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Celebrating International Day of People with Disabilities

Celebrating International Day of People with Disabilities
03/12/2016 Laliesha

The Sierra Leonean Superhumans

“We are humans. We have human feelings.”

 

2016 has been a year where the UK has really celebrated and accepting disability.

The Paralympics saw Team GB break record after record.  The games in Rio however became so much more than the sport they showcased. They have created a legacy of acceptance and celebration for those with disability.

Our para athletes took centre stage in sport to show that they are capable.

The slogan ‘Yes I can’ became their mantra, but there are many other people living with disability around the world who are regularly told they cannot and are made to feel under valued.

Action on Poverty work to improve the livelihoods of the most marginalised individuals, and in countries where disability is often overlooked they regularly become a focus of our work.

It is very common in Sierra Leone to see people with disabilities (PWD) begging on the streets because there is a lack of knowledge on how to include, train or teach them.

We want to change that.

Education, and resources for disability are extremely rare. This often means that many of the most marginalised people aren’t reached.

Without access to something as basic as a wheelchair many people are left isolated in their homes or on the streets. Can you imagine how that could change someone’s life?

Providing people with the basic necessity of a wheelchair, or crutches would allow people to increase their mobility. This would allow them to become more included in social gatherings and become more employable.

One of our Sierra Leone partners CARD has forged a relationship with the Opportunities Training Centre (OTC). It is here, through our partnership with CARD that people living with disability can receive skills training.

Through this training our beneficiaries take out loans to receive a basic tool kit in their respective trade. Being taught a skill shows these people that they are capable.

Potential is something within us all, but for those living with disability in Sierra Leone, this potential is rarely unlocked.


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Above: (L-R) Hawa Kamra, Moses in his charging and electronics shop
Below: (L-R) Group of beneficiaries at the OTC, Example of the wheelchairs built for beneficiaries

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Many of our trainers also have disabilities and there is a common consensus among them that there needs to be more inclusion of people with disabilities (PWD) into economic activities.

Hawa Kamra is one of our embroidery trainers. She wants to see the removal of PWD from the streets as she thinks it sends out the wrong image.

“We do have capabilities and no one should be left to beg because of their disability.”

Many people in Sierra Leone living with disability are made to feel worthless and irrelevant.

“We need to be strong for tomorrow and I want to help others achieve something for a better tomorrow, people with disability do not have to be idle.”

Our project empowers those living with disability, by giving them the opportunity to be taught, gain a trade, and encourages them to start their own businesses.

Moses may not be a Paralympian but he gets a gold from us. He has physical and mobility restrictions as a result of polio. After his father died, he was forced to drop out of school.

Moses turned to begging to earn money.

He believed he had nothing more to offer and was reluctant to join training. But through our project he gained skill in mobile repairs and electronics and was made to feel included and capable.

“Now I have a skill and the ability to earn, people began to see me differently. I gained dignity for the first time. My family no longer shun me and I am now allowed to contribute to family meetings and gatherings.”

Moses has been able to set up his own electronic repair and charging business. Other trainees see him as a role model. He was able to reach a greater potential.

Where you start in life shouldn’t dictate where you finish.

We all have the ability to change a life. You have the power to help more people like Moses gain the skills and opportunities they deserve.

So as we celebrate International Day of People with Disability, let’s shine a light on the Superhumans that are often overlooked across the globe.

By Supporting and donating to our mission we can work together to tell them that ‘Yes they Can!’

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