The Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation has celebrated the 2020 International Day for Persons with Disability (PWDs) with a call on state and non-state actors to recognise and respect the rights of PWDs.
This year’s celebration was on the theme: “Building Back Better: Towards a Disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World.”
Ghana joined the rest of the world to mark the Day on Dec 3, set aside by the United Nations to raise global awareness on disability issues.
The Day also calls for commitments by nations to address development concerns of PWDs.
Madam Otiko Afisah Djaba, the Executive Director of Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation, told the Ghana News Agency that the Foundation recognised and appreciated the abilities and challenges of persons with disability.
She said: “The year 2020 has been extremely challenging as a result of the impact of COVID-19.”
“We celebrate PWDs worldwide for being able to cope during this pandemic by adhering to the safety precautions to curbing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In spite of the crisis, no one should be left behind nor left out.”
Despite the extreme challenges posed by the dreaded coronavirus, Madam Djaba said it was exciting because it gave the Foundation the opportunity to do new things differently to improve the lives of many PWDs in Ghana.
She said the Foundation successfully launched its Campaign for 1000 Wheelchairs and Walking Aids per Region, with support from UNFPA and held virtual meetings to ensure successful operations.
It also trained 210 PWDs in techniques and participatory actions with support from Canada Fund for Local Initiatives towards peaceful 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections.
During the period, she said it established the Henry Djaba Memorial Centre for Ideas and Knowledge at Somanya in the Eastern Region, in partnership with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
A Plan International Women’s Leadership and Voices COVID-19 project in Yilo Krobo was also unveiled to build the capacity of women and PWDs to lead in peer education on coronavirus safety protocols.
“On this special occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disability, the Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation would also like to highlight one challenge – the disrespect of persons with disability in the use of labels and incorrect descriptions,” Madam Djaba.
“We take this opportunity to encourage guardians, carers, parents, duty bearers, policy makers, politicians, opinion leaders, the media and indeed the public to desist from using disability as a metaphor in our spoken and written language.”
She said the use of phrases like; “Are you blind?” “Are you deaf?” or “Are you disabled?” were derogatory and should not be encouraged.
“Let us all walk the talk to take action to promote dignity, respect and change our negative attitudes towards persons with disability.
She described the UN Day to join hearts, minds and resources towards an inclusive, accessible and sustainable environment for all, even after the COVID-19 pandemic.
PWDs constitute three per cent of Ghana’s population, according to Ghana Statistical Service 2012 Report
Duty bearers, government agencies, civil society organisations and service providers had a duty to pay more attention to persons with disability and ensure they were effectively included in every aspect of development, Madam Djaba said.