17 February 2017

Namibia: Activist Seeks Help for People With Disabilities

A YOUNG man at Walvis Bay is appealing for help to support people with disabilities at Walvis Bay.

Mario Thaniseb says most people with disabilities are lonely, although they live with family members, who are expected to be their support.

He says there is still a problem of stigmatisation and discrimination against people with disabilities in society, noting that communities need to be educated about disabled people.

As one of the activists in support of people living with disabilities at Walvis Bay, Thaniseb makes regular visits to offer them advice and support on how to cope with life.

He says they experience problems that other people do not know about.

"A lot of them open up when I talk to them, but they will never talk in front of family members.

Most of them just sit idle at home and people do not really care about them.

"From outside, you would think that good family members surround them, but not everybody has patient relatives. Stigmatisation and discrimination most often starts at home," he said.

Thaniseb says about 20 other members including himself have been meeting on Sundays to encourage one another and discuss issues regarding their conditions.

They formed the Walvis Bay Disability Forum, but unfortunately it is mostly attended by people with hearing and vision impairments, and only a few of those in wheelchairs.

A lot of people in wheelchairs want to come to the meetings, but it is difficult for them to reach the venue in Kuisebmond. He said the group is in need of transportation to move around easily.

"We have a vision of visiting places like schools and church organisations to raise awareness about our conditions, but we would need reliable transportation.

"We also want to go out on tours to see the rest of the country. Some of our members are interested in studying and others want to start businesses. We want to be able to support such dreams, but we need start-up capital, before we can raise our own funds," he said. He says the group does not want to become too dependent on society, noting that they can acquire skills that will help them to raise funds.

He is however happy that most children with learning disabilities at Walvis Bay benefit a lot from organisations like the Sunshine Centre, where they are taken care of during the day.

It is difficult though, for those individuals who are already past the age of attending sessions at the Sunshine Centre.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the Walvis Bay Disability Forum, Tsire Tsauseb says he has already started visiting companies at Walvis Bay to negotiate job opportunities for members.

He also plans to visit traffic offices to work out ways of obtaining drivers' licences for disabled people.

"It is time for us to show that we are able to do what other people can do," he says.

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