The National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCDP) in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs on Saturday 3rd December 2016 joined other countries to celebrate the International Disability Day on the Theme: “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future, What We Want for Sierra Leone”.
The events also marked the 10 anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disable Persons and were held at the Car Wash, Youyi Building in Freetown.
Frederick Kamara, NCDP Chairman stated that the date was set aside by the UNGA after the decade of the Disables from 1082 to 1992.
He was the day was to remember disables around the world to send the message that they are an essential component of society.
He said in Sierra Leone starting from 2012 the commemoration took a new twist when President Koroma graced it along with several other Ministers of government and is to be celebrated at regional with this year supposed to be hosted in Kenema but because of limited resources.
He said despite such, all regional offices still organize symposiums in observance of the day and went further to appeal on his colleagues to continue to exercise patient as it takes time to address all their issues.
He said it was in 209 that Sierra Leone ratified the United Nations Convention on Persons with Disabilities which led to it domestication and the drafting of the 42 sections Act which clearly spells out the need for persons with to benefit from certain facilities which are yet forth coming.
He said implementation of the Act takes time but there is hope that most of the issues would be attended to as they have already put together the 2014 Strategic Plan and working with eight line Ministries while other are also important as they deal with accessibility.
He lamented on the lack of adequate staff, mobility to carry out their activities citing the Regions where he said they only have regional Coordinators and so supporting Staff.
Mr. Kamara stated also that the Commission is faced with financial difficulty as it is 100 percent government funded disclosing that their allocations are not forth- coming and if they doom it is always late, thus preventing them from under tasking their activities in full.
He therefore appealed to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to always fast track their allocations to avoid such.
Chief Commissioner Kamara further stated that the Commission is not a charitable organization but was established by government to channel the causes of all disables , the reason he called on all disables to utilize such an opportunity, adding, “if you are illegally sacked from your job, come to us, we will channeled your concerns, If you are illegally evicted from your house please come to we will pursue your case, if you are deprived of any other opportunity please inform us, we are here to serve you’’.
Dr. Ivan Agibola Thomas, Director Attitudinal and Behavioral Change (ABC) Secretariat said all 17 goals hinge of change of attitudes towards persons with disabilities to view them as important in society.
He said this can be done through advocacy with key government Ministries playing key roles stating that now that Disability has become a developmental issue it behooves of them all to treat it with all seriousness.
He said the ABC Secretariat is working towards ensuring positive attitude in the country Kabba Franklin Bangura, President Sierra Leone Union of Persons with Disability Issues stated that his organization covers all disable persons and their advocacy is paying dividends buttressing that they will leave no one behind in employment, education, and other facilities.
Statements were also delivered by several representatives from the UNDP, World Vision and Ministries representatives.
Chairman for the ceremony, Brima Sheriff who is Chair of the Sierra Leone’s Human Rights Commission stated that the theme is apt and the slogan, ‘leave no one behind is very critical.
He said as the day is celebrated people should not view Disables as mere object as what is done for them should not be seen as charity but part of our responsibility to the disables. He asked what is to be done to empower disables and transform their lives