21 December 2012

Liberia: People With Disabilities Issue Ultimatum

People with disabilities, particularly the visually impaired, have issued a 12-day ultimatum to the National Commission on Disabilities to improve their living standards. Mr. Railey Fallah, leader of the group, told the media in Monrovia that should the Commission fail, they would have no option, but to act.

And that action, Fallah continued, would be to mobilize multitude of their colleagues in other parts of the country and Montserrado to barricade the NCD Headquarters in the Capitol.

"The Commission is not doing anything for the improvement of our livelihood. Those heading the NCD are of the feeling that we are not human beings who worth better living like them too," Fallah noted. He said their demonstration may compare President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to act on the NCD leadership because it would be the only means address their concern.

"It may not be a good thing for the President to sack anyone of them because of the abandonment we are experiencing from the Commission. But if the need arises, it would happen," Fallah dejectedly stated.

But Ricardia B. Dennis, Head of the Commission brushed aside the situation and spoke of the improvement in the lives of those with disabilities. She said Liberia has the opportunity to move forward in its delivery of services and support to those with disabilities, using the community-based rehabilitation approach.

However, a delegation from Liberia to India on disability mission seemed to have held fruitful discussions aimed at benefiting persons with disabilities in Liberia.

Headed by the Executive Director of the National Commission on Disabilities, Ricardia B. Dennis, the delegation was made up of the Rev. Fallah Boima-Cymbianon (President of the National Union of the Organizations of the Disabled), Dr. Renato Libanora (AIFO Liberia Country Director) and Dr. Janice Cooper (The Carter Centre Country Representative for Health).

The team met with officials of Karnataka State in Bangalore, India. The State of Karnataka is among leaders in the world that address the needs of persons with disabilities through a community-based perspective.

The Liberian team exchanged ideas with the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, K.V. Rajanna on how Liberia could, in light of its recent deposit of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, move forward with full inclusion of persons with disabilities in all walks of life.

"Liberia has the opportunity to leapfrog in its development of services and supports for persons with disabilities using the community-based rehabilitation approach", said Mrs. Ricardia B. Dennis.

"There are so many ways that persons with disabilities are contributing to the economic vitality of India which we could do as well," she continued.

The meeting was a key opportunity to present the greetings of the Liberian people and to reaffirm the willingness to establish mutual relations to pursue the rights and opportunities for persons with disabilities in both countries.

The delegation has been in Karnataka State in South India to visit projects supported by AIFO, the Italian Association Amici di Raoul Follereau, which has been working with local NGOs and DPOS for more than 25 years in various villages.

The trip has come on the heels of participation by members of the delegation in the first Community Based Rehabilitation's World Congress (Agra, November 26-28, 2012) during which members of the delegation made formal presentations at the Congress.

Before and after the Congress, the Liberian delegation participated in workshops related to disability issues such as community based interventions and intellectual disabilities, rights and intimate relations.

The Congress was a unique opportunity to interact with other 1,200 delegates from more than 80 different countries, representing the most updated experiences and policies in approaching disabilities at community level.

The CBR Congress was organized by the World Health Organization and warmly and efficiently supported by the Indian Government and civil society organizations worldwide.

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