By Kehinde Olatunji
Founder, Hope Builders for the physically challenged foundation, Dr Christiana Akinrinmade, has stressed the need for equal opportunities and inclusiveness for People With Disabilities (PWD).
Speaking at a programme tagged: ‘Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Day with Disabilities: Building a strong future together,’ Akinrinmade said PWD needs empathy and not pity.
She emphasised the need or government, corporate bodies and well-meaning Nigerians to prioritise social equity and inclusion of every member of the society, without discrimination.
Albinos, PWDs, representatives from the National Productivity Center (NPC), Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA), and the Bank of Industry (BoI), attended the event.
The programme featured sales and exhibitions of craftworks such as Kampala, Adire, Ankara bag making, styling shoes and bags, beads and throw pillows among other activities.
Akinrinmade said PWDs should not be left out in terms of gainful employment, education, vocational training, skilled and empowerment programmes, saying together, a world where diversity is embraced, and every individual, regardless of their physical abilities, is allowed to thrive, can be built.
She said: “Today, we come together to celebrate the indomitable spirit of individuals with disabilities and their remarkable contributions to entrepreneurship. The impact of our programmes has been far-reaching, touching the lives of over 1000 individuals through craftwork and hand skills training. Our dedication to excellence and commitment to empowering individuals with disabilities have garnered recognition and numerous awards, including the prestigious Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship Development from the Lagos State Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment.”
She maintained that the foundation remains resolute in providing education, vocational training, and empowerment pro grammes that promote inclusiveness, independence, and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities, saying that with the right support and resources, individuals facing challenges can overcome barriers and achieve their aspirations.
“Our journey as a Foundation has been one marked by determination, resilience and a firm belief in the potential of people with disabilities. I stand before you as a testament to the power of perseverance, having faced visual impairment in 2010 after a successful banking career spanning over eighteen years. In 2015, I graduated from the Nigerian Society for the Blind, a pivotal moment that ignited my passion for empowering others facing similar challenges.
“The Hope Builder for the Physically Challenged Foundation is not just an organisation; it is a symbol of hope and a catalyst for change. We are driven by the belief that disability should never be an obstacle to success but rather a platform for immense possibilities. Our Foundation envisions a world where individuals with disabilities have equal opportunities to unlock their full potential, actively participate in society, and contribute meaningfully to their communities.”
Representative of BoI, Uche Nwoka, said: “I was very impressed to see what they did here and what they need support. All of us should come together and build bigger markets to support these people. They are skilled. Skill acquisition is very important. We need to support them by buying what they produce to encourage them to do more.”