Members, JONAPWD (Anambra State branch) in a group picture with His Lordship, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, Catholic Bishop of Akwa diocese, during a recent advocacy visit.

JONAPWD, Anambra State Chapter Project Team in an advocacy visit to the Catholic Bishop of Awka, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, advocated for accessible buildings, parking lots and provision of Sign Language interpretation among other things for the community of People with Disabilities in Anambra State.

The group’s visit was to press for implementation of the provisions made in Anambra State Disability Rights Law (ADRL)2018

Delivering the brief on behalf of Anambra State JONAPWD, the program officer, Miss Ncheta Nwanokwara enumerated the issues in focus as they relate to religious leaders, for the implementation of Anambra State Disability Rights Law (ADRL).

The list included, provision of customized facilities at public buildings for PWDs, promotion of right of access to public structures for PWDs, encouraging and facilitating right of access to information and right to efficient communication for PWDs, granting of right to reservation at parking lots for PWDs.

Miss Nwanokwara appealed to the bishop to ensure adequate access into church buildings and its premises for PWDs by constructing ramps for wheelchair users.

Other relevant issues advocated include making accessibility a policy for all new church buildings in the diocese, making adequate provisions for Sgn Language interpreters in church masses – starting with churches within the state capital in order to accommodate Deaf persons. Properly marked special reservation at parking lots for PWDs, encouraging priests and other church workers to learn basic Sign Language and disability etiquettes were also part of the recommendations put forward.

In his response, the Bishop, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor explained that the diocese has already made the new buildings within the cathedral premises accessible for PWDs by buildings ramps and that only the old buildings were wanting in this regard.

He promised to do all within his capacity to ensure that every Catholic church in Awka Diocese adopts and implements the requirements pointed out in the Anambra State Disability Rights Law (ADRL)2018.

He commended the JONAPWD project team for not only believing in themselves, but also fighting for the Rights of the Disability Community in Anambra State at large.

Bishop Ezeokafor urged every member of the project team to count himself blessed for being alive and healthy irrespective of their various challenges. He said, where there is life, there is hope.

The chairman of Anambra State Deaf Association, Comrade Amobi Nwagwu immensely thanked His Lordship Bishop Ezeokafor for his warm reception whily commending him for his consistent affection towards Persons with disabilities.

The high point of the visit was presentation of a copy of the advocacy brief, along with Anambra State Disability Rights Law (2018) to His Lordship, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor.

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