Monrovia — President George Weah at the country’s first National Disabilities Summit told scores of individuals with disabilities that issues confronting them are part of the challenges his pro-poor agenda is seeking to address.
The National Commission on Disabilities (NCD) in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), the Ministry of Finance on Friday December 3, 2021, began Liberia’s first National Disabilities Summit that lasted for two-day.
At the event, an executive of the NCD Samuel Dean clearly outlined nine thematic areas he says the NCD wants the government to address.
Dean highlighted the issues about employment, education, agriculture and food security, access to justice and representative seats at the Legislature as some of the thematic areas the NCD wants government to prioritize when implementing its Pro-poor Agenda.
President Weah, giving a special statement, praised the NCD Leadership for organizing the first national summit. The conference, the President said, presents a special opportunity for his government to highlight the plights of persons with disabilities.
“Disability is not inability. It’s my belief that people with disability have the ability to contribute positively to the growth of our society,” President Weah stated.
He added: “Let me once and again thank you for inviting me to the inaugural conference of persons with disabilities. This is an important gathering for me since it involves people who are embodiment of the challenges my pro-poor agenda seeks to resolved.”
According to the Liberian Leader, whether you have disabilities or not, every human being is challenged in a different way.
“Nothing should be allowed to stop one from reaching his or her God giving potential,” he furthers.
Weah continued: “I am here today to give you my full support. My administration will continue to strive to improve the condition in Liberia, under which people living with disability must live.”
This, he said, his government will facilitate the works of the different organizations working with persons with disability including the National Commission on Disabilities.
“This country has witnessed a significant increase of the number of people living with disability since the end of the civil war with many languishing at the lower of the economic ladder,” the Liberian said.
President Weah continues: “We cannot allow your suffering to continue. We must, consciously, provide the social services you need in the same manner that will support your able body counterpart; no one should be left behind.”
“There must be equal access to healthcare services, education and employment opportunity for people with disabilities. While this is lacking, we will begin to take the necessary corrective steps to restore their basic and fundamental rights,” he said.
Development Partners Assure NCD of Full Supports
At the event, few Embassies including international development organizations that were presence praised the NCD for bringing people with disability from every part of the country to highlight the plight of their community.
Speaking, the US Ambassador to Liberia Michael McCarthy said when he was a youth; he worked for five years on a YMCA project. The project, he said, was to work with people with disabilities for three hours every Saturday morning.
“There is no such thing as disabled person; there are people with disabilities,” he said.
According to Ambassador McCarthy, the first American President to visit Liberia Franklin Roosevelt was disabled. Roosevelt was left permanently paralyzed from the waist down. He was diagnosed with poliomyelitis.
“When President Roosevelt got down at the airport and walked to the microphone, nobody ever introduced him by saying here is the disabled President of the United States,” he said.
Ambassador added: “I just want to say that the United States remains steadfast in our commitment to advance the human rights of persons with disabilities at home and around the world. We surely believe with our friend here in the government of Liberia that it is essential to engage persons with disabilities in the democracy process to combat discrimination, to counter prejudice and to protect the rights of the disabled and ensure their inclusion in all part of life on an equal basic with other people.”
Also speaking, European Union Head to Liberia Laurent Delahousse said his institution is willing to partner with the government to support persons with disabilities.
According to Delahousse, the event should not be called a disability summit. Rather, it should be called, super abilities summit.
“You develop what is missing. If your eyes are not working, ears not working, your legs are not working, you compensate by developing super senses and that is extraordinarily to see how you manage, how you mitigate, and how you integrate,” the EU strong man said.
“You deserve the support, you need support. Your presence here today from all over Liberia is so important. It is a sense of belonging. We the development partners of Liberia want to bring you our friendship and our support through our programs and in corporation with your government,” Ambassador Delahousse stated.