By Minkailu Turay
The Vice President, Alhaji Chief Sam Sumana yesterday launched a one day national seminar on Apprenticeship and Employability of Persons With Disabilities (PWD) at a well attended ceremony at the National Stadium, Brookfields in Freetown. The seminar drew participants from all works of life including Diplomats, Ministers, Leaders of Civil Society Groups, NGOs, the press and the general public.
Making a statement during the opening session at the Presidential Lounge, the Vice President called for commitment from all quarters towards the apprenticeship and employability for all disabled persons. He noted that the National Commission for Persons with Disability (NCD) was founded by the government in February to enhance equal opportunity for all Sierra Leonean irrespective of their physical wellbeing.
V.P. Sam Sumana further maintained that both the commission and seminar are meant to remove physical barriers in education, health, employment rentals etc against physically challenged persons. “The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) could not be achieved if we have many unemployed disable persons in the country” he said adding that, despite the fact that the world is faced with economic meltdown, they will continue to provide the necessary support. He said as a government, they recognized and support the seminar and noted that for the fact that President Ernest Bai Koroma appointed a disable person in his cabinet shows the government commitment to disability issues. VP Sam Sumana further called on all employees to employ PWDs in their respective place of work.
In his speech, the Executive Director of Disability Rights Movement (DRIM), Vandy Konneh said the program is designed to assist individuals with disability to acquire skills, experience and support necessary to successfully prepare for, enter or remain in work force.
Mr. Konneh noted that his organization organized the program in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President, Ministries of Social Welfare, Labour, Youth, NCPD, SLUDI, and Handicap International among others. He said some one billion people in the world have disability, and that between 785 and 975 million are estimated to be of working age but that most do not work.
Other speakers at the ceremony included Minister of Labour, Hon. Mathew Teambo, Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Mustapha Bai Atilla, Chairman NCPD Fredrick Kamara etc.