Our work progresses and we would like to share the highlights of some visits to the Centre with you.
Our efforts to create jobs for the disabled youths received a boost when Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) visited us the last week of July and donated to a vehicle that would carry around and market the satchet water. In addition they are organising Exhibition Sales in their office premises for the products of the Centre on the 5th of Sept 2007. This too encourages training and learning for both the trainers and trainees and showcases the value of skill acquisition.
The Self Help Project Officer, Staphanie, from the American Embassy also visited in July and the impression she had has led to her suggesting to the Consulate to organise Exhibition Sales for the work of disabled youths.
The Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Olubumi Okogie, visited on the 3rd of August and promised to highlight our products and activities. He also has approved the building of RAMPS IN SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES and the Forming of Sign Language Clubs in schools under him to facilitate communication between children with and without speech and hearing impairment.
Our joy is in the fact that we have gotten the vehicle for the sale of satchet water, have a place to sell our products and that our advocacy is receiving positive attention all through visits of benefactors.
Recently, Nigeria has changed her Policy of educating and training disabled person from exclusive treatment to Inclusive setting through the Education Reforms of the Mrs Oby Ezekwesili who has been now appointed the Vice Chairman of the World Bank.
Friends of the dISABLED HAS BEEN ADVOCATING FOR INCLUSIVE EDUCATION since 2005 through National media, personal approach, lobbing, seminars and Workshops.By 2006, we wrote to the Hon. Minister, with imput from the parents of hearing and Speech impaired students in our Centre, asking that her planned reforms in Education should carry along the disabled people's education. WE ASKED AND RECOMMENDED THAT CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES GO TO THE SAME SCHOOL, private or public, inorder to manage and finally eradicate discrimination which has been the major problem facing people with disabilities. The reponse was positive and Iwas invited as a Stakeholder to serve in Equity Team to sell and push my new idea. This I did along side with people who advocate for a change.At the end, other Stakeholders and Policy Makers saw the need to bring childern together from the primary to the secondary levels as their Human Rights and to get their peers get used to them from the beginning inorder to provide for their needs later.
In Nigeria now there is A Ten - Year Plan/ Education reforms which has as its policy, the training of both the disabled and the non- disabled providing each child what he/she needs to learn effectively.There is the understanding that disability is a difference and those who have, should be provided with what they need to belong eg. Braille machines will be provided for those with visual impairement, Sign Language teachers be provided for those with hearing and speech impairment while ramps are built for those on wheel chairs. Cases that are beyond management in inclusive setting should still be treated in exclusion with the techniques to bring them together as much as possible.
We have achived a Policy Change through our Advocacy. We are now faced with the challanges of implementation. A policy can be made but if not implemented is as bad as the originalsituation.
If implemented, discrimination will phase off or at least be minimised; every child in school both primary and secondary will gradually and with time learn sign language and this in turn will phase off the hearing and sppech impairment as every body would be able to communicate with those who have it. Both disabled and the non-disabled would work in the same office without isolation.
More reports on this will come with time.
There is scarcity of water in our area and water sells well for those who can afford it.We embark on pure water project to creat jobs for disabled youths and to sustain both the Centre and to exchange begging and idleness with sustainable activities. Education Tax Fun Nigeria(ETF) HAS HELPED US PUT UP THIS STRUCTURE AND Rotary Club Lagos central has given us one borehole and a tank we need one more borehole and three water tanks, water purifying medium and packaging machine to take off. Be part of the change, Join us keep disabled youths reasonably busy.
We have scalled up the training in ICT for speech and hearing impaired youths mostly females so that they can communicate effectively with their environment and the world through the Internet with out discrimination. Could you part of training them?
We have mounted a campaign for Sign Language for the Primary and SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN NIGERIA FOR iNCLUSIVE EDUCATION FOR THIS GROUP.
We have included 50 hearing and speech impaired youths in our ICT Training. It is not easy to discover that they are disabled and they suffer in silence. With ICT training, they can chat, send e-mails and communicate with non-disabled and the disabled in the society.
On our 10th year Anniversary of training in Lagos only, 28th of September 2006,the British High Commissioner, His Excellency, Richard Gozney, Commissioned 10 New Compuiters with one Internet Connection Service donated by the High Commission in Nigeria.
We also celebrated the progress/success of one of the beggers we picked on the road in 1993, trained in primary and Secondary school now in Bayero University Kano. One of our beneficiaries in 1998 now works with the First Bank PLC.
Our project is in the rural grassroot and it is difficult to get electricity for our ICT and other works and so we depend more on generator and it is very expensive. We have a line up of income generating projects that can give income to the less privileged; Pure water processing and snailery. We need encouragement to continue to train and put into good use.
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Isale Eko, Lagos Island