Kenyan paraplegics in plea

September 13, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 13 – The Kenya Paraplegic Organisation (KPO) has called on the government to address the plight of people living with disabilities.

KPO Executive Director Timothy Wetangula said on Monday that most of the equipment needed to support persons with disabilities was too expensive.

He urged the government to subsidise the costs of the equipment like specialised wheelchairs.

"The form of disability that we are in is a very expensive form of disability whereby you have to be permanently on a wheelchair; it is your permanent mobility equipment that you need and it is not just any wheel chair. It is a specialised wheelchair," he explained.

He was speaking to Capital News where he emphasised the need for people with disabilities to be included in policy formulation.

"The new Constitution provides for space for people with disability to actually participate in policy formulation and this will provide us with an opportunity to participate in formulating strategies that will give some support from the government," he pointed out.

His sentiments were echoed by a director of the organisation Bright Ambeyi who said that although the new Constitution does not address all their needs, it was a step in the right direction.

"When you look at the Bill of Rights, it really has a lot of things that would add value to the struggle that persons with disabilities have had in terms of acknowledgement, inclusion and integration," she said. "So as much as it is not the ultimate, it is a beginning."

She however noted that a lot more needed to be done to improve the lives of people living with disabilities.

"It should not be looked at as a token for those people with disability because these are also Kenyans who deserve to have equal rights just like every other Kenyan." 

She further emphasised the need for people living with disabilities not to be discriminated against, explaining that those who have infirmities are often shunned by the society and this makes them have a low self esteem.

She stressed the need for each and every person to support initiatives that seek to improve the livelihoods of people living with disabilities.

"You can be living your normal life then something traumatic happens and then you find yourself as a person with disability.  Therefore we should support this initiative, knowing that it is not just for a certain kind of people, but all of us can be beneficiaries," she said.

She also encouraged those afflicted to make the best out of their circumstances.

"The loss of limbs should not be the loss of your vision. You could still overcome… you could still do the things you had ambitions to do, but in a different way," she said.

"To the society, I would like to say that disability is not a curse, it does not mean that you are a lesser person," she further surmised.


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