Sunday, 25 October 2015

Week 4

Week 4
Sorry for the late blog post! It’s been a very busy couple of weeks and we have spent less time in the office than usual because we have been out doing lots in the community. Last Tuesday, ICV Mary and UKV Abby did us proud on air at radio Kesmi and we had our first primary school sensitisation which was very interactive and we hope both fun and educational for the kids.
Saturday was a particularly important day for the Ghana Blind Union, which is one of the four groups that the Resource Centre represents. They held their 5th Biennial Convention which the International Service cohort was kindly invited to attend. So I went along to represent the group, to show our support and to learn more about the specific issues that concern members of the blind community.
When I arrived, I was immediately made very welcome. To my surprise I was even invited to join the high table, up on the stage along side the most senior members of the GBU, local chiefs and politicians. The turn out was very good (around 150 people, I think) and there was a strong sense of optimism and community spirit in the hall. While waiting for the meeting to start, every now and again someone would shout “GBU” to which the crowd answered “progress!” They are strong and unified in this demand for progress, as I was to witness from the speeches that followed.
One of the key issues raised at the meeting was the stigmatisation of disabled people. Many people in Ghana believe that blind people can only survive from begging and relying on the charity of others. While many blind people do beg in Ghana today, this is not because they are unable to work but because they have never been given the opportunity to. The illiteracy rate for the blind and partially sighted is extremely high because of how hard it is to get access to education.  The government introduced a Disability Act to Ghana in 2006 which states that all disabled people should have access to education an employment amongst other fundamental rights. However, not nearly enough progress has been made since the act was introduced because not enough funding and resources have been made available to implement it. As a consequence, many disabled people are not benefitting from the rights they are entitled to and remain among the poorest in society. The GBU highlighted this at the convention and have been lobbying the government on this issue. We join them in their call for progress and we hope that we can work together at the Resource Centre to bring forward the day that all disabled people will be equal members of society.

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