By Angela Atabo
Disability Rights Advocacy Centre (DRAC) has distributed 167 devices to aid women and girls with disabilities in Nassarawa and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The devices are 72 wheelchairs, 47 crutches, 31 holdable canes,10 vision magnifiers and seven hearing aids for persons with disabilities.
Dr Irene Patrick-Ogbogu, the Executive Director DRAC, at the inauguration of the distribution of the items to the beneficiaries in Abuja said that the centre was glad to be able to touch lives.
Patrick-Ogbogu said that DRAC was committed to the issues of persons with disabilities, especially women and girls.
She said that people always asked her why women and girls?
She said the answer was because women and girls were three times more vulnerable than other groups of people whether women without disabilities or men with disabilities.
“Women with disabilities are usually forgotten, left behind and usually not remembered in the scheme of things.
“I, as a woman with disability, I know how important my wheel chair is to me, the truth is that people see me; they admire me and say oh thank you for everything you are doing.
“However, if I don’t have an assistive device, I will not be able to do a tenth of all these things that I am able to do.
“So for me, this is an important day because without devices, many people are not able to achieve their full potential.
“So we are very grateful to UKAid, British government for supporting us to be able to implement this very important project.’’
Patrick-Ogbogu said that the project had empowered DRAC to be able to support people with disabilities in various fields.
She added that the organisation had empowered them economically through Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), vocational training, through number of ways and the most recent through devices.’’
She said that there were girls with disabilities who were not able to go to school because they did not have aid devices.
She noted that there were also girls with disabilities who were in school but were not able to participate and function as fully as they should because they did not have devices to aid them.
She said that the same situation were in communities because there were women with disabilities who needed aid devices to be able to function on a day to day basis.
“So for us, this is very important as we are reaching people in the six area councils of FCT as well as Nasarawa.
“We have beneficiaries that will be receiving wheel chairs, crutches, guide-cane, magnifiers and hearing aids and so on.
`’So you can imagine someone who has never heard a sound before in their lives, after receiving this hearing aid, they can now hear, so this is a very important day in our lives and in the lives of beneficiaries as well.”
Mr Bright Ekweremadu, the Country Director, Christoffel Blinden Mission (CBM) said that CBM was an organisation working to improve the lives of people with disabilities in the poorest countries.
Ekweremadu expressed disappointment that Nigerians, especially the leaders were not passionate in supporting humanitarian cause as most money to fund NGOs came from international donors.
He said that the government needed to prioritise such issues and come out more to assist people, adding that one politician’s car would buy the items being distributed.
“I am not saying the cars are bad but the message is that they should prioritise and support such donations to people like the international communities who in spite of their own challenges still assist.’’
Mr Aturu Jonah, the Director, the FCT Department Special Needs Education commended DRAC for the initiative, noting that education was key and an investment in education was right.
Jonah said that the department stood for education for all but the absence of aid device hindered the education of many children with disabilities.
He said that persons with disabilities contributed to a good number of out-of-school children so there was first hand marginalisation.
He urged the beneficiaries to utilise the devices to contribute their quota to the economy and not to be redundant or beg with them.
Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) Chairman, Abdullahi Candido, who represented by Hajiya Aisha Yusuf, Department of Social Welfare and Gender urged Nigerians to stop stigmatising PWDs.
Candido urged Nigerians to find a way to ameliorate their plights and not contribute to it.
A beneficiary, Rabi Mustapher, who spoke on behalf of other beneficiaries, expressed happiness for the gifts, adding that their lives had been made easier by the devices.
Mustapher called on the government to step up its intervention for PWDs because so far, only NGOs had been helpful, stressing that government should support DRAC to do more so more people could benefit.(NAN)