The New Dawn (Monrovia)

27 November 2012

Liberia: Seminar for Disabled Opens in Gbarnga

A week-long seminar of people with disabilities kicked-off Sunday in Gbarnga, Bong County. The seminar is assembling hundreds of disabled Liberians affected by the Liberian civil conflicts from the fifteen counties of Liberia.

According to Madam Naomi Harris, Head of the National Union of the Organization of the Disabled (NUOD), the seminar which ends on 2 December, is intended to build the capacities of some of their members to serve as trainers of trainers.

In a related development, the Association of Disabled Females International (ADFI), an organization of physically challenged women and children is appealing for reparation from the Liberian government.

The organization wants lawyers and media practitioners to engage the government through the Legislature Committee on Claims and Petition to champion their cause.

ADFI, with over 2,000 persons across the country who became handicapped as a result of the conflict, also wants a trust fund set-up for disabled for their education, Medicare, shelter, as well as sustainability, among others to prevent them from being beggars.

Madam Laura M. Askie, Acting National Executive Director and F. Gbalor Dennis, National Program Officer told the Lawyers and Media men/women during a one-day seminar last Thursday in Monrovia that this cannot be done without the intervention of the two civil society groups.

"We are physically challenged people; we do not have the hands, but we invited you to count on your efforts to help us in the process of our campaign," Askie noted.

Dubbed: "Practitioners Be Disabled Friendly", she described lawyers and journalists as powerful people worldwide to whom the society listen in shaping the destiny of any group or individual(s).

"We are war victims' females (women) and children, who did not come to this world with such conditions, but the war; being that we do not want to be street beggars, we have grouped ourselves into a national body," Askie tearfully noted.

Dennis said when the issue of reparation is addressed by the government for people with disabilities; their lives would improve instead of being street beggars.

He noted that reparation would further bring about reconciliation and help to heal the wounds of the society. "These women and children were made handicapped of the war; therefore, it was government's responsible to cater to them."

Dennis' effort was made when they met some members of the Representatives, including Munah, Pelham, Mary Karwar, Solomon George, Josephine Francis, Isaac Roland and some senators. He also noted the concern of the concern of the Legislators as to who manages the trust fund when set up.

"But those things can be worked out when you (lawyers and media practitioners) who we asking to lead the campaign on our behalf are involved with the process," he lamented. Dennis indicated that ADFI members were civilians who the society discriminates against because of their conditions.

"Some of our members are still living with rocket particles in their bodies since the 1990s; the limbs of others were amputated because of cancer from these particles. Being that the disabled are unable to fetch for themselves, their families or friends have neglected them," Dennis said.

ADFI was founded in September 1996 for women and children, but certified by the government 2001. It tries to get disabled from the streets and make them to believe that all was not lost, and when empower, they could do for themselves.

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