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Solutions to Challenges: Creating Change

As we prepared to celebrate the International Women’s Day 2011 within our network, we went to a Radio House to create awareness. We asked to see the Officer-in-charge of the metro section, the receptionist, without finding out our reason for the visit, was rather anxious to send us out with these words “the company do not have funds this year for charity, please check back towards the end of the year”. Her comment is a portrayal of idea that visibility for persons with disabilities is only for charity, buttressing societies’ perception of persons with disabilities as mere objects of charity.

On 18 July 2011, I participated in a panel of discussion on two topical issues: The Rights of Persons with Disabilities and The Disabilities Rights Law in Lagos. The discussion was a segment of a three-day workshop on Improving Human Rights Situations in Nigeria. Rights of persons with disabilities, an always neglected issue was brought in this time to create change. During the Q&A time, a human rights activist from an NGO threw the following questions across. “What is the problem with these people with disabilities? What do they want?” “Especially you women, are you asking that men should relinquish their positions to you?” Some panelists were infuriated, but I was not embarrassed! These have been the kind of questions I am confronted with over the years. His questions have always been the type of comments emanating out of immeasurable marginalization, stigmatization and discrimination, which are challenges I encounter in creating change.

The above challenges formed the basis of some of the programs through which we sensitize and educate the public and stakeholders that persons with disabilities are also human and as human beings, deserve the right to live normal life like other citizens. I do explain with emphasis that individuals with disabilities are also persons with extra-ordinary talents who have some skills to contribute for the development of the communities. They therefore deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Persons with disabilities are also rights holders.
We often carry out educative and mentoring programs that discourage persons with disabilities from street begging.

During one of our international programmes in Brazil, able-bodied volunteers were asked to wear the shoes of disabled persons. A man volunteered to feign blindness. He closed his eyes and walked around the surroundings with a stick after which he narrated his experience. When he was asked to imagine himself to be in that state all through his life, he shed tears and confessed that this is the first time he had a thought like this.

For now, in my Pulsewire journal, I always write articles focusing on disabilities. I also utilize the pulsewire community to reach out, support and collaborate with other members and my facebook blog to project persons with disabilities around the world and their accomplishments. Comments I receive in response are strong indications that through Pulsewire and other online communities, people are appreciating that there are abilities in persons with disabilities.

Celine

Comments

Stella Paul's picture

Moving!

Dear Celine

Your story reminded me of my own moment of self-sensitization. In 2007, I was in a suburban town near Mumbai. I decided to go to Mumbai - a 3 hours journey by train, spend the day and return, as a blind person. I borrowed a cane from one of my friends - a disabled woman. This was the toughest thing ever, even for someone like me whose entire life has been about troubles and difficulties. In the train station, I was pushed, poked, touched and what not. But what really hurt was that everyone was calling me 'bechari'/the poor thing. I am very happy to make myself go through this humiliating process, because it opened my eyes in real sense.

And this is why I know what patience, what courage and strength you might be putting everyday, every hour in your work. Hats off to you and love you bunches!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Celine's picture

Yes Dear

Dear Stella,

Many thanks for reading and commenting.
Yes, in my place it is always said that experience is the best teacher!
I will not give up speaking on the issues I have first hand experience. The world must hear our voices and act for changes we push for.

Peace and Love to you Stella,
Celine

Monica Clarke's picture

STAYING CALM

Dear Celine

Your voice is strong and you are leaving a legacy of strength behind you. I send you much admiration for your resiliance and, most of all, the ability to remain calm without retaliating in anger, which is something which I am yet to learn.

God bless you Celine.

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Celine's picture

Re: Staying Calm

Dear Monica,

Thank you so much for your blessings. Dear we have to be calm sometimes to get what we want. We hardly achieve results when we grow angry.

God bless you too!
Celine

Adepeju's picture

Hi Celine,

Thank you for this insightful piece. I appreciate you

Celine's picture

Thanks

Thanks dear. God bless you

Celine

usha kc's picture

Celine my dear sis, i

Celine my dear sis, i apriciate your work, your vision.
dis-abled are not actually dis able they are able differently so now they are called differently able person.

Every work when differently able person perform I become inspired and touched.I have decided to write my Master's thesis on differently able women. and now I am preparing for proposal writting and seeking fund if possible.

you are an inspiring person dear,, keep inspiring.

Celine's picture

Yeah Usha

Usha dear Sister. Good to know you want to write your thesis on differently able women.

The issue of definition and name has always been sensitive and often times spark debates. Physically Challenged, Differently able, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), dis-Able are adopted most times based on groups, individuals, country perception or context, etc. The UN adopts the use of name: PWDs, whereas in my country, most people prefer physically challenged. I for one do not attach importance to definition but the treatment the society is meting out to persons. I usually tell people that I prefer inclusive treatment to persons to using inclusive language and yet treating persons exclusively.

Thank you dear sister.

Celine

love2write's picture

Thank goodness for people

Thank goodness for people like you who give a voice to the silent.

Ellen Rosner Feig
Assistant Professor, Composition and Literature
Carl Wilkens Fellow, Genocide Intervention Network/Save Darfur

Celine's picture

Re: Thank goodness ...

Thank you Ellen for nice comment.

Celine

MaDube's picture

Dear Celine

The leader of the Disabilities Women's Organisation in Zimbabwe always raises the question why disabled people's rights are raised as 'just another discussion' among many others and why their quest is never prioritised. She also said something quite profound in a personal testimony. She was born able bodied. And it took negligent driving by one person, involving her in an which left her disabled for life. We take it for granted that we will always be the way we are yet it is in the blink of an eye that we can lose our sight too. So I am encouraged by the work you do Celine and the support you give to disabled people in raising their voices.

Celine's picture

Thank you

Thank you dear sister

Celine

soulhavenlisa's picture

Thanks

Thank you Celine for what you do. Your commitment and love shines through in your writing.

Blessings,
Lisa

Celine's picture

Many Thanks

Many many many many thanks for your nice comments.

God bless dear Sister!

Celine

fem4femmes's picture

Strength and Certainty...

Celine,

The strength and certainty with which you speak for persons with disabilities are profound! I read your words with such admiration, knowing that it is in this direct and powerful way that I want to be able to speak to all issues that impact women. Thank you for your voice! It helps to make mine more aware and more capable, especially in supporting women with disabilities!

Shining joy to you today!

marissa

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

Celine's picture

My Sister Marissa

Dear Marissa,

I appreciate you my dear sister. Your words are a whole lot of encouragement and supportive. I always love your inspirational comments.

Peace,

Celine

Johanna's picture

Creating change

Whatever form it takes, in whatever country, being disabled has for too long meant being marginalized. So it is indeed special to read your strong words, your courage in taking your place in the world without apology. May you have continued success in that!

Celine's picture

Re: Creating Change

Thank you dear! I will not relent in my efforts no matter the marginalization.

Yes, continued success I strive for, no going back.

Celine

Joanna Krotz's picture

Finding strength in finding solutions

Celine -- You have a very clear, very powerful vision of how to move ahead and the road is hard and long!
But I know you are getting to the goal and making a difference.
Good luck,
Joanna

Celine's picture

Re: Finding strength in finding solutions

Yes, dear Joanna. You said it rightly - the road is hard and long! But with God all things are possible.
Yes, I am getting there and making a difference. Come Sat October 1, I am holding a skill empowerment workshop for I0 women living with disabilities. Please remember us in your prayers!

Love
Celine

BlueSky's picture

Proud to be your sister!

Celine, I was looking to find a sister with disabilities in our World Pulse community and I am so glad to have found YOU. You are a formidable representative of our segment of the Crusade. I thank God for your VOICE.

I appreciated so much your comment to Usha, saying that: “I prefer inclusive treatment to persons to using inclusive language and yet treating persons exclusively.” Powerfully stated.

As persons with disabilities it is important that WE use OUR voice, and just as important that we make the contributions we were destined to make in this world. Making use of the gifts that are inherent in OUR make-up, just as everyone born into this world enters with inherent gifts and abilities, establishes a platform for a change of the social mind regarding PWDs.

Thank you for speaking so soundly and profoundly as a contributing Voice to our holistic cause.

Your sister,

BlueSky

Celine's picture

Proud to be your Sister too

Thank you BlueSky. Me too, I am proud to be your sister.

Best,
Celine

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