According to a recent UN report, more than 1 billion people or 14% of the world population are living with some form of disability but many are not aware that they even have disabilities.
Around the world PWD’s face physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers that exclude them from participating fully and effectively as equal members of society.
They are disproportionately represented and are among the world’s poorest and lack equal access to basic resources, such as education, employment, health care, social and legal support as well as having a higher rate of mortality. In spite of this situation disability has remained largely invisible in the mainstream development agenda and its processes.
In Uganda it’s a lot worse according to our experience. Right from the drivers and riders, there is no respect for persons with disabilities. Many road users cause harm and death to persons with disabilities while they send others into the states of disability due to reckless use of roads.
Special Children Special People has further discovered abandonment of children with disabilities. Many are totally ignored by their own parents who lock them into the houses while the parents go about their business. Others send them to the village to live with grandparents, having been given up as impossible to help.
There are unconfirmed reports SCSP received that other parents even kill their children when they are discovered to have severe forms of special needs, believing it to be a curse.
A lot of marriages have broken down because of births of special children. Many husbands have abandoned their wives and other children because of the birth of a special needs child, believing the child to be a support burden. Rampant poverty does not make things any easier.
All in all, this state of affairs makes it crucial to conduct continuous awareness campaign to curb social intolerance and community stigma directed at persons with disabilities.
The purpose is to create an awareness-raising campaign to build an understanding and tolerant community integration of persons with disabilities. When supported, the program has lasting impacts on the lives of special needs children and society.
Ignorance Of Special Needs Issues, Stigma and Hostility by the Community.
Due to limited information on special needs issues, communities have limited understanding, acceptance, support and integration of persons with disabilities.
Children with disabilities are locked up in homes while their parents go about other routines like visits to the market and friends. No consideration of the effects of this abandonment registers with the parents or the community that indifferently looks on.
Parental Indifference In Raising Special Needs Children
Because there is no parent who gets prepared that they are to give birth to special needs children, many just shockingly find themselves in scenarios with special needs children. It takes long for the shock to wear off and by the time it does, a lot of time has gone where early therapeutic intervention would have been instituted on the child.
Poor Mass Media Message Packaging
While some messages on special needs issues are aired through the media, they lack comprehensive information that would benefit the viewers or listeners.
Additionally, they hardly last a minute and viewers or listeners cannot ask questions to meet the gaps they haven’t understood. The messages therefore remain shallow and fail to uproot the core challenge that the community is largely ignorant on special needs issues.
Summation Of Need
Despite the odds spelt out above, SCSP’s understanding is that if the awareness is continued further, there will be less ignorance about issues of persons with disabilities, which will result in integration, acceptance and support by the community.
Schools and religious Institutes
We visit community schools to educate pupils and teachers about the rights and potential of PWDs. Further area opinion leaders, local authorities, police and religious leaders are also sensitized about PWDs issues.
SCSP through its community outreach team and volunteers arrange awareness-raising resource material for the target groups to be educated under different themes. Target groups are contacted and mobilized to attend the trainings through local leaders and authorities, school heads, the police, leaflets, and road sound drives
Sustainability of this initiative is maintained by training community coordinators chosen from the family members or teachers to carry on the awareness work with the input of SCSP until goals are achieved.
These trainers will routinely receive refresher training at the SCSP head offices and materials to hand out to the beneficiaries as and when availability warrants.
Please support SCSP, this awareness-raising program and community/ family outreach goes along way in ensuring that the cause of persons with disabilities takes hold into the social conscience and community mindset, thereby providing integration, acceptance and support for special needs people and their causes.
SCSP trusts that your input will go a long way in helping to fulfill the vision of assisting special needs people to live more fulfilling lives.