OpEd, Politics

People with Disability Deserve Respect and Support


By Joseph Akim Gordon

Disabilities occur when a person has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

There are people who are born with disabilities—for instance, people who are born blind, deaf, or missing limbs—and others who are disabled through accidents like traffic accidents or war.

For these reasons, disability is not confined to some people; we are all vulnerable. In the morning, you’re walking normally, but suddenly you’re crushed by a vehicle with all your legs crushed, and you become disabled and lose the ability to walk normally.

There are many causes of disability: vision impairment, deafness, difficulty hearing somebody talk, mental health conditions, intellectual disabilities, acquired brain injuries, and physical disabilities.

The number of disabilities in South Sudan has increased due to wars and also through the prescription of wrong or fake medication and injections when they are not administered properly. Poverty and malnutrition are other sources of disability.

People with disabilities in South Sudan face a lot of discrimination by the public; even some parents segregate disabled children; they receive less support from their parents; others are killed at birth; the parents believe that such a disabled child is a curse and there is no need to have them, so they are killed by their own parents; they are not treated like the other children; they are not offered education opportunities; and the school fees are paid to able-bodied children.

Believing that the disabled child is a burden, and they will not be able to support the family and that it is difficult for a disabled person to get married, the parent does not expect dowry from a disabled girl because no healthy person would like this burden to marry a disabled girl as they are believed to be no productive.

But there are disabled people who are educated, particularly those who are blind. We have such centers in Rajaf or Buluk where they get their education in reading through Braille.

In advanced countries where there are special educational facilities, even up to the university level. In South Sudan, qualified disabled people find it very difficult to secure employment. For able-bodied people who are qualified, it is difficult to get employed, but for disabled people, it is much harder to get employed even if one is qualified.

When a qualified disabled person takes his or her application to seek employment, even before meeting the director general in the ministry, the office manager offers the disabled person a small amount of money, and if he or she says, I am bringing a job application, he or she will be told that there is no job here. Even without taking the application, if you say there is no job for you and that you are disabled, what job can you do? Please leave my office.

To make it worse, most government buildings are not accessible for disabled people, so it makes it difficult for them to meet the authorities in the ministries to present their grievances.

In South Sudan, they are regarded as less human beings. Thanks to some humanitarian institutions in South Sudan and outside South Sudan that are sympathetic to the disabled community and offer assistance to them, we call ourselves Christians, but yet we lack the humanitarian heart to render services to the needy.

In the past, we used to have zebra crossings on many of our streets, but bad drivers do not care; they can even crush you in the marked area of zebra crossings. It is worse for people with disabilities; no one is prepared to assist a blind person to cross the road safely, and even giving a disabled person a lift is almost impossible in South Sudan.

As I said before disability is not only confined to the present people, today you are an able person tomorrow you find yourself blind, deaf, or your limb is removed because of diabetes or any other cause.

We are living in a country where security is not guaranteed, where we have an ethnic conflict here and there, the peace is sunk every day, but people are dying in many locations, cattle raid and killing is almost of daily occurrence.

So, think twice because the probability of joining the club of the disability is very high, for this reason, we need to change our negative vocabularies to positive one, because disability is not restricted to the present people, what happens if tomorrow you too become disabled will you continue with your negativity about the disabled people? The disabled are full human beings with all human faculties; they deserve our respect and support.

So today, if you meet a disabled person, show your mercy and humanity to him or her, greet them with a smile and render support whenever necessary.

Whenever they visit your office, welcome them, talk to them humanely, and render them an assistant if you can. If you continue to assist or support them, rest assured that Almighty God will reward you abundantly.

The author can be reached through e-mail: akimgordon222@gmail.com


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