kadie Kamara, founder and CEO of “The Disabled International Foundation in Sierra Leone,” was at her best delivering a well prepared speech that echoed the barriers and problems faced by disabled people living in Sierra Leone and the need for the government, NGO’S and other Social Institution to look at the issue as a serious social dilemma that ‘needs immediate attention’. She provided an insight and thoughts on how such social barriers affect the lives of the most vulnerable people (the disabled) in the Sierra Leone Society.
Disabled International Foundation wishes to thank all the guests who were fortunate enough to be present to witness the launching and hopes they enjoyed the various stage performances which really climaxed the programme. In future, the organizer hopes to put on similar events, especially for those who were unable to attend the previous event.
DIF-SIL intends to keep all supporters updated with any information, ideas or issues that arise on disability in Sierra Leone to increase awareness.
Last but not least, Disabled International Foundation Sierra Leone, hopes all guest prioritized the purpose of what the organization is doing and took away the message that each individual can HELP CREATE AWARENESS & HELP TO ELIMINATE THE BARRIERS FACING THE DISABLED PEOPLE IN OUR BELOVED SIERRA LEONE.
Zim to host Zita champs
The Zimbabwe Standard
March 31, 2013 in Sport
ZIMBABWE International Taekwondo Association (Zita) will host the second Africa Taekwondo Championships next month in Harare.
BY TATENDA KUNAKA
The championships are set for May 30 to June 3 at Emerald Hill school for the Deaf.
In an interview with Standardsport, Zita public relations and event director Eyahra Mathazia said Zimbabwe was seconded to host the championships by the continent.
“The event will be a blessing to our local fighters as this is going to enable them to participate in a international event and aim to achieve better standards at that level.
“The event, which will be attended by participants from Asia and Europe, is set to improve the standards of our local participants. “At the moment, I cannot say how many countries are coming but nine have confirmed participation and we are still waiting for responses from others,” said Mathazia.
Some of the countries that have confirmed participation include South Africa, United States, Nigeria, Korea, Ethiopia, Zambia and Malawi.
Mathazia added that Team Zimbabwe was working on the final touches to their preparations.
Zita has over 600 members. The association was resuscitated with the help of Taekwondo Federation of Africa (TFA) which is a member of the international governing body, International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) headed by Korean army general Choi Hong Hi.
Hooray, teaching profession bill: Reactions
Zambia Daily Mail
Posted by online editor on Mar 31st, 2013 // No Comment
CHATTING EDUCATION with KENNETH CHIMESE
AN ‘aggressive’ teaching profession bill- That is what one reader, a ‘worried teacher’, called the Teaching Profession Bill which the Minister of Education presented to Parliament earlier this month. The minister hopes that the Act, amongst other things, will pave way for the creation of the Teaching Council which shall be responsible for ensuring high levels of professionalism amongst teachers and regulate the registration of teachers by the Council, monitor their professional conduct and ensure quality training of teachers by teacher education institutions in the country.
This column discussed some of the key elements of the bill in last Sunday’s edition of this newspaper. Through this column’s chatting with a number of teachers and members of the general public, it is apparent a good number of them are unaware there is such a Bill being enacted. In fact Chatting Education has not had the luck of chatting with a single person from ordinary teachers or parents who had foreknowledge of the draft bill. So when ‘worried teacher’ calls the bill ‘aggressive’, this column is not surprised! For now, Chatting Education can only reproduce the email sent to the column on the night the article was published - 24th March 2013.
I have read your article in the Sunday Mail of 24 March, 2013 Vol 20, No. 12 and the article’s heading is ‘Hooray, teaching profession bill.’
The bill, good as it may sound, is aggressive … due to the following points I have noted:
1. Functions of the Teaching Council: the functions of the council as outlined are good and I have no objection
2. Teacher recruitment or registration: I agree with the bill that registration of teachers should be (based on the strength of) an applicant’s qualifications (from) a recognised institution such as our existing teacher training colleges and the universities in Zambia. But the aggressive side of such registration may disadvantage a good number of applicants because an application may either be rejected or accepted by the Council. Is there going to be fairness with this registration (in) this age when corruption has become the centre stage in our big offices? Now that the government is still at pains to employ many teachers as each year it fails to reach the intended target, how will the Council manage to capture such a required number since there shall be a system of selecting or rejecting…when applying? Some applicants may be rejected despite having good qualifications or required documents (because of corruption).
I feel that the current system of recruiting teachers is better than what the minister is suggesting in the new bill. It is just important to ensure that verification of documents for applicants is done with care in order to avoid employing fake teachers. Loop-holes just need to be filled.
3. The Bill should clarify the terms ‘unsound mind’ and ‘undischarged bankrupt’. Mind you in the Teaching Service (TS) there are some teachers with disabilities employed by the Government. The most common teachers with disabilities are Blind Teachers, Deaf Teachers and Physically Challenged teachers. Under which area of the bill are these teachers mentioned…? Does it mean these teachers may be denied registration because of a disability? One has to remember that such teachers had gone to school … as Special Needs Students. Therefore, the bill should state clearly the term unsound mind lest applicants with disabilities are classified as persons of unsound mind and be denied employment when applying for consideration in the teaching profession.
The minister should also ensure that the new Council protects interests of disabled applicants as first priority lest they end up being discriminated against their right to employment by the Teaching Council. Also the minister should bear in mind that disabled students are usually not competent enough compared to those without any disabilities due to a number of factors which the minister is aware of. Therefore the new bill should state clearly how disabled teachers may be deployed taking on board the degree of disability of the applicant.
The term ‘undischarged bankruptcy’ is not clear. Does the bill mean that those to be employed need to be teachers already with assets such as a good car, a good house or good money in the applicant’s account at a recognised bank or what does it take to employ an applicant?
4. Teachers already employed by the Teaching Service: Will teachers already employed by government be declared redundant and requested to re-apply? Where a teacher happens to be rejected despite having served for a good number of years in the teaching service, what would be the way forward for such a teacher? The bill seems to have not said anything on the above question.
The minister needs to embark on tour of the country so that teachers are made aware of the new bill lest it instils fear among the few teachers that are already in our schools in Zambia, and clarify a lot of issues on the new bill so that teachers already in the teaching service, including persons with disabilities, understand the advantages … of the new bill. The minister can then hear their views about the new bill and he can answer questions that may come from the teachers.
What I have read in the article, good as it may be, still has an aggressive side that the minister needs to clarify… Let there be good … from the new bill than a bitter pill for the teacher applicants… And I hope that the bill will not lay off many teachers through a Council that may be put in places. May I be corrected over certain areas of the bill that worry me? Thank you and we love the minister.
>From a worried teacher
And a ‘Concerned Zambian Citizen’ of Siavonga also sent a text message through SMS which read, “There are many things which are lacking in this Act which will affect the success of the Teaching Council. (This will lead to) a crisis for teachers. Teachers are subjected to the most difficult conditions (of service. Why is the Act only targeting teachers and not civil servants across the board?”
Clearly these are indicators of the discomforts and anxieties that have been ignited by the Teaching Profession Bill. ‘Concerned Citizen’ spells doom for the Council! He does not state the ‘many things’ which are lacking in the Bill but he is obviously apprehensive and wonders why only teaching should have such a law enacted. But this column feels that perhaps the introduction of the Teaching Profession Act needs should be seen as a tool that will help correct professional failings by those that are charged with the responsibility of guiding students on a path to education. Teaching is indeed a profession.
Such a law might just be an antidote to such problems as one which was relayed to this column by one Copperbelt University student after he had read the same story, “Hooray, the Teaching profession Bill”. To the number 0966 902506 he texted, “There is a problem at CBU here in Kitwe. What is the cell number for the education minister or relevant office (please)?… Three quarters of students going into third year (I am one of them) have a subject not marked; meaning that they are carrying a subject to 3rd year. … School management is not doing anything about it. HELP!
Perhaps it is issues and complaints such as this which the Teaching Profession Act is aimed at curtailing as it is a case of a teacher or lecturer failing in his or her professional commitments not to assess and grade a student after a prescribed course of study. Doctored results have been reported from various institutions and it is hoped that observance of professionalism will be enhanced through the enactment of the Teaching Profession Act. Numerous questions have been raised by Worried Teacher, and indeed there is a heavy undertone of worry, some which cannot just be waved away as baseless. The minister may have overlooked the input of the professionals that the bill is intended to serve.
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org, 0966 902506, 0974 469073