By Henry Uche
The Irede Foundation, is pushing for inclusion in education and equal treatment for people with disabilities (PWD), particularly children with limb loss.
Addressing newsmen on its coming Limb Loss Awareness Campaign (Out on a limb) taking place in Lagos, Delta, Edo, Bayelsa, Kenya, Ghana, Atlanta- U.S, Luxembourg, Taxas, Netherlands, Dublin, Rwanda and other parts of the world, the founder of Irede, Crystal Chigbu, said the foundation was set to give about 200 Limbs to children without limbs across the country as part of its mandate to support them.
With theme, “A walk for inclusion,” the founder condemned the spate of inequality, denial of rights and privileges and other ill treatments meted on PWD despite campaigns against such treatments and substantive laws promulgated to better the lots of such fellows.
“The disability advocacy walk is aimed at raising public awareness about the challenges children with limb loss and persons with disabilities face. People with disabilities are grossly under represented especially in a country like Nigeria and this in turn limits them and makes them feel like they live in a box.
“Our service to humanity through the support to limbless children was birthed from personal experience. Over the last nine (9) years, we have given 359 limbs to 320 children. This is our 10th anniversary. Last year we gave out 102 limbs, on average of N1.5 million each.”
Chigbu who encouraged the caregivers not to give up on limbless children called for implementation of Disability Laws both at federal and state level to protect children with special needs particularly in seeking quality education and jobs opportunities.
“This year, out on a limb will be the platform for people with disabilities to care about and see themselves as part of the larger world. It will give others the opportunity to see how disabilities and exclusion affects them and how we can all build a more inclusive society.
“Our advocacy and campaigns are tailored to make these children see reasons to live a fulfilled life. They don’t just need sympathy, pity or any emotional feeling, they need practical support: financially, materially and actions geared towards giving them sense of worth to make them live and maximise their potential and impact to humanity.
“We have many of them whom we refer as ‘Champions’ some of them are in higher Institutions of learning, some working in multi-national companies, others in foreign countries doing different things significantly.”
Revealing its next 10 year plan, she added that the foundation is gradually setting up a rehabilitation centre where mental health, trainings, research and development and other empowerment programs would be carried out for these fellow Nigerians.
“Yes we are setting up the centre to do more than what we are doing now. We want to let people know that it very bad and a sin against humanity and divinity to think ill of these people. Such erroneous perception and attitude towards PWD should stop, everyone owes them duty of care in any way we can no matter how meager, that’s the service we owe to one another as children of The Almighty God,” she stressed.
Similarly, the programs associate, Irede, Obafemi …., who spoke on the theme and its impact to the society said, “We are walking for inclusion because we want a society where everyone is involved and carried along irrespective of their differences and indifferences. We want people with disabilities to be able to get opportunities, jobs, quality education, and other things that they should have.
“Our mission is focused on encouraging children living with limb loss (either acquired or congenital) to live a life of fulfillment. We inspire action so child amputees, their families and caregivers can live independent and limitless lives; through provision of prosthetic limbs to child amputees from ages 0-18, disability advocacy, support groups for caregivers, and skills development trainings for PWDs.
“Children without limbs are encouraged to live their best lives, regardless of the absence of a limb (or limbs). We help people with disabilities live their lives to the fullest” he affirmed.”